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Posted On : 19 Jun, 2017  Source : PTI  Place : Chennai 
Take strong diplomatic stand on fishermen issue: TN CM to PM
Raising the issue of the continuing arrests of fishermen from the state by the Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E K Palaniswami today urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a "strong diplomatic stand" to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

In a letter to Modi, he referred to yesterday's arrest of five fishermen from Mandapam, near Rameswaram, and seizure of their mechanised boat and said such repeated detentions created an "unrest among the fishermen community".

Palaniswami recalled that late chief minister J Jayalalithaa had written to Modi multiple times over the repeated instances of abduction and apprehension of innocent fishermen from the state.

He requested the prime minister to "undertake a strong diplomatic" stand, so as to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.

The chief minister said his government reaffirmed its commitment to find a pragmatic working solution to the issue and added that it had initiated several measures with the Centre's support.

This necessitated an "urgent intervention from the highest level of the Sri Lankan administration", he said.

Palaniswami requested Modi to direct the External Affairs Ministry to secure the immediate release of 16 fishermen, including the five arrested yesterday, besides setting free 136 fishing boats "without any delay".

This is the second letter written by him to Modi on the issue in the last one week.

On June 13, the chief minister had sought the prime minister's intervention in getting back 135 fishing boats, impounded by Sri Lanka over a period of time, saying the fishermen had been deprived of their livelihood. He had also sought steps for the release of the detained fishermen.

Raising the issue of the continuing arrests of fishermen from the state

A case has been registered by the police in connection with the alleged bribing of voters of R K Nagar constituency, where a bypoll slated for April 12 was rescinded by the Election Commission over use of money power, the state assembly was informed today.

Chief Minister K Palaniswami said the case had been registered by the police and investigation was on.

He was responding to Leader of Opposition M K Stalin (DMK) and Congress members who raised the issue of EC asking the state chief electoral officer to lodge a police case on the alleged bribing of voters in R K Nagar constituency in north Chennai.

"A probe is on," he said citing the EC's directive to the CEO which was referred in an RTI reply to a Chennai-based advocate.

However, DMK members were on their feet after Palaniswami's reply saying they were not satisfied with his response.

Later, they staged a walkout.

The DMK's allies the Congress and the lone IUML member followed suit.

Earlier, soon after the Question Hour ended, Stalin sought adjournment of the House to debate the EC's directive.

Speaker P Dhanapal allowed the DMK leader to raise the issue but asked him not to get into the details of it, saying there was not much time to obtain sufficient inputs from the government.

Later, some remarks made by Stalin in connection with the issue were expunged by the Speaker.

The issue of EC's directive came to fore after a copy of its response to a plea under the Right to Information Act by the city-based lawyer M P Vairakkannan was circulated to media yesterday.

The EC said it had directed the state CEO on April 18 to ask the R K Nagar returning officer to file a complaint with police for bribing the voters.