Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK president M. Karunanidhi have asked the central government to take steps to stop the attacks on Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka.
While Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and said the Sri Lankan government had been “emboldened” by the “soft handling of the issue”, Karunanidhi also condemned the attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy and said the central government must take measures to find a permanent solution.
In her letter to Manmohan Singh, the text of which was released to the media Monday, Jayalalithaa referred to the Aug 18 attack and said: “The Sri Lankan Navy, emboldened by the soft handling of the issue by the Government of India, is attacking/harassing the fishermen of Tamil Nadu with impunity.”
“The statements at diplomatic level meetings of the two countries stating that ‘the use of force on fishermen cannot be justified by any means’ remain only on paper and are honoured more in the breach by the Sri Lankan Navy, who seem to be making a mockery of the entire diplomatic process,” Jayalalithaa said.
According to her, 18 fishermen from two villages in Nagapattinam district ventured into the sea Aug 17 and 18 in five boats. They came under attack while they were fishing near Vellapallam coast.
She said the navy attacked the fishermen with knives and rubber rods and also damaged their nets, seized their ice boxes, food and other fishing implements and dumped them into the sea.
Stressing that the incident was yet another instance of the high handedness of the Sri Lankan navy, she said: “I am distressed to once again have to point out that the incidents of harassment of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy simply continue unabated.
“I had already informed you in my letter dated 23.7.2012 that, unless the Government of India intervenes in this issue, there is every possibility of recurrence of such incidents in the coming months and this incident reinforces our apprehension.”
DMK chief Karunanidhi said in his statement that during 1991-2011, there had been 167 instances of attacks on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, in which 85 people were killed and 180 injured. He said 146 boats had been impounded and 746 fishermen were arrested between 2006 and 2011.
The island nation had so far released 131 boats and 741 fishermen, he said.