Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ask the Sri Lankan authorities to immediately release 16 fishermen from Thoothukudi who were arrested by Lankan Navy on March 3. The CM said the fishermen along with their boats should be released without any cases filed against them. In a letter to the Prime Minister on Monday, Jayalalithaa asked him to act urgently in this regard as the incidents of apprehension and harassment of innocent Indian fishermen by the Lankan Navy had become a regular occurrence in the past few months creating a feeling of insecurity and fear among the fishing community.
The families of the arrested 16 fishermen and various fishermen associations had appealed to the Tamil Nadu government to secure the early release of these men since they were only pursuing their livelihood in the Gulf of Mannar area, where they had been fishing all along, the Chief Minister said. She recalled that the Lankan government had always been giving assurances in various bilateral meetings that Indian fishermen apprehended while fishing would be released expeditiously without prolonged legal hurdles. The 16 fishermen were arrested, they were taken to Kalpitiya police station for further investigation and they were produced before a court. (ENS)