Chennai: “On behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu, I strongly condemn the unjust conviction meted out to the five Indian fishermen, Emerson, Agastas, Wilson, Prasath and Langlet from Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu,” said Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam in a letter to PM Modi on Thursday.
Recalling that his party supremo J. Jayalalithaa had written numerous times to the Centre regarding this case, Panneerselvam said that based on Tamil Nadu government’s insistence, the ministry of external affairs and the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka had taken up this issue with the Sri Lankan authorities and consistently argued that these were bona fide fishermen with no record of involvement in drug related activities.
In these circumstances, the conviction of these fishermen and the award of death penalty to them was particularly shocking and gave rise to serious doubts whether the fishermen had received a fair trial. The letter asked the PM to direct the Indian High Commission to set in motion the legal procedure for appeal within the statutory period in the appellate forum.
Meanwhile, all the political parties in the state on Thursday registered their strong protest to a Lankan court’s award of the death penalty to five Indian fishermen for drug trafficking.
DMK spokesperson T.K.S Elangovan said that the Centre should take steps to free them and their party chief M. Karunanidhi would see what could be done.
State BJP president Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan said that it was clear that the sentencing of the fishermen was ‘contrary to truth’ and that the Union government and state unit would help them.
PMK founder Dr S. Ramadoss said, “Awarding Indian fishermen the death sentence amounts to challenging India. If other countries, as powerful as India, had faced a similar situation, they would have taken action against Lanka.”
Colombo, he said, had said that they would release them with the others to mark Lankan President Rajapaksa’s participation in PM Modi’s swearing-in ceremony, but had not kept its word. “Lanka is emboldened to commit such an act as India treated the island nation as a ‘friendly copuntry’.”
MDMK chief Vaiko said the fishermen were arrested for allegedly transgressing into Sri Lankan waters and the Lankan officials ‘foisted’ the drug trafficking case on them.
DMDK founder Vijayakanth urged PM Modi to take up the issue through diplomatic means. State CPI(M) secretary G. Ramakrishnan, Congress leaders Vasan and Gnanadesikan and VCK leader Thirumavalavan also made similar pleas urging the Centre to take action.
Collector Nandakumar, DRO Viswanathan, SP Mayilvahanan and AIADMK MP Anwar Raja held talks with the agitators to withdraw their stir but their efforts proved futile.
The agitations continued in to the night with the fishers blocking the highway. Tension has gripped the coastal district and security has been beefed up. The fishermen said their five colleagues were implicated in a case of drug trafficking by Sri Lankan court.
Tags: current affairs
Location: Tamil Nadu