Chennai: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take up with Sri Lanka and secure the release of 64 jailed Indian fishermen along with their 38 boats.
In a letter to Modi, Jayalalithaa said Monday`s arrest of 11 fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy followed the June 19 arrest of seven fishermen from Nagapattinam off Sri Lanka`s east coast.
"Those fishermen also continue to be in Sri Lankan custody," she pointed out.
According to her, the permanent solution to the fishermen issue lies in the retrieval of the Katchatheevu islet to which India has a strong legal and historical claim.
"The unconstitutional Indo-Sri Lankan Agreements of 1974 and 1976 should be nullified and the traditional rights of our fishermen to fish in the Palk Bay restored," she said.
"Hence, the government of India should not treat the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka as a settled question as the constitutionality of the 1974 and 1976 agreements have been challenged on extremely valid and legal grounds by me in my personal capacity and also by the government of Tamil Nadu in the Supreme Court," she said.
Jayalalithaa expressed her hope that the central and state governments "working in tandem can find a lasting solution to the long-standing issue of the safety, security and livelihood of our fishermen in the Palk Bay".
She said the issue required a concerted and sustained diplomatic effort.
"Until such time, the government of India must impress upon the Sri Lankan government to abstain from attacks on and abduction of our innocent fishermen on the high seas.
"Further, the joint mechanisms designed to ensure the speedy release of apprehended fishermen should be effectively activated," she said.