Rameswaram, March 12: Union Minister Nirmala Seetharaman on Sunday visited fishermen who are on an agitation here over the killing of their colleague, allegedly by the Sri Lankan Navy, and urged them to give up their stir.
She also requested the mother of the deceased fisherman Bridgo and his colleagues to receive his body, now kept in the mortuary here, and make arrangements for the funeral. The minister told the fishermen that their grievances over such attacks would be conveyed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, "who will find a permanent solution to the issue".
The fishermen told the minister that they would not give up the stir as they wanted a permanent solution to the problem of such frequent attacks. Speaking to reporters after meeting the fishermen, she said the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo had taken up the matter with Sri Lanka within two hours of Bridgo being killed.
She said the island nation had not kept its promise during the tripartite talks that Indian fishermen crossing the International Maritime boundary line would not be harmed, and only arrested. The minister said the killing of the fisherman would be raised by the Indian High Commission Secretary at the March 16 tripartite talks.
She said investigation was on into the killing after which suitable steps will be taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents. Seetharaman said the Centre would take steps to see that those who opened fire on the fisherman were brought to justice. Discussions were also on with Sri Lanka to release the 136 boats seized by the island nation, she said.
The minister said the BJP government had taken various steps since coming to power in 2011 to address issues of the fishermen. Five fishermen languishing in Sri Lankan prisons since November 6, 2011 had been saved from the gallows. Since 2014 till December 2016, a total of 1,753 fishermen detained by Sri Lanka had been released. The government had also introduced various welfare schemes for the fishermen, she said.
Referring to the fishermen's charge that government was discriminating against fishermen from Tamil Nadu while it had promptly arrested Italian marines for the killing of two Kerala fishermen, she said both were different incidents and should not be compared. Union Minister Pon Radhakrishan was also present during the meeting.