Chennai (Tamil Nadu) [India], February 13 (ANI): The Sri Lankan Navy released the 18 fishermen arrested from Tamil Nadu's Rameswaram for allegedly crossing the border.

The fishermen reached Chennai on Tuesday and were welcomed at the airport.

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The fishermen were apprehended while they were fishing near Delft Island in Palk Bay Sea on February 8.

As per the fishermen's association, two fishing boats were also seized.

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Earlier on February 6, twelve fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on January 13, were released and reached Chennai airport.

The recurring arrests of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan navy have become a source of concern, not only for the Central government but also for the authorities in Tamil Nadu.

On February 5, in a move aimed at drawing attention to their longstanding grievances, Rameswaram fishermen held a symbolic strike and outlined a series of demands to address the challenges they face.

The fishermen also declared their intent to return their voter ID cards to the central government and boycott the elections if their demands remain unmet.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin expressed concerns about the increase in attacks on members of the state's fishing community in the region and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and resolve the issue at the earliest.

In his letter to Prime Minister Modi, Chief Minister Stalin stated, "I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the alarming increase in incidents of apprehension of Tamil fishermen and their boats by the Sri Lankan authorities. This issue severely impacts the right to livelihood of these fishermen, as the communities have utilised these fishing waters for generations."

CM Stalin urged Prime Minister Modi to renew the Joint Action Group to resolve fishermen's issues. He also highlighted a 'significant increase' in the number of fishermen being arrested.

"The traditional fishing waters that Tamil fishermen have relied upon for generations are getting increasingly restricted, making it difficult to sustain their livelihood impacting the economic stability of these communities. This also threatens the cultural and social fabric of the region that revolves around the fishing industry. During 2023, the Sri Lankan navy arrested 243 fishermen and seized 37 boats. However, in the past 28 days alone, 88 fishermen and 12 boats were apprehended in six incidents," Stalin wrote.

He mentioned that a legislation recently passed in Sri Lanka allows the country to nationalise the seized boats, which could drive members of the state's fishing community into penury.

DMK Leader RS Bharathi, had alleged that the ruling BJP is not allowing a discussion in Parliament on the fishermen's issue.

"If the DMK raises its voice to discuss this in Parliament, they say that it cannot be discussed. The Tamil Nadu government has written 35 times to the Minister of External Affairs regarding the fishermen issue. Similarly, letters have been written to the Prime Minister 13 times, but the central government has not taken any action on all of them," he told reporters in Chennai. (ANI)

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