Chennai: DMK, which quit the UPA over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, on Sunday, slammed the Centre for adopting a 'discriminatory' approach in protecting fishermen from Tamil Nadu, who have been suffering at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy. While the Centre initiated a series of diplomatic and legal steps when two Italian Marines killed two fishermen from Kerala, the same approach was lacking when Tamil Nadu fishermen were battered by the Island nation's Navy, DMK chief M Karunanidhi said in a letter to his partymen.
Karunanidhi, while focusing on the plight of Tamil fishermen, questioned the Centre with a poser, "What has the Indian government got to say over the arrest of 19 Tamil fishermen who are lodged in a Lankan prison and whose remand has now been extended till April 11?" Nineteen fishermen from Tamil Nadu were arrested by the Lankan Navy on March 13 for allegedly crossing into its territory and were later remanded to judicial custody in a prison at Anuradhapuram.
The DMK patriarch also sought to know from the Centre on how it would justify the 'discrimination' of fishermen from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. "Is it justifiable to discriminate between fishermen from Kerala and Tamil Nadu? So far, 600 Tamil fishermen have been killed by the Sri Lankan Navy. Were there at least one instance, where the Indian government has shown the same interest, approach and promptness in coming to the rescue of Tamil fishermen, as it had shown in the Kerala fishermen and Italian Marines issue?," he stated.
He found fault with the way the state government handled the arrest of five Sri Lankan fishermen and pointed out, "While arrested Tamil fishermen's remands are being extended (in Sri Lanka), those arrested Sinhalese fishermen are being released here in a haste." Referring to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh talking tough in the Parliament to ensure the return of two Italian Marines when Italy had refused to send them back to India, Karunanidhi said the Centre should adopt the same approach in dealing with the Tamil Nadu fishermen issue.