CM Stalin expresses concern over arrests of TN fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, calls for Centre’s intervention

He urged diplomatic intervention by PM Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to ensure the repatriation of the fishermen.

BySouth First Desk

Published Feb 19, 2024 | 9:47 AMUpdatedFeb 19, 2024 | 9:47 AM

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin, on Sunday, 18 February, expressed concern over Indian fishermen from the state continuing to be detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, and urged the Union government to take decisive action to safeguard the interests of the fishers.

On X, he tagged a news report of a fishermen’s protest in Rameswaram against the incarceration of some Tamil Nadu fishermen in Sri Lanka, and said, “The continuous apprehension of Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy is deeply concerning.”

“Over the past two months, there has been a sharp rise in arrests, with a staggering 69 fishermen apprehended. What’s more alarming is the unjust branding of three fishermen as habitual offenders, leading to their prolonged detention,” he said.

“This situation not only threatens the livelihoods of our fishermen but also puts their hard-earned savings at risk as their boats are nationalised by the Sri Lankan Government,” he added.

He urged diplomatic intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to ensure the repatriation of the fishermen picked up by the Lankan Navy for alleged violation of the international maritime boundary. He also sought action for the release of their boats.

“It is crucial to prioritise this matter and take decisive action to safeguard the interests of our fishermen, for they are not just Tamils but proud Indians,” the Chief Minister added.

Also Read: Stalin makes urgent plea to PM Modi for the release of fishermen arrested by Sri Lanka

CM’s previous pleas to PM Modi

On 9 February, in a letter to Prime Minister Modi, Stalin underscored the gravity of the situation, revealing that the Sri Lankan Navy arrested 243 fishermen and seized 37 boats in the past year alone.

He emphasised that these incidents not only threatened the economic stability of the fishing communities but also endangered the cultural and social fabric of the region, as “traditional fishing waters, which have been relied upon for generations, are becoming increasingly restricted”.

The chief minister raised the alarm on the escalating violence faced by Tamil fishermen, stating, “The situation is further aggravated by increasing instances of attacks on Tamil fishermen and damages to their boats and equipment by unidentified persons, endangering lives and exacerbating economic hardships.”

Stalin also pointed to the 2018 amendment to the Fisheries Act by the Government of Sri Lanka, allowing for the nationalisation of foreign fishing vessels. He highlighted that this amendment prevents the return of seized boats of Indian fishermen, causing significant financial distress without compensation.

In his letter, Stalin urgently requested the Prime Minister’s attention to address the issue diplomatically, ensuring the safety and well-being of Tamil fishermen. He urged for “swift and decisive action to revive the Joint Working Group set up for this purpose.”

Additionally, he called for immediate efforts to secure the release of 77 fishermen and their 151 boats from Sri Lanka.

(With PTI inputs)