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When the truth hurts

November 30, 2011


TAMIL Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has blown a gasket…. She used to keep telling India that the TN fishermen were not engaged in any illegal activity in … Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. But the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has given … lie to her claim; it has told the Madras High Court in a counter-affidavit in response to a public interest litigation that … Indian fishermen cross the International Maritime Boundary and fish in … Sri Lankan waters using banned methods…. The ICG has made no revelation. That the Tamil Nadu fishing fleet is engaged in poaching … is … well known. Even CM Jayalalithaa is aware of the situation … but she has sought to suppress the truth for political reasons.

Now that the ICG has apprised the Indian judiciary of the factual position … she has … written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling upon him to step in to have the ICG retract its affidavit….

It will be interesting to see whether the central government … will capitulate to her whimsical demand. … If the centre buckles under pressure from Tamil Nadu, it will not only create a very bad precedent but also be seen to be promoting the plunder of Sri Lanka’s fishing resources.

Condemning the ICG’s affidavit … Jayalalithaa has said, “If this stand is implemented, it will mean that the Tamil Nadu fishermen have to stop fishing and starve….” Is it that she thinks the Tamil Nadu fishermen should be allowed to flout all international laws and violate Sri Lanka’s sovereignty with impunity? What she fears might happen to her fishermen has already happened to their counterparts in northern Sri Lanka…. The Jaffna fishermen are staging protests demanding an end to poaching by the Tamil Nadu … fleet. Their livelihood has been threatened…. Last February, they took the law into their own hands capturing … scores of Indian fish poachers.

Jayalalithaa insists that the Tamil Nadu fishermen must be able to fish in the Palk Bay without any geographical or political boundaries because they have been doing so since time immemorial. Her thinking defies logic. What would happen if fishermen all over the world disregarded the existence of such internationally recognised boundaries and took to poaching? ... — (Nov 27)