Chief Minister MK Stalin on Tuesday urged the Union government to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to stop the auctioning of boats seized by it and end the attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen, New Indian Express reported.
In separate letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Stalin raised the proposed auction of 105 fishing boats seized from TN fishermen by the Lankan government and the January 23 attack on the State’s fishers by Lankan nationals respectively.
“I strongly urge the Government of India to register its disapproval in the strongest possible terms to prevail upon the Sri Lankan Government to recall the process of auctioning the Tamil Nadu fishing boats between February 7 and 11 on which they do not have any legal rights,” the CM said in his letter to Modi.
Stating that the timing of the development is unfortunate as the Indo-Sri Lankan Joint Working Group on Fisheries is to meet soon, Stalin said, “The auction has created alarm and distrust among TN fishermen as they have come forward with an accommodative frame of mind to find an amicable solution for this long-pending issue.”
The State government had agreed to send a technical team to finalise the process and modalities for the disposal of 125 unsalvageable TN fishing boats berthed at various Sri Lanka harbours, the CM said.
CM Stalin urges Centre to ensure safety of fishers
Stalin added that the tenders calling for auction of the fishing boats is bound to derail the efforts of the Indian High Commission and TN government in providing succour to the fishermen who lost their livelihood.
He pointed out that these fishing boats were released by various Lankan courts and requested the Union government to continue its efforts for the transparent disposal of the 125 TN boats apprehended before 2018 besides ensuring the early release of 75 boats and fishing gear apprehended since 2018 by the Sri Lankan Navy.
In his letter to Jaishankar, Stalin expressed concern about the attack on innocent TN fishermen by Lankan nationals. “India cannot continue to be a mute spectator as the rights of Indian fishermen are repeatedly trampled upon.
I request the Government of India to take this up with the Lankan government in a stern manner such that acts of physical assault and robbing or damaging of assets of TN fishermen do not take place in future,” he said. A group of fishermen from Pushpavanam in Nagappattinam district was reportedly attacked by unidentified Lankan nationals while fishing off the Vedaranyam coast. About 300 kg of fishing nets, GPS and VHF equipment and 30 litres of diesel were stolen.
Sri Lankan court releases 56 TN fishermen
At least 56 fishermen, who were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in December, were released by a Jaffna court on Tuesday. Forty three fishermen from Rameswaram and 13 from Pudukkottai were arrested on December 18 and December 20 respectively for crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line