Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned they say and that aptly puts to context the feelings of Jayalalitha towards Sri Lanka. But, the BJP high powered delegation led by Dr. Subramaniam Swamy who arrived in Sri Lanka at the invitation of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies recently made explicitly clear that Tamil Nadu would not come between Indo-Lanka relations and also thanked the Sri Lankan President for arresting but releasing the Indian fishermen while confiscating the boats. It was the boat owners that forced the Indian fishermen to poach into Sri Lankan waters because the Indian side had no fish. These are some realities that the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu cannot ignore and her tantrums are dampening the otherwise positive outlook of the Modi-led BJP Government. She should be advised to stop her tantrums and start looking at how the Indian fishermen can be absorbed into a new avenue of livelihood if there are no fish to fish in Indian waters.
The International Maritime Border Line drawn up in 1974 and 1976 is a bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister can cry and hoot but she cannot change the legality of this agreement honored by the 2 sovereign nations.
Katchchetivu came under the jurisdiction of Sri Lanka following the IMBL and Sri Lanka's claim to Katchchaitivu was made in 1924 while as far back as 1876 the island was referred to as belonging to Sri Lanka even the colonial invaders regarded the island as belonging to Sri Lanka.
Thus, with a bilateral agreement in place it is Tamil Nadu fishermen who are violating the IMBL and the arrest of fishermen poaching into Sri Lankan waters cannot be faulted on Sri Lanka.
We realize that the issue at hand is as a result of the Indian side of the marine bed affected as a result of internationally banned bottom trawling. It is because commercial fishing has ignored to look after the source from which it makes money that there are no fish on Indian waters along the Tamil Nadu coast. Sri Lanka is not to be blamed because there are no fish in the Indian waters. The Tamil Nadu Government must take blame for allowing internationally banned bottom trawlers to operate.
We are well aware that India had been making millions from poaching into Sri Lankan waters using bottom trawlers and stealing the shrimps, prawns and fish that ideally belong to the fishermen of Sri Lanka. These poached fish calculated into years would account for theft and loss of millions of revenue to Sri Lanka. This cannot go on not just because it is a violation of territorial rights, theft of fish that do not belong to India but more importantly the manner of fishing will end up totally ruining the marine environment and destroying marine life and eventually lead to no fish on Sri Lankan waters as well.
The environmental impact and future of marine life is what should take prominence in any diplomatic discussions.
The Tamil Nadu Government and its Chief Minister should accept fault on several angles.
Tamil Nadu fishermen violating internationally recognized IMBL and bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka
Tamil Nadu fishermen using bottom trawlers that are internationally banned
Tamil Nadu coast marine bed destroyed because of bottom trawling and so no fish for the Indian fishermen to fish
If the Indian coast had no fish as a result of the Indian fishermen destroying the marine life, should the Tamil Nadu authorities have taken measures to look into how the Indian fishermen and their families would survive? The solution is not to poach on waters that belong to other nations. It is not a long time solution or a viable solution. It is as a result of Tamil Nadu authorities not taking to account these realities that their fishermen are facing a predicament of no livelihood and Sri Lanka cannot be blamed for this.
Would Indian fishermen be allowed to poach in territorial waters that belong to other nations just because the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister comes out with a list of reasons giving them right to?
The BJP Government is commended for taking a stand and appreciated for approving the measures taken by Sri Lanka in arresting and releasing the Indian fishermen but confiscating the boats. Tamil Nadu seem to have forgotten that it is the Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen whose livelihood was affected as a result of Tamil Nadu fishermen poaching on Sri Lankan waters. The TNA ever ready to find fault with the Sri Lankan Government has not come to the rescue of its own fishermen or brought up the grievance of the Sri Lankan fishermen denied livelihood and this speaks volumes of the sincerity of the TNA towards its own people too.
With the latest letter of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister directed at demanding the release of the boats, we can but wonder whether some of these may belong to her or her supporters!
When Tamil Nadu Chief Minister is aware that the Tamil Nadu fishermen are violating internationally demarcated waters and poaching while also using internationally banned bottom trawlers, it is unjustified to ask the Indian Prime Minister to take action against Sri Lanka. Obviously she is attempting to dent the popularity of the Indian Prime Minister while also disturb the amity that is being built between the two nations. Her actions are obviously aligned to the undiplomatic and unscrupulous policies followed by the Sonia-led Congress Government where the Central Government of India was virtually kept strangulated and on a noose by successive Tamil Nadu Governments.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister may learn sooner than later that Narendra Modi is not a puppet to dance to her tantrums or threats. She should not attempt to embarrass Mr. Modi by her unjustified outbursts. It will not look good on the new Indian Prime Minister if he were to demand that Indian fishermen be allowed to cross the IMBL into Sri Lankan waters is this the mischief that Jayalalitha is upto?
With the Modi mantra directed towards better and practical governance it is best that Tamil Nadu Chief Minister directs her attention at how to meet the livelihood challenges of Indian fishermen who have no fish to fish on Indian waters. Poaching is not the solution.