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Protests erupt in Tamil Nadu after Sri Lankan court gives death sentence to five Indian fishermen

Oct 31, 2014 11:50 AM IST India India

Chennai: Protests erupted in Tamil Nadu on Friday after five Indian fishermen from the state were given death sentence by a Sri Lankan court in alleged drugs smuggling case.

Meanwhile, fishermen in Rameshwaram have withdrawn their protest after assurance from state government which said that it will appeal in Sri Lanka apex court against the capital punishment.

Pro-Tamil protesters have been taken into preventive custody for protesting outside the Sri Lankan High Commission in Chennai against the death penalty.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Paneerselvam wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the government to ensure the release of five fishermen.

DMK chief M Karunanidhi said, "The Centre should get in touch with Sri Lankan government and pave way for the release of five Indian fishermen sentenced to death."

The fishermen have time till November 14 to file an appeal in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court.

The five fishermen were apprehended in 2011 by the Sri Lankan Navy on charges of smuggling of drugs, official sources said. The five Indians are among a group of eight people sentenced to death by the high court in Colombo. They had been arrested on a boat in the seas off northern Jaffna's Delft islet.

Reacting to the order, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, "We will take up this matter. Judgment is passed by the lower court. We will challenge this case in the upper court."

The Indian government has been pursuing their case for the last four years and maintains that it has done due diligence and found them to be innocent. The MEA spokesperson also said that India has been pursuing the case at both levels - legal and official - and will continue doing so.