Opposition parties, including the DMK and MDMK, on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take immediate steps for the release of over 100 impounded mechanised boats of Tamil Nadu fishermen from Sri Lanka or ensure compensation. The CPI and AIADMK's ally DMDK also urged the Centre to get the boats released swiftly.
DMK MP Kanimozhi said a Lankan court has given a judgment for either "destroying or auctioning" the boats, which are the source of livelihood of the fishermen. "The Ministry of External Affairs should immediately intervene and take steps to ensure for return of the boats of Tamils by the Sri Lankan government," she said in a tweet.
Kanimozhi alleged Tamil Nadu fishermen continued to face attack by the Lankan Navy and also lost their fishing gear and boats.
Officials in Rameswaram, quoting information received by them, had on Sunday said a court in Jaffna has permitted authorities to destroy several Indian mechanised fishing boats seized in the last 3-4 years for allegedly crossing into the island nation territory.
Citing news reports, MDMK general secretary Vaiko said a Sri Lankan court has ordered 121 boats seized from the fishermen to be 'destroyed', adding it was shocking.
Of the over 100 boats, as many as 88 were from Rameswaram, Vaiko, Rajya Sabha MP, said in a letter to Modi.
"The government of India should take up this issue with the Sri Lankan government either for releasing the boats or to pay due compensation to the boat owners of Tamil Nadu. I would request you to take immediate effective steps in this regard," Vaiko said in the letter.
The cost of a mechanised boat was about Rs 25 lakh to Rs 40 lakh and fishermen obtained loans to buy them and were still paying huge interests, he said.
Also, the MDMK leader recalled his representations on this issue to Modi during 2015-16.
CPI State Secretary R Mutharasan said the court verdict to destroy boats added insult to injury. He wanted the Union government to make use of its good offices with Sri Lanka to get the boats released.
Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) chief Vijayakanth said the 'court order' was shocking and it would place a "question mark over the friendship between India and Srilanka." He urged the Centre to take steps for getting back the boats from the island nation.