Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Monday asked the Centre to "arrange" for the immediate release of 23 fishermen from the state held by the Sri Lankan Navy and to tell Colombo to instruct its Navy to refrain from arresting fishermen in their traditional waters.
"I also wish to point out that unless the Government of India intervenes in this issue, there is every possibility of recurrence of such incidents in the coming months," she said in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Stating that incidents of Sri Lankan Navy apprehending and harassing Indian fishermen had become a regular occurrence, she said Colombo "temporarily" suspends such activities only during diplomatic level meetings but resumes them immediately thereafter.
Asking Singh to take up with Lanka the issue of immediate release of the fishermen, taken into custody on Sunday, she accused the island nation`s Navy of trying to "instill fear in the minds of the fishermen" and prevent them from fishing in their traditional waters, Katchatheevu -- an islet ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974.
She said the Lankan Navy`s actions had created a feeling of insecurity in the minds of the fishermen, who felt there is no guarantee for their lives and property in the sea.
Fishermen of districts adjoining Palk Bay, especially from Rameswaram area, are targeted by the Sri Lankan Navy, making it impossible for them to conduct fishing," she said.
The latest incident involving the Lankan navy is the second in 15 days and fishermen were " fishing in the sea off Katchatheevu, in their traditional fishing waters when they were arrested," Jayalalithaa, who had filed a case in the Supreme Court seeking the retrieval of the islet, said.