Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today said the Centre should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line with the island nation as a settled issue as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged in the Supreme Court.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, she noted that Tamil Nadu fishermen who were in traditional waters of Palk Bay were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy yesterday and that the right historically enjoyed by them to fish in these waters was now being repeatedly infringed upon by the Sri Lankan Navy.
"I reiterate the Government of Tamil Nadu's stand that the Government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds in the Supreme Court," she said.
The CM said the prayer before the apex court was to declare the 1974 and 1976 agreements along with the Executive Order of 1976 as null and void in the absence of required mandatory constitutional amendment and to restore Katchatheevu to India and restore traditional rights of the fishermen.
Noting that fishing boats and gear were not released by the island nation with the fishermen and suffered severe damage due to long periods of disuse and exposure to heavy monsoon, she said, "The poor fishermen will be subjected to a huge permanent loss with damage of their only means of livelihood".
"I request that the fishing boats and gear of our fishermen impounded in Sri Lanka be restored in a refurbished condition at the earliest", Jayalalithaa said.
She requested the PM to direct the officials concerned in the External Affairs Ministry to take "proactive" action through diplomatic channels for the immediate release of 72 fishermen and 78 fishing boats,along with a mechanised fishing boat that were apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy.