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Indian Government on Monday said it has accorded “very high priority” to bring back five Indian fishermen on death row from Sri Lanka and every possible avenue is being explored to ensure their safe return.

Terming it as a “delicate” matter, Indian External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the government will do everything possible to bring home the fishermen.

“We are pursuing all avenues. We are pursuing it to best of our ability and we have not reached a situation or a stage where we could say that it has reached a happy conclusion,” he told reporters.

Asked about reports of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday on the issue, the spokesperson evaded the question, citing sensitivity of the issue.

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 for alleged drug trafficking.

“We will do everything possible to ensure return of those five Indian fishermen in accordance with Sri Lanka’s legal and executive process.

“It is a matter on which we place very high priority. It is also a matter on which we are exploring a variety of avenues to ensure that those citizens of India return to India safely. These avenues are being pursued in accordance with the Sri Lanka’s legal system and Sri Lanka’s executive role in the process,” the Spokesperson said. - indianexpress