Chennai: Expressing serious concern over the arrest of 16 fishermen from the state by Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Monday sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to secure their early release.

"I am pained to point out that the incidents of apprehension and harassment of innocent Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy have become a regular occurrence in the past few months creating a feeling of insecurity and fear among the fishermen community", she said in a letter to Singh.

Noting that Colombo had always assured India in various bilateral meetings that Indian fishermen apprehended while fishing would be released expeditiously, she asked Singh to take up the issue with the Sri Lanka for the immediate release of 16 fishermen with their boats without filing any cases.

She said the fishermen apprehended by Sri Lankan Navy on Sunday, were reportedly taken to Kalpitiya Police Station for further investigation and it was learnt that they have been produced in a Court. The Chief Minister said the families of arrested fishermen and various fishermen associations had appealed to her government to secure their early release since they were only pursuing the livelihood in Gulf of Mannar region, where they have been fishing all along.

The fishermen from Tuticorin district were arrested on the charge of violating  Sri Lanka's  maritime boundary. While Sri Lankan Navy said 16 fishermen were arrested, a Tamil Nadu fisheries official had on Sunday said 22 were detained.

(Agencies)

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