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Fishermen row: Jaya slams Centre

Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa  on Thursday lambasted Centre for what she termed as ‘facile do not touch policy’ over the arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan navy, and asked prime minister Manmohan Singh to personally take up the matter with Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Referring to the arrest of 140 fishermen in the last two days, she described them as ‘the largest and most outrageous acts of mass abduction’ by the Sri Lankan navy, and slammed such ‘warlike acts’, saying it could not have been carried out without the ‘tacit support’ of Colombo.

‘The entire fishing community in Tamil Nadu has lost its faith in the ability of the government of India to protect the lives and livelihood of innocent fishermen in the high seas.

Surely, we cannot continue our facile ‘do not touch policy’ in the face of these audacious and high handed acts that violate the lives and livelihoods of our fishermen anymore,’ she said in a letter to Singh.

She expressed hope that Centre would ‘wake up to the reality of the situation,’ and come up with a concrete course of action to resolve the issue.

‘The Sri Lankan high commissioner in New Delhi must be summoned to the ministry of external affairs and our strong protest lodged. Mr. Prime Minister, Sir, you must personally take up this issue with the President of Sri Lanka without any further delay,’ she urged.

She expressed fears that failure to take immediate action could be disastrous for fishermen’s livelihood and could also flare up socio-economic tensions with the potential to snowball into a major law and order and security issue.

But for the restraint showed by fishermen, avoiding a direct conflict with the ‘heavily armed’ Sri Lankan Navy personnel, many innocent lives could have been lost when over 300 of them were arrested, Jayalalithaa said.

She said 110 fishermen in 15 boats ‘quietly surrendered’ to the Sri Lankan Navy, while 32 boats with 215 fishermen turned back and returned.

She charged the Lankan Navy with acting with ‘extreme hostility and punitive intent.’ 
Jayalalithaa recalled she had on earlier occasions told Singh that India’s failure to act decisively would embolden the Sri Lankan regime to ‘prey’ upon the fishermen.

Thirty Tamil Nadu fishermen arrested by Lankan navy

RAMESWARAM: Thirty fishermen of Pudukottai district in Tamil Nadu were arrested by Sri Lankan navy when they were fishing at Kodiyankarai, a senior fisheries department official said on Thursday. They were arrested on Wednesday night for allegedly fishing in Lankan waters and eight boats were also seized, N Thirunageswaran, assistant director, fisheries department, Jagathapattinam, said.  They have been taken to Kankeshanthurai, he said. This came on a day when the Sri Lankan navy had detained as many as 327 Indian fishermen while they were fishing in the Palk Strait and later released 227 of them. The 100 fishermen in custody were taken to Trincomallee. 
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