She also asked him to instruct the Lankan government to instruct its Navy to refrain from arresting fishermen who were fishing in their traditional waters only to eke
out their livelihood.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms Jayalalithaa said that she wished to bring to his notice yet another incident of apprehension of Rameswaram fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy on the 22nd of July, 2012. She pointed out that this was the second such occurance, within a period of 15 days, in the month of July. Five Mechanized fishing boats bearing Registration Numbers TN/10/MFB/228, TN/10/MFB/400, TN/10/MFB/279, TN/10/MFB/863 and TN/10/MFB/273, which went for fishing on July 21st from the Rameswaram base, with 23 fishermen on board, were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy. They were at present under custody at Thalaimannar in Sri Lanka, having been remanded for two weeks.
The fishermen were fishing in the sea off Katchatheevu, in their traditional fishing waters, when they were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy, Ms Jayalalithaa said. She recalled her previous letters to the PM and said that the incidents of apprehension and harassment by the Sri Lankan Navy had become a regular occurrence in the past two months, especially after the end of the fishing ban period.
The intention of the Sri Lankan Navy was to instill fear in the minds of the fishermen and prevent them from conducting fishing in their traditional waters. This was very obvious from the repeated incidents of apprehension, she noted.
The actions of the Sri Lankan Navy had created a feeling of insecurity in the minds of the fishermen, who felt that there was no guarantee for their life and property in the sea, in the prevailing situation, the chief minister noted.
She pointed out that it would not be out of context to mention that the Sri Lankan Navy temporarily suspended apprehension and harassment activities only at times when diplomatic level meetings were convened between India and Sri Lanka on the fishing issue and resumed such activities immediately thereafter, much to the woe of the Tamilnadu fishermen.
The fishermen of the districts adjoining Palk Bay, especially from the Rameswaram area, were targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy, making it impossible for the fishermen to conduct fishing which was the only occupation they knew for the sustenance of their families, the chief minister pointed out.
Considering this, Ms Jayalalithaa urged the Prime Minister to arrange for the immediate release of the 23 Rameswaram fishermen with their five boats to Tamil Nadu without any delay.
The Chief Minister requested Manmohan Singh to take up the issue with the Sri Lankan Government and ask them to instruct its Navy to refrain from arresting fishermen who conducted fishing in their traditional waters only for eking out their livelihood. She also pointed out that unless the Government of India intervened in this issue there was every possibility of recurrence of such incidents in the coming months.