Chennai, March 8 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has urged the Indian government to use diplomatic channels to secure the release by March 13 of the 177 Indian fishermen jailed in Sri Lanka.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh released to the media Saturday, Jayalalithaa said the release must take place before leaders of the fishing communities from both countries meet March 13.
“I strongly urge you to ensure that the matter is immediately taken up at the highest diplomatic level for the immediate release of the 177 Tamil Nadu fishermen and their 44 boats,” she said.
The 177 includes 24 fishermen detained March 5 along with their five boats which were seized.
“All our fishermen and their boats should be released prior to the talks scheduled March 13,” she said.
Referring to the recent arrest of 24 Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, Jayalalithaa told Manmohan Singh that the repeated arrests made her wonder whether Colombo was deliberately vitiating the environment before the talks.
“The ineffective and weak response from the government of India to these continuous incidents of apprehension and attack on our fishermen in their traditional fishing waters of the Palk Bay has only further emboldened the Sri Lankan Navy to act in a brazen manner,” she said.