TN fishermen issue: Display greater fortitude, Jayalalithaa to PM

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Chennai, Sept 29: In a scathing attack over the latest detention of Indian fishermen by Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa accused the UPA government of virtually abandoning its 'defenceless' fishermen.

"Unless the Government of India displays greater fortitude and firmness and acts with alacrity through diplomatic channels to put pressure on Sri Lanka, there appears to be little chance of securing the prompt release of our fishermen or to avert such instances in future," she said.

In yet another strongly-worded letter yesterday to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the second in the last fortnight, she said, "I also wonder if the Sri Lankan Government is at all serious in engaging with the Government of India to peacefully resolve this question."

Referring to the proposal made in her previous letter on September 20 for arranging talks between fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, she said, "It is distressing to note that even before the ink on this letter had dried, there has been yet another incident of detention by the Sri Lankan Navy of 20 Indian fishermen of Rameshwaram fishing base."

She also recalled the arrest of 19 fishermen from Pudukkottai on September 19 by the Sri Lankan Navy. "Unless the government of India takes positive and concrete steps to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to rein in their Navy to desist from these hostile attacks and take action to secure the release of these fishermen, there seems to be no scope for the peaceful existence and assured livelihood of Tamil Nadu's fishermen," she said.

Jayalalithaa recalled the arrest of 19 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.

Alleging that the Centre's stance to the issue "appeared to be totally insensitive", she said it "has virtually abandoned its poor and defenceless fishermen to face an uncertain future caused by the risk of daily attacks and abduction at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy."

Jayalalithaa sought Singh's intervention to secure the release of a total of 136 fishermen and their 29 boats from the custody of the Sri Lankan government. She also expressed disappointment over non-release of 14 boats of 76 fishermen set free recently.

PTI

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