Jayalalithaa complains to Modi about Subramanian Swamy’s ‘advice’ to Sri Lanka on not releasing fishermen’s boats


CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Tuesday took exception to reported remarks of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy that he had advised the Sri Lankan government not to release the boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a copy of which was released to the media, the chief minister pointed to a televised interview of the BJP leader on September 1. “It is particularly distressing that a senior member of the BJP has, in a televised media interview, stated it was he who advised the Sri Lankan government not to release the boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen. This statement of Swamy has given rise to resentment and angst not only among the fishing community but also among people of Tamil Nadu,” she said.

She expressed confidence that Swamy’s remarks were not the official views of the BJP or the Union government. State BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan said Swamy’s comments pertaining to release of Indian fishermen’s boats were “spoiling the efforts” of the party and the Centre to resolve the problems of fisherfolk. “I have reported the matter to the party high command,” she said adding, Swamy’s statement is not the official line of the BJP. “We have made progress in the fishermen’s issue as meetings have been held and the PMO has also stepped in to facilitate talks between officials from both countries”.

In the last two months, 319 fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Lankan naval personnel, who seized 62 fishing boats as well. “Due to the efforts of your government at the Centre, all 319 fishermen have been released. Unfortunately, the 62 fishing boats continue to be in Sri Lankan custody,” the chief minister said. The Sri Lankan government’s inhumane and cruel strategy of not releasing the boats is causing loss of livelihood to fishermen and their families. The desperate fishermen are resorting to protests and strikes, the chief minister said.

The Tamil Nadu government raised the issue of boats in the recently-held meeting of the Indo-Sri Lanka joint committee on fisheries in New Delhi on August 29. Jayalalithaa also urged the Prime Minister to intervene and secure the safe release of 15 fishermen arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in the last two days, and all 63 boats, including the one seized on Monday.

(The Times of India)