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International Maritime Boundary Line issue not a settled one, Jayalalithaa tells PM

Even as Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the recurring instances of the Sri Lankan Navy’s arrests, four TN fishermen were detained by the island nation

International Maritime Boundary Line issue not a settled one, Jayalalithaa tells PM


The Tamil Nadu government made public a letter written by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa to Prime Minister Narendra Modi voicing concern at the recurring instances of such arrests. Calling for the fishermen to be allowed to pursue their vocation in “their traditional fishing waters of Palk Bay”, Jayalalithaa urged Modi that such instances should cease immediately. 

She also asked him to take steps to secure the release of 47 fishermen, including six persons arrested on December 19. In her letter dated December 20, Jayalalithaa said, “The frequency of apprehensions and abductions of our fishermen is on the increase. These recurrent instances of attacks upon, and abductions of, our fishermen on the high seas in the Palk Bay should be stopped immediately.” Seeking Modi’s personal intervention, she urged him to direct the Ministry of External Affairs to strongly take up the matter with Lankan authorities for securing the immediate release of the fishermen and their boats. She reiterated her government’s stand that the Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) with Sri Lanka “cannot be treated as a settled question”.

Meanwhile, a latest detention was reported as four fishermen from Rameswaram were taken into custody by Sri Lanka navy while fishing near Katchatheevu in the third instance of such action this month by the island country. Fisheries officials said that Lanka navy personnel late on Monday night surrounded a boat and took its owner Palraj into custody along with three others. With the latest arrest, the total number of Indian fishermen in Sri Lankan custody has risen to 51.

 Jayalalithaa noted that she had moved Supreme Court in her personal capacity questioning the validity of two agreements between India and Sri Lanka ceding Katchatheevu islet to the island republic in the 1970s. She also reminded the prime minister of her government’s demand for a deep sea fishing package of Rs 1,520 crore, saying it was still awaiting the Centre’s approval.   

Time Line

  • Dec 20: Six fishermen from Tamil Nadu's Pudukottai district were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy while they were fishing near the Lankan coast 
  • Dec 17: Four Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested for fishing near Neduntheevu islet off Lanka. 
  • Dec 10: Ten fishermen of Karaikal were arrested on Dec 10 for allegedly crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line 
  • Nov 26: T Sasuraja, Rameswaram fishermen organisation president said six fishermen from this town, were arrested off Katchatheevu islet on similar charges

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