There are positive signals from Sri Lanka on finding an amicable and acceptable solution to the issue of Tamils, who are fighting for equal rights, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Saturday. Delivering the first convocation of the Kundrakudi Adigalar College of Education at Kundrakudi near here, he said with the end of an “unpleasant chapter” (end of the war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam by Sri Lankan forces) there were indications of settling the long-pending demands of the Tamils for a respectable and rightful life.
Recalling history, he said the Tamils, who were denied basic rights and faced several problems, took to arms and fought for a separate Eelam. This affected not only Sri Lanka but also India, which lost former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (in an assassination by the LTTE).
Mr. Chidambaram said nine governments had ruled India since 1984 and almost all parties, except the Communist Party of India (Marxist), were part of these regimes.
Though they had taken different stands on the Sri Lankan issue when they were not part of the government, their only stand when in power was that while respecting the integrity of Sri Lanka, the Tamils should get equal rights in all aspects, and autonomous states should be created, as in India, for sharing power. The Centre would strive to find a settlement on these lines.
Detailing the series of Memorandums of Understanding between India and Sri Lanka following the meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, he said India would construct 50,000 houses for the displaced Tamils and Rs.1,000 crore would be allotted for the purpose.
It had committed $800 million to Sri Lanka at simple interest for laying new railway lines and carrying out rehabilitation works. Construction of the Palaly airbase and Kankesandurai port were among the rehabilitation works to which India had committed.
Mr. Chidambaram said Mr. Rajapaksa had promised that 57,000 internally displaced Tamils, who were in camps, would be resettled within three to six months. Others had been sent to their respective homes.
K.R. Periakaruppan, Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments; the Kundrakudi Ponnambala Adigalar; N. Sundaram, MLA; S. Mohan, secretary; R.K. Sundararajan, principal, and others took part.