A demand was raised in Rajya Sabha that the government should renegotiate Katchatheevu agreement with Sri Lanka to protect the rights of Tamil fishermen in the island, under possession of the neighbouring country.
Raising the issue of plight of Tamil fishermen at the hands of Sri Lankan Navy, D Raja (CPI) said "Katchatheevu agreement should be reopened and renegotiated" to ensure fishing rights to the fishermen from India there.
"We have raised the plight of fishermen umpteen times but nothing has happened. The fishermen are in prisons, they are attacked...Even the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has repeatedly written to Centre.
He said, "I do not want mercy from government...They are not Tamil fishermen...They are Indian fishermen...Indian government should take responsibility of their fishermen and restore their rights."
V Maitreyan (AIADMK) said, "We are shocked to hear about the affidavit filed by External Affairs Ministry that Katchatheevu is a settled matter."
He congratulated the new government for ensuring release of 184 fishermen by Sri Lanka but at the same time demanded steps to ensure release of their boats impounded by the island nation.
Raising the related issue, Kanimozhi (DMK) said the government should take immediate steps for return of boats of released Tamil fishermen by Sri Lankan government.
"The Tamil fishermen are living under constant fear... government should take steps for a permanent solution," she said.
She also demanded creation of a separate Ministry for Fishery saying seafood to the tune of Rs 18,836 crore were exported last year.
"There should be a well planned strategy and dedicated Ministry for Fishery, which is the third biggest source of livelihood after agriculture," she said, drawing attention of the Prime Minister towards the matter.
The islet of Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka as per pacts of 1974 and 1976 between India and Sri Lanka and do not confer any fishing rights on fishermen from India. However, Indian fishermen can take rest in Katchatheevu island and dry their fishing nets but not catch fish.