Chennai, Dec 16: Tamil Nadu government today said it would release 30 Sri Lankan fishermen and 19 boats on December 22 and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to prevail on the island nation to take similar action at the same time to set free fishermen from the state and their boats.
In a letter to Modi, Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said Tamil Nadu was prepared to release the 30 Sri Lankan fishermen and their 19 boats currently in custody in the state on December 22 after completion of formalities. He requested the PM to prevail on the island nation to set free 66 fishermen from the state and their 81 boats at the same time.
Referring to letters from the Union Foreign Secretary urging Tamil Nadu to release the Sri Lankan fishermen and their boats in custody here, he said the state had always cooperated with the Centre to ensure parallel and simultaneous release of fishermen of both the Indian and Sri Lankan sides.
"However, on this occasion the Government of India is insisting on Tamil Nadu initiating the process of release of the Sri Lankan fishermen and their boats." In view of the approaching Christmas festival, and in a spirit of accommodation and magnanimity and as a humanitarian gesture, Tamil Nadu is prepared to release the Sri Lankan fishermen and their boats, he added.
"I request you to ensure that the government of Sri Lanka also releases the 66 Tamil Nadu fishermen and their 81 boats which are in the custody of Sri Lanka at the same time so that they can also return home in time for Christmas."