Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has decided to appoint a “committee” to study the root cause of the ethnic conflict, lessons learnt since sections of Tamils took to militancy to gain their rights in the mid-seventies and challenges faced since the military defeat of the LTTE in May last year, said Minister of Disaster Management and Human Rights Mahinda Samarasinghe here on Friday.

Asked if the committee would cover the circumstances leading to the deployment of the IPKF and the 1989 Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) second insurgency, the Minister said: “Yes, it would be a comprehensive study covering all aspects.”

The announcement on the committee coincided with the controversy over the decision of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to appoint a panel of experts to advise him on Sri Lanka and the vociferous objections raised by Colombo to the proposal. In the course of a telephone conversation with Mr. Ban, Mr. Rajapaksa termed the move uncalled for and unwarranted.

Mr. Samarasinghe pointed out that the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) comprising 124 member states had condemned Mr. Ban's move.

Since the defeat of the LTTE, the government has been countering demands for a commission to investigate alleged human rights violations in the 34-month long Eelam War IV and repeatedly pointed to the resolution by the Human Rights Commission lauding Sri Lanka on the issue.

Chair of the Coordinating Bureau of the Non-Aligned Movement, Ambassador and Permanent Representative Maged A. Abdelaziz in his letter to Mr. Ban said: “The Non-Aligned Movement strongly condemns selective targeting of individual countries which it deems contrary to the Founding Principles of the Movement and the United Nations Charter.”

Rail link

The government on Saturday said it had initiated a programme for rapid restoration of damaged rail links in the war ravaged northern province and it would not be long before the rail links between the north and the rest of the island nation were fully restored.

India is engaged in big way in helping in the task. An official statement said here that the railway track from Vavuniya to Thandikulam had already been renovated and the Yaldevi train travelled from Colombo to Thandikulam at present.

As the second step of this programme, all the necessary arrangements hade been made to lay tracks on a ten-km stretch from Thandikulam to Omanthai and the Army had been assigned with the task of de-mining.

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