CHENNAI: Voicing her serious concern over increasing attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen allegedly by the Sri Lankan navy, chief minister Jayalalithaa today said such assaults on Indian citizens should be viewed as “an act of provocation and aggression against India.”Jayalalithaa conveyed her strong sentiments to foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai, who called on her here ahead of his three-day Colombo visit beginning today. “Incidents of apprehension and assault of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy should be viewed not as an assault on Tamil fishermen, but as an assault on Indian citizens and should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to firing across the borders of India by neighbours such as Pakistan and China,” she told Mathai.
Noting that 16 such incidents had taken place since this May, she said the attacks should be viewed as a national issue and not an isolated problem of Tamil Nadu alone, a state government release quoting her said. She said most incidents of detention and harassment have occurred off Ramanathapuram and Nagapattinam districts and that the Sri Lankan miscreants/fishermen have in the past one month, taken away fishing implements and catch from Tamil Nadu fishermen, especially off Nagapattinam District coast.
“As the boats sailing out of Sri Lanka are under the close surveillance of the Sri Lankan Navy, there is every likelihood that these incidents took place with the knowledge of the Sri Lankan Navy,” she said adding Mathai should take up the matter with the Sri Lankan authorities during his visit there. She also told him of the apprehensions of local fishermen that people who threatened them may actually be personnel of the Sri Lankan Navy in the guise of fishermen.