Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a letter dated September 25 that Sasikumar, Anthony, Soosainayaham and Arokiam were arrested by Iranian Coast Guard on September 22 when they 'inadvertently strayed' into that country's waters.

The four fishermen from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu were engaged in fishing in Qatar on contract basis and now languishing in a prison on Kish Island in Iran, she told Modi.

They were the sole breadwinners of their families and they had gone to Qatar to eke out a livelihood and "their prolonged incarceration will severely affect their families and dependents in India," she said.

"I request you to kindly personally intervene in the matter and direct the Embassy of India in Tehran to take effective legal steps to secure the immediate release of these poor and innocent fishermen," she said in the letter released by the state government on Friday.

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