Political parties in Tamil Nadu including NDA constituents today protested the death penalty awarded by a Sri Lankan court to five Indian fishermen for alleged drug trafficking, and sought the Centre's intervention to save them.
DMK spokesperson T K S Elangovan said the Centre should have intervened at an earlier stage to protect the five fishermen and said the government should at least now take steps and ensure that fishermen from the state were set free.
The matter will be discussed with DMK chief M Karunanidhi to see 'what can be done,' he added.
BJP state unit President Tamizhisai Sounderrajan expressed 'regret' over the five being sentenced to death and said it was 'very clear' that the case against them was 'contrary to truth.'
"We are working on how to help them but right now we have informed the Centre of the situation and both the Union Government and the BJP's state unit will help them by all means," she said.
Her party's allies-- PMK and MDMK-- also protested the verdict, with the former saying it amounted to challenging India.
"Arresting Indian fishermen and going to extent of awarding them death sentence amounts to challenging India. If some other countries equally powerful like India had faced similar situation, they would have taken action against Sri Lanka," PMK founder S Ramadoss said.
He said Colombo had promised that the five persons will be released alongwith the others to mark Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa's participation in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony but did not keep up its word.
India treating Sri Lanka as a friendly nation had 'emboldened' the latter to commit such an act, he said.
MDMK founder Vaiko said the fishermen were arrested for allegedly transgressing into Sri Lankan waters for fishing but the drug trafficking case was later 'foisted' against them.
He called for Centre's immediate intervention in this matter and ensure that the fishermen were saved.
CPI (M) state unit secretary G Ramakrishnan, Congress leaders G K Vasan and B S Gnanadesikan and VCK leader Thol.Thirumavalavan also made similar pleas.
Lankan High Court judge Preethi Padman Surasena passed judgement on the five Indians and three from the island nation for 'involvement' in heroin trafficking between the two countries, with India saying it will appeal in a higher court against the judgement.