Taking exception to the latest arrest of six Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today once again insisted that ceding of Katchatheevu islet to the island republic was the root of the problem and urged the Centre to take concerted steps to ensure release of all fishermen from Lankan custody.
"I have repeatedly and emphatically brought to your notice Tamil Nadu's consistent stance about the unconstitutionality of the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreements of 1974 and 1976 and the ceding of the Katchatheevu islet, which is root cause of the problem," she told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter.
The Indian fishermen were being denied the right to peaceful fishing in the traditional waters of the Palk Bay to which they have a historical claim, she said.
Jayalalithaa recalled that she had earlier repeatedly taken up the issue of release of Tamil Nadu fishermen held by Lankan navy, following which Colombo had agreed to free 86 of them, while she had ordered the release of two Lankan fishermen jailed in Tamil Nadu.
However, before the 86 fishermen could actually be released, 34 fishermen from Tamil Nadu, along with seven boats, were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy in two separate incidents, she pointed out.
While fishermen of Tamil Nadu were eagerly awaiting the arrival of their colleagues, six more of them were arrested early on Saturday, she said with regard to the latest incident.
"This livelihood issue of thousands of our fisherfolk needs your personal intervention. I hope that you would take concerted steps to ensure the release of all the Tamil Nadu fishermen and their boats now in Sri Lankan custody in the next few days," she said.
She also called for intervention at the highest political level to bring about a lasting solution to this long pending problem involving the lives and livelihood of hundreds of thousands of Tamil Nadu fishermen.