A multi-party delegation of parliamentarians left on Monday for a six-day visit to Sri Lanka for extensive interaction with internally displaced persons (IDPs), some of whom will be beneficiaries of an India-supported rehabilitation programme.
Contrary to the impression created by some parties that pulled out of the delegation that there will be little interaction with the Tamils affected during the closing stages of the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009, the parliamentarians will visit the last remaining transit camp for IDPs at Manik Farms. A day before, they will interact with a variety of Tamil opinion besides meeting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and leaders from the majority Sinhala community.
In Mullaitivu, once under the firm control of LTTE and where the tide turned amidst accusations of human rights abuses by the army as well as the LTTE, the delegation will hand over bicycles and preside over the opening of a refurbished general hospital. After spending a night in Jaffna, where the seeds of bitter distrust were sown with the burning down of the famous library in `83, the team will visit the Nallur temple, which was damaged and became practically unusable during the conflict.
“The primary focus of the delegation will, however, be in the areas recovering from 30 years of conflict in the North and East where development assistance projects for the resettlement and rehabilitation of IDPs and reconstruction of areas affected by the conflict are being undertaken by India,'' said the Ministry of External Affairs in a statement.
The parliamentarians will witness India's efforts to restore the Kankesanthurai harbour, once a major hub in the Jaffna peninsula, but rendered unusable after the LTTE sank 10 ships. Indian sailors have cleared the harbour of wrecks and made it operational.
The schedule also details interactions within the Tamil diaspora. The MPs, five of whom are from Tamil Nadu, will not only hold talks with leaders of the Tamil National Alliance, Sri Lankan Muslim Congress and Ceylon Workers' Congress but also meet people like Ananda Sangari.