In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, released to the media, Jayalalthaa said the fishermen were peacefully pursuing their livelihood in their traditional fishing waters. "The meek and pusillanimous response of the Indian government to these repeated instances of apprehension have emboldened the Lankan Navy to illegally arrest and detain more and more of our fishermen," she said.
The chief minister has written several such letters to the PM, seeking intervention on the issue.
In her latest letter to Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa was pointing to the recent detention of 20 fishermen from Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy. The fishermen set out for fishing on Wednesday from Jagadhapattinam and Kottaipattinam fishing bases of Pudukottai in five mechanized boats. While they were engaged in fishing in their traditional fishing waters, they were apprehended by the Lankan Navy on Thursday, which also happened to be 'World Fisheries Day.'
The chief minister criticized the UPA-led Congress government at the Centre for little or no action to convey India's strong protest or to use coercive diplomacy to put an end to the marauding attacks against fishermen of Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy. The incidents of abduction and detention of fishermen from Tamil Nadu for long periods in Sri Lankan prisons have multiplied. "The continued insensitive and ham-handed treatment of the Tamil Nadu fishermen issue in the Palk Bay, is fast alienating them."
The very serious livelihood problem of hundreds of thousands of our fishermen was being relegated to the backburner as something to be sorted out by the fishermen associations of both countries, she said.
Jayalalithaa wanted the Prime Minister to personally intervene and use the highest diplomatic channels to secure the safe release of 80 fishermen, including 60, who were apprehended earlier and continued to languish in Sri Lankan jails. Around 47 fishing boats of Indian fishermen are still in Lankan custody.