Chennai: Accusing the Sri Lankan Navy of detaining stranded Indian fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Wednesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to secure the immediate release of all 24 fishermen, lodged in jails in the island nation, and their 75 boats.
Citing the arrest of four Rameswaram fishermen two days ago, he expressed concern over a "new trend" followed by the island Navy in arresting fishermen whose boats develop "mechanical snag" and sought quick intervention to halt this.
"This new trend of apprehending fishermen in boats that develop mechanical snag by the Sri Lankan Navy is a matter of concern for my government. An immediate intervention at the highest level is sought to arrest this new trend," Panneerselvam said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
Four fishermen of Rameswaram who set out for fishing on October 6 drifted to Delft Island in Sri Lanka, as their boat was grounded due to a snag and they were arrested by Sri Lankan authorities, he apprised him.
"May I request you to instruct the concerned ministry to take urgent steps to secure the immediate release of 24 fishermen who are languishing in Sri Lankan jails and the release of 75 boats in Sri Lankan custody," he said.
Reiterating the State's demand for a financial package from the Centre to improve the socio-economic status of fishermen, he also wanted abrogation of the 1974 and 1976 agreements between India and Sri Lanka under which Katchatheevu was ceded to the neighbouring island.
The traditional and historical fishing grounds of the Palk Bay and Katchatheevu should be restored to Tamil Nadu fishermen, he urged.