Vaiko accuses Indian Govt. of conniving with Sri Lanka over fishermen issue

Thursday, 13 November 2014 00:04 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Leader of a regional political party in Chennai on Wednesday (12 November) accused the federal government of conniving with Sri Lanka over the five Indian fishermen awarded the death sentence for being involved in a drug smuggling case. The Sri Lankan Government earlier in the day offered to pardon the fishermen on the condition that the Indian High Commission withdraws its appeal filed in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, challenging the High Court verdict. The General Secretary of the regional Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, V. Gopalsamy (Vaiko), however, condemned the step taken by the Indian Government. “It is a cunning, treacherous drama enacted by the killers of Tamil, Mahinda Rajapaksa. I am sure there will not be any hanging. But it is a ploy, it is a drama. The Indian Government made a request, therefore the President, such a mercy he has shown. This is a drama enacted by Rajapaksa with the connivance of the Indian Government. I accuse.” he said. The Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, on Monday, had obtained a copy of the judgment that gave death sentence to the fishermen. The embassy then approached best legal brains in Sri Lanka to appeal against the verdict. Meanwhile, spokesperson of opposition, Congress party, P.C.Chacko, called it a nice gesture shown by the Government of Sri Lanka. “Sri Lanka’s attitude towards Indian fishermen is one of very, very hostile. This happens very often. This time when five fishermen were sentenced to severe punishment, there was a very big revolt in Tamil Nadu and all over India. So it is good at least now the government of Sri Lanka has responded, Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has responded to the request of the people of India,” said Chacko. The leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Subramanian Swamy, said the Indian High Commission should not have approached the Sri Lankan Court. “Why should the High Commission go to the court in Sri Lanka? This whole country, the issue has risen particularly in Tamil Nadu that they have no faith in Sri Lankan court. The Sri Lankan court has found them guilty and given death sentence. We are saying no, it was not a fair trial. So why do we go to the same system, when there is an alternative way of doing it? Either you transfer them here, but now the President has gone one step forward. He says I am willing to pardon them,” said Swamy. Five Indian fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy in 2011 on charges of smuggling drugs and on 30 October, the Colombo High Court held the five fishermen guilty of drug trafficking. India shares an expansive oceanic border with Sri Lanka without any perceptible demarcation and fishermen on both sides ignore rules while netting their catch. Fishermen from both the countries frequently stray into each other’s territory and end up spending years in their jails. Sri Lanka says poaching and illegal fishing by Indian fishermen depletes the catches of its own fishermen and the arrests have caused friction.