Chennai(PTI): Taking potshots at other political parties for claiming credit over release of five Indian fishermen from Sri Lanka, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam today asserted that his AIADMK-led government’s initiatives saved them from gallows and led to their freedom.
AIADMK TN govenment takes credit for fishermen release
In a statement here he said AIADMK government is the ‘true friend’ of the fishermen community and expressed ‘regret’ over attempts to politicise the matter.03 Recalling various welfare initiatives launched by J Jayalalithaa as Chief Minister since AIADMK stormed to power in 2011, including hike in assistance to fishermen during the lean season, he said it was she who had persistenly pressurised the Centre for the release of the five, even with former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during UPA regime.
“Since this was an international issue, Tamil Nadu government could not have directly contacted Sri Lanka. Only Centre and External Affairs Ministry could communicate and take action. It was Amma (Jayalalithaa) and state government which continuously pressed Centre to discharge its moral responsibility in this matter,” he said.
Accordingly, Centre intervened and ensured their release which was a matter of joy, he said.
“Under these circumstances, it is a matter of regret that some politicians are trying to politicise the issue, claiming credit for the release of the five fishermen and this amounts to demeaning them. What steps these persons had taken during the last three years (for their release),” he asked.
Panneeselvam said soon after Centre decided to file an appeal against the death sentence awarded to the five by a Sri Lankan court, the state government immediately allocated Rs 20 lakh towards litigation expenses on the request made by the Indian High Commission there.
Tamil Nadu government had yesterday handed over cheques for Rs three lakh each upon their arrival here by a team of Ministers.
Panneerselvam also vowed to continue to strive for the welfare of the community.
Meanwhile, BJP’s state unit president Tamizhisai Sounderrajan was critical of Tamil Nadu government for refusing to acknowledge Narendra Modi government’s efforts in securing fishermen release, saying a word of praise for the NDA could have been good in the backdrop of Centre-state relations.
She said many political parties and individuals had thanked the BJP government at the Centre but the state had not done so.
She appealed that the issue should not be politicised.
In his statement, Panneerselvam insisted that it was the AIADMK government that swiftly responded to fishermen’s distress calls, strived for their protection and ensured their livelihood.
He listed out the pro-fishermen initiatives launched by his predecessor, including hiking assistance to fishermen during the fishing ban and lean seasons besides sharing half of the premium cost in a group insurance scheme, benefiting 6.51 lakh of them.
He also recalled other measures including diesel subsidy for country fishing boats, even as his government was constructing fishing harbours and landing centres at a cost of Rs 508 crore.
Panneerselvam said in order to seek a lasting solution to this vexed issue, Jayalalithaa had moved the Supreme Court seeking retrieval of Katchatheevu, an islet ceded by India to Sri Lanka by way of two agreements in 1974 and 1976.