Death penalty to fishermen in Lanka: Politicos appeal for Govt. intervention

New Delhi, Oct. 30 (ANI): The leaders of various political parties on Thursday took the Narendra Modi-led government to task after a Sri Lankan Court awarded death penalty to five Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu.

Expressing shock over the news, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader K. Padmanabhan urged the government to intervene immediately and ensure that the fishermen are released.

"It's shocking news; I think the Government of India should intervene immediately and see that these people are released. Whatever is required to be done by the government at the diplomatic, legal and various other levels, they should act, "said Padmanabhan.

He, however, appreciated the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) which earlier today said that it will pursue the legal process to try to prove that these fishermen are innocent and also ask the Indian High Commission in Colombo to appeal against this judgment at a higher court.

"If the MEA has said that they are going to intervene in this through legal provisions to the High Commission of India in Sri Lanka that is good, but that alone is not enough. This has to be seen as part of the dispute for fishing rights for a very long time. This has to be an intervention at multilateral levels through diplomatic channels, diplomacy, officials and through legal matters also. And within the time given by them, the appeal has to be filed. Before that also if the government can intervene and settle this it's necessary and has to be done," he added.

Meanwhile, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) Member of Parliament (MP) TKS Elangovan lashed out at the state government for not taking any steps to fight for the people and also criticized the Centre for being lethargic and careless in taking action.

"I don't know what the Government of India had been doing in all these cases. When somebody is convicted of an offence under Sri Lankan law, the Indian Government should have discussed this matter with the Sri Lankan Government and had found out what had happened and would have attempted to bring them back to India," said Elangovan.

"In past three years there is nobody from the state who had fought with the Government of India with regard to the fishermen's issue. The state government here had not taken any steps to fight for them because they are not bothered. But I don't know why the Government of India was so lethargic and careless in not taking proper action. Even now it is not too late I think. There are appeal provisions, the Government should take up the matter with the Sri Lankan Government and see that they are protected," he added.

According to reports, the Sri Lankan court has given time till November 14 to appeal against the decision in the country's Supreme Court.

Earlier in 2011, five Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy over charges of smuggling drugs.

The arrest of Indian fishermen straying into Lankan waters has long been a contentious issue with Tamil parties raising this on a regular basis. Some headway was made this year following the release of some from the island nation on the eve of the swearing-in ceremony of the new BJP-led NDA government assuming charge in Delhi. (ANI)