Karunanidhi urges Indian PM to protect fishermen from unprovoked SLN attacks

[TamilNet, Sunday, 09 March 2008, 08:01 GMT]
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Saturday wrote to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to "instruct the [Indian] Coast Guard and the Navy to carry out effective patrolling and surveillance to protect Tamil Nadu fishermen from unprovoked firing" by the Sri Lankan Navy since the situation was "becoming alarming day by day and unprovoked attacks are taking place often", according to reports in the Indian media. "It is necessary to contain the arbitrary activities of the Sri Lankan Navy," his letter noted.

Kalaignar Karunanidhi underlined the necessity for the Indian Defence Ministry to give due importance to his suggestions in order to protect the fishermen. "I shall be grateful if the requests of the State Government are implemented on a war footing," he said in the letter.

He urged Dr. Manmohan Singh to "convey the concerns and sentiments of the Tamil Nadu State Government to Sri Lanka through the External Affairs Ministry with a request to ensure humanitarian treatment to the fishermen even if they inadvertently stray into the Sri Lankan waters."

In his letter, the Chief Minster expressed "anguish caused to him and to the people of Tamil Nadu" by the two shooting incidents near Kachchatheevu on March 5, resulting in the death of one fisherman and bullet injuries to another.

He admitted that "such frequent firing incidents created a sense of insecurity and unrest among the fishermen in Tamil Nadu. The protests and agitations staged by the fishermen against the firing were sometimes becoming unmanageable and creating law and order problems."

"Needless to add that we have repeatedly instructed our fishermen from crossing the IMBL but the fishermen are guided by the availability of fish which, as you know, is available plenty near Kachchatheevu- which has from time immemorial been the traditional fishing ground of fishermen of Tamil Nadu. However my request is at even in cases where the fishermen have strayed into Sri Lankan waters, the men should be treated as per International Laws and norms and not through violence and bullets."

Because of the sustained efforts of his government, Sri Lanka ordered the release of 47 of the 62 fishermen from Kanniyakumari who were detained by the Sri Lanka Navy on Thursday. Indian media reports link this immediate release to Karunanidhi's letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.



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