As many as 37 Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested and five of their fishing trawlers were seized by the Sri Lankan navy after they allegedly strayed into Lankan territorial waters, a fisheries official in Chennai said on Sunday.
The men were arrested during an operation by the Lankan navy on Saturday night.
This month alone, 10 fishing boats and 64 fishermen from the state have been apprehended by the Sri Lankan navy.
Taking up the issue with the Centre, Chief Minister M K Stalin urged Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to initiate necessary steps to secure the release all the fishermen and their fishing boats.
Drawing the Central minister’s attention to the apprehension of the 37 fishermen along with their five fishing boats by the Sri Lankan navy on October 28, the Chief Minister said, “As you are aware, our fishermen are solely dependent on their fishing activity for livelihood and these frequent arrests are causing immense distress and suffering to the fishermen community.” In a letter to Jaishankar on Sunday, a copy of which was made available to the media here, Stalin said such acts of the Sri Lankan navy have put pressure on fishermen communities in the state, and instilled panic into their minds.
“I wish to state that Tamil Nadu fishermen feel that their voices are on the wane; and I feel that the Government of India should stand more vocally for our fishermen’s rights and speak for their safety,” he said.
The chief minister reiterated the demand to protect the traditional fishing rights of Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay region.
Despite the persistent demand to stop the arrests and seizure of boats, the Sri Lankan navy has continued to apprehend Indian fishermen, he said in the letter and called for “solid diplomatic initiatives without further delay to end the arrests.”
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