Chennai: Accusing the Centre of showing “hopelessly inadequate response” to arrest of Indian fishermen by Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has said the island country’s “repressive” navy was “establishing its authoritarian presence in the Palk Bay by arresting innocent fishermen.”

This has caused angst and resentment among the people of Tamil Nadu, she told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter dated January 6, where she referred to the latest arrest of the state’s fishermen by the Lankan navy and sought his intervention to secure their release.

“The repressive Sri Lankan Navy is establishing its authoritarian presence in the Palk Bay by chasing and arresting unarmed innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu who offer no provocation,” she said.

“These oppressive acts of the Lankan Navy on the direction of the emboldened Sri Lankan regime have caused a great deal of suffering and coupled with the hopelessly inadequate response of the Government of India, have given rise to considerable resentment and angst not only amongst the fishermen community, but also amongst the entire population of Tamil Nadu,” she said.

Jayalalithaa alleged that the Indian Government “has been a mute spectator all along and not at all willing to understand the sufferings of its own fishermen and their families and intervene effectively.”

The bread winners of poor fishermen families were kept under detention for months together and the only assets they possess to earn livelihood, their boats, were also being ruined there due to inaction of the Centre, she said.

Referring to last week’s arrest of 25 fishermen while “fishing in their traditional waters in Gulf of Mannar,” and 250 others languishing in Lankan jails, Jayalalithaa sought Singh’s immediate personal intervention and use diplomatic channels of the Government in a ‘concrete and decisive manner’ with Lankan authorities to secure their immediate release.

The state government released the letter today.

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