In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa said that at a time when her government was taking a ‘conciliatory approach’ to help facilitate talks between the fishermen of India and Sri Lanka, it was ‘unfortunate’ that instances of attack and abduction of our fishermen continue unabated.

"The continuance of such attacks and abductions will not make for a congenial atmosphere for any meaningful talks even at the level of fishermen associations of the two countries. Hence, I would like to reiterate that the Government of India must take a strong line and prevail upon Sri Lankan Government to end such unprovoked attacks and arrests," she said in her letter, which was released on Tuesday.

Jayalalithaa said the state government's proposal for talks between fishermen representatives from India and Sri Lanka on January 20, next year was reportedly ‘agreeable’ to Centre also, and added that a formal confirmation was awaited from New Delhi.

Referring to the arrest of 40 fishermen from Puthukottai and Ramanathapuram districts on December 28 and 29 by the Lankan navy, she said such instances have sent shock waves across the fishermen community in the state.

Jayalalithaa said the right to livelihood of Indian fishermen to fish in their traditional waters of the Palk Bay to which they have a 'historic claim' was being infringed upon repeatedly and effectively abrogated by Sri Lanka.

"This is caused in no small measure due to the Government of India having entered into an ill-advised agreement which ceded the islet of Katchatheevu, historically part of India’s territory and indisputably an integral part of India," she said.

Jayalalithaa said despite several joint statements, Sri Lanka continued with “unabated, brutal, unprovoked attacks and instances of opening of fire on innocent fishermen.

“India’s ‘meek and weak’ response had only emboldened that navy to act against the Indians,” she added.

Jayalalithaa recalled that she had asked the Prime Minister to summon Sri Lanka's envoy to India to register India’s ‘strongest disapproval’ of such arrests.

The chief minister reiterated her earlier demand for Centre's intervention to ensure the release of over 200 fishermen already languishing in Sri Lankan jails besides retrieving their boats.

(Agencies)

Latest News from India News Desk