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SOURCE: ANI

 Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin wrote a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar over the recent detentions of fishermen from the state by Sri Lankan authorities and urged him to work for a “lasting solution” to the long-standing issue.

He accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of not doing anything to retrieve the Katchatheevu island from neighbouring Sri Lanka. Notably, the issue of Katchatheevu island was a major issue raised by the BJP during the recent Lok Sabha elections. BJP targeted Congress, which was in the Centre during the agreement and DMK in Tamil Nadu for “ceding” the island creating repercussions for fishermen of the state.

“I would like to bring to your immediate attention that There is an unprecedented increase in instances of apprehension of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sn Lankan authorities in the recent weeks,” Stalin said in the letter.

The Tamil Nadu CM cited Monday’s incident, where 25 fishermen were apprehended along with two fishermen boats.

He claimed that Jaishankar told him last month that the genesis of this issue goes back to the 1974 agreement between the then governments of India and Sri Lanka.

“In the letter dated June 27, you have mentioned that the genesis of this issue goes back to 1974 following an understanding between the then Union Government and the State Government,” he said.

Stalin further alleged that DMK had opposed “tooth and nail” the Katchatheevu Agreement, and the Tamil Nadu government was not properly consulted in this regard. He added that the Union government ceded the island to Sri Lanka “completely, jeopardising and depriving the rights and interests of Indian Fishermen.”

“In this regard, I would like to point out that the DMK-led State Government opposed the Katchatheevu Agreement tooth and nail and its opposition to the same was made clear both in the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and the Parliament. The fact that the State Government was not properly consulted in this regard is well known. It is the Union Government that ceded the island to Sri Lanka completely, jeopardising and depriving the rights and interests of Indian Fishermen,” Stalin said.

Hitting out at BJP further, he said that despite the party being in power for a third consecutive term, “no tangible and meaningful effort” has been taken to retrieve the island. Stalin also accused the BJP of using the issue only as an “election-time rhetoric.”

“Despite the fact that The BJP led government is in power for the third consecutive term, no tangible and meaningful effort has been taken to retrieve the island except for using the issue as an election time rhetoric! The need of the hour is to ease the problems faced by the fishermen of Tamil Nadu and to find a lasting solution to this festering problem,” the Tamil Nadu CM said.

“Therefore, I reiterate my request to you to take necessary concrete steps to find a lasting solution to this vexatious issue so that traditional rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen are upheld,” he added.

Notably, the arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy have been a concerning issue for both the Tamil Nadu government as well as the BJP-led central government.

Earlier, EAM Jaishankar had responded to a previous letter by CM Stalin and assured him of pro-active action by the Centre on the issue.

He said that the Indian High Commission in Colombo and the Consulate in Jaffna have been expeditiously and consistently taking up such cases for the early release of those detained.

The issue was also discussed during the meeting of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe during the latter’s visit to India in July last year.