Colombo/New Delhi: India's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka on Tuesday met the five Indian fishermen, who have been sentenced to death by a court here for alleged drug trafficking, and assured them of "unstinted support" by the government to secure their early release and repatriation.
Indian envoy Yash Sinha, who visited Welikada Prison in Colombo this morning, met the five fishermen at the Superintendent's office where he handed over some clothes and toiletries and enquired about their welfare, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in New Delhi.
"He (Sinha) assured them of unstinted support and cooperation of government of India in ensuring that their case receives the utmost attention. He also assured them that the government will make all efforts to secure their early release and repatriation to India," he said.
The five Indian fishermen - Emerson, P Augustus, R Wilson, K Prasath and J Langlet, all hailing from Tamil Nadu, were apprehended in 2011 and were sentenced to death by the Colombo High Court on October 30, 2014, for alleged drug trafficking.
The court ruling had triggered fiery protests in parts of Tamil Nadu and sporadic violence broke out in and around Rameswaram island as a large number of people staged protests against the Sri Lankan court's verdict.
India is pursuing the case at legal as well as official levels with the Sri Lankan government.
"The fishermen appeared in good health and requested for permission to write to their relatives in Tamil Nadu and also to make telephone calls. The prison authorities readily agreed and stated that they would arrange for telephone calls to be made by the prisoners to their relatives in a couple of days. Meanwhile, they were free to write letters to their relatives," the spokesperson added.
The fishermen expressed their happiness at the High Commissioner personally coming to meet them and thanked him for this gesture, he further said.
The issue of fishermen is a very emotive matter for both Sri Lanka and India, where Tamil Nadu-based parties including AIADMK and DMK have been regularly pressing New Delhi to take up the matter with the Lankan authorities seriously and have often resented high-profile visits from the island nation.