Chennai: In a significant development, the Sri Lankan government on Monday agreed to transfer five Tamil Nadu-based fishermen, who were sentenced to death by its local court on drug trafficking charges, to an Indian jail soon.
The Sri Lankan government agreed to transfer all the five convicts to Indian jail after Prime Minister Narendra Modi intervened in the matter and spoke to the Island nation's President Mahinda Rajapaksa, senior BJP leader Subramanian Swamy informed reporters today.
“The breakthrough happened after Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped in and spoke to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa,” Swamy tweeted this morning.
"Namo and Rajapaksa spoke on the phone yesterday&agreed to process papers & transfer 5 fishermen convicted to Indian jail. I am vindicated!," the tweet read.
Namo and Rajapaksa spoke on the phone yesterday&agreed to process papers & transfer 5 fishermen convicted to Indian jail. I am vindicated!
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) November 10, 2014
"Prime Minister Modi has spoken to President Rajpaksa yesterday.. details and outcome of the conversation are not clear yet. Sri Lanka and India have very good relations, we respect each others concern. We are sure every problem can be sorted out through discussion," Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of External Affairs Neomal Perera was quoted as saying to a TV news channel.
The case dates back to 2011 when the five fishermen set out to fish from Rameswaram and were apprehended by the Sri Lankan Navy on the charge of possessing narcotics.
On October 30, the Colombo High Court sentenced to death the five fishermen on charges of allegedly smuggling heroin into Sri Lanka.
India, however, categorically said that the five are innocent and added that an appeal will be filed in the top court in the island nation.
Fishermen in the state have been agitating against the Lankan court verdict while political parties too have sought steps to secure the release of the five.
In August 2012, then Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had ordered disbursal of monthly assistance of Rs 7,500 to the families of each of the five fishermen. Besides, she had also sanctioned Rs two lakh (one-time) assistance to each of the five families.