Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sri Lanka detains 23 TN fishermen

Even as diplomatic talks between India and Sri Lanka were going on over Tamil Nadu's complaints of attacks on its fishermen, theLankan navy on Monday detained 23 fishermenfrom Rameswaram after they strayed into its territorial waters. The fishermen have been detained in a police station in Talaimannar in Sri Lanka's northwestern coast. Tension prevailed in Rameswaram when the fishermen did not return. Their colleagues, who had also put out to sea along with them but managed to get back, met officials of the state fisheries department and demanded that steps be taken for their immediate release. Hours after the news broke, chief minister J Jayalalithaa wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention to prevail upon the Lankan government to release the fishermen and their five boats. Jayalalithaa said the frequent arrests of fishermen by the Lankan navy created a lot of tension and unrest among fishermen in the state. She reminded Singh that last month when four fishermen whose boat had capsized were arrested and remanded in custody by Kayts Court in Sri Lanka she had written to him. In your June 15 letter you had informed me that the matter had been taken up with the Sri Lankan government, she said.

The incident comes barely two weeks after both national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and external affairs secretary Nirupama Rao met their counterparts in Sri Lanka to apprise them about the problems faced by Indian fishermen. Menon had met Jayalalithaa before he left for Colombo. In her letter, Jayalalithaa said Shivshankar Menon had met her on two occasions, once before leaving for Colombo and again during her meeting with the Prime Minister.

According to reports from Rameswaram, the fishermen put out to sea on Monday in about 620 mechanised boats. With fish catch sparse in the Indian waters, they headed for the Kachchativu island. On spotting the Lankan naval vessels, most of the fishermen turned back and escaped. But the 23 fishermen along with their five boats were nabbed.

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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