Heart-warming to hear that Sri Lanka released fishermen, says BJP

New Delhi/Chennai, Nov. 18 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday termed the release of five fishermen on death row in Sri Lanka as 'heart-warming', adding that the action will help improve the ties between the two countries.

"The reports of the Tamil fishermen being released are extremely heart-warming. Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to the Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa some time ago. The government authorities and the Ministry of External Affairs have also offered to give all kinds of possible help to the fishermen," BJP spokesperson GVL Narsimha Rao told ANI.

"The credit for their release should go to the Central government. We have excellent relations with all our neighbours and I think this will further cement the ties between India and Sri Lanka and will lead to the easing of a lot issues that have affected the relations between the two countries," he added.

Meanwhile, former Congress strongman in Tamil Nadu GK Vasan expressed his sympathy over the plight of the fishermen.

"On one hand we are happy that the fishermen have been released, on the other hand it is very unfortunate that a false case was registered against them and they were arrested. They were innocent fishermen but had to be in a Sri Lankan jail for over three years and they have suffered there," Vasan told ANI.

"This kind of inhuman act by that nation's government is condemnable and I am sure that it won't be repeated," he added.

The Colombo High Court had on October 30th sentenced the five fishermen from Tamil Nadu - P Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath, and J Lanklet - to death on charges of smuggling 995 grams of heroin. They were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy for heroin trafficking in 2011.

The appeal filed against the Colombo High Court judgment was dismissed by a two-judge Appellate Court Bench comprising of Justices Vijith K. Malalgoda and A.H.M.D. Nawaz, after the counsel appearing for the five fishermen said they have decided to withdraw it. (ANI)