Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Tuesday accused the Sri Lankan government of seeking to “exterminate” Tamils in the island nation and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to initiate efforts with other countries for imposing economic sanctions against Colombo until Tamils in that country were resettled and allowed to live with dignity and with equal constitutional rights as the Sinhalese.

“Though Sri Lanka became independent, the Tamils living in that country were struggling for many years against the injustice of being treated as second class citizens. Instead of appreciating the justness of their demand and ensuring that Tamils in Sri Lanka lead a life of dignity with equal rights and self-respect through necessary constitutional amendments, the Sri Lanka government was taking all possible action to exterminate them,” she said in a memorandum submitted to the Prime Minister.

Meeting Dr. Singh for the first time after assuming office, Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Centre should impress upon the Sri Lankan government need to enable the Tamils to participate fully in the governance in the North and the East. “Political reforms should be urgently introduced with further possible delineation of powers to the Provinces by transferring some of the items from the Concurrent to the Provincial List as per the aspirations of the people, especially the Sri Lankan Tamil community.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa urged the Prime Minister to send a delegation of MLAs from Tamil Nadu to visit the refugee camps in Sri Lanka to see for themselves the conditions there and to get the correct figure. “According to Sri Lankan government, there are only about 10,000 Tamils in the [refugee] camps. But other reports speak of higher numbers,” she said.

Katchatheevu issue

Ms. Jayalalithaa also urged Dr. Singh to make efforts to “retrieve” Katchatheevu and the sea adjacent to it and restore the traditional fishing rights of the fishermen from Tamil Nadu. She stressed that a large number of evidences, including lease deeds proved that Katchatheevu was part of India geographically, culturally and historically. The “ceding” of the island to Sri Lanka without a constitutional amendment approved by both Houses of Parliament was “contrary to law.”

She pointed out that despite there being a precedent of the Supreme Court declaring null and void the ceding of Berubari in Bengal to the then East Pakistan since the procedure was not followed, Mr. Karunanidhi, who was the Chief Minister in 1974 when Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka, did not approach the Supreme Court. In 2008, she filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court for retrieval of Katchatheevu and it was still pending. The Tamil Nadu government would implead itself in this petition.

Attacks on fishermen

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the alleged attack on Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy figured to a “great extent” during her talks with the Prime Minister. Dr. Singh told her that India had impressed upon Sri Lanka that attacks on fishermen from Tamil Nadu should stop and they should be allowed to catch fish. She said National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who met the top Sri Lankan leadership over the weekend, was also present.

For fiscal consolidation, the State urged the Centre to extend a special financial assistance of Rs.1 lakh crore as grant to reduce the debt level, besides financial support for the schemes implemented by the State. It was pointed out that the revenue deficit was increasing over the years owing to increasing commitments on salary, pension and other welfare schemes. As a result, within the last five years, the outstanding debt of the State had almost doubled from Rs. 57,475 crore in 2005-06 to Rs. 1,01,541 crore in 2010-11.

Since the 13{+t}{+h} Finance Commission had stipulated norms for achieving zero revenue deficit and a fiscal deficit of less than 3 per cent by the end of the current financial year, such a huge investment was very much required to restore the State on the path of sustainable economic development with inclusive growth.

More In: National | News