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Chennai, Sep 11 (IANS) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa on Thursday urged the central government to give a "firm, clear, unequivocal" message to Sri Lanka to end the arrests of Indian fishermen in the sea.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi released to the media here, Jayalalithaa said Sri Lanka’s attitude towards the fishermen, who are from Tamil Nadu, had only hardened.
"Even as they have released detained Indian fishermen, they have not released any of the 64 boats impounded since Jan 1," she said.
"They have also started detaining fishermen and boats that are in distress or engaged in the rescue of distressed boats."
Stressing that this has to be arrested, Jayalalithaa said: "This is possible only if a firm, clear, unequivocal and unambiguous message is sent out by the government to the Sri Lankan side that these hostile acts against Indian fishermen would not be tolerated and should cease."
She said such a message needs to be delivered "at the highest level on the Sri Lankan side" as the impulse for such "a cruel and ruthless strategy against Tamil Nadu fishermen appears to flow from the very top".
"This is apparent from an interview given to an Indian newspaper by Sri Lankan President (Mahinda Rajapaksa) in which he is quoted as saying that the impounded fishing boats from Tamil Nadu would not be released," she said.
According to her, 57 Indian fishermen and eight boats were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on September 10-11.
The chief minister also pressed Modi to take steps to abrogate the 1974 and 1976 agreements with Sri Lanka and retrieve Katchatheevu islet and provide funds to fishermen so that they can foray into newer work areas.
Sri Lanka has been arresting Indian fishermen who it says intrude into its waters.