Talks Tied To Release Of All Fishermen: CM

Describing as extremely unfortunate the arrest of 74 fishermen and seizure of 18 boats from Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry by Lankan Navy ahead of the next round of fishermen level talks at Colombo on March 25, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Thursday said the arrests had come as a rude shock to the fishing community in the State.

Writing to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this connection, Jayalalithaa categorically told him that Colombo talks would take place only if all the arrested fishermen are released ahead of March 25. Seeking his personal intervention in this issue, she said only a decisive action, taken at the earliest, would facilitate the smooth conduct of next round of fishermen level talks.

“Inspite of the assiduous and decisive steps being taken by my government to defuse the tense situation prevailing in the coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and to create a conducive atmosphere for the smooth conduct of the bilateral fishermen level talks, the action of the Sri Lankan Navy has come as a rude shock to the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu,” the Chief Minister said.

The Chief Minister said in two separate incidents on  March 19 the Sri Lankan Navy had apprehended 74 fishermen and their 18 boats of which 37 fishermen and 11 boats belonged to Pudukottai and Thanjavur districts, 21 fishermen and 5 boats belonged to Ramanathapuram district, and 16 fishermen and 2 boats to Karaikal in Pondicherry.

Recalling her efforts to facilitate a conducive atmosphere for holding the fishermen level talks between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, the Chief Minister said due to her persistent efforts, the fishermen who were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy after the first round of talks on January 27 along with their boats, were released by the Sri Lankan courts.

The Government of Tamil Nadu had also released 39 Sri Lankan fishermen and their 18 boats. Following this, the State government had conveyed to the Government of India that the revised date for the fishermen level talks would be on March 25 at Colombo, The New Indian Express reported.

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