Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Saturday met United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and sought her help in ensuring the rehabilitation of internally-displaced Tamils lodged in camps in Sri Lanka.
“Inasmuch as the hapless Sri Lankan Tamils continue to suffer in the camps for the last 18 months, there must be some firm political commitment to end the sufferings of these people,” he stated in a memorandum submitted to her at the Chennai airport.
Ms. Gandhi, who reached Chennai around 2.15 p.m., was with Mr. Karunanidhi for about 15 minutes. Talking to reporters later, Mr. Karunanidhi said that during the meeting, he briefed Ms. Gandhi about the condition of the Tamils. She had promised to look into the matter and take action.
Asked whether the alliance issue was discussed, Mr. Karunanidhi quipped: “As the alliance [between the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Congress] is in a good position, where is the need for discussing it now?”
In the memorandum, the Chief Minister said External Affairs Secretary Nirupama Rao visited Sri Lanka a couple of months ago and the State government received feedback about the visit from her letter to the Chief Secretary. One of the key issues that continued to cause concern to him and the people of Tamil Nadu was the presence of about 30,000 people in the camps even at the time of Ms. Rao's visit.
If the Tamils in the camps were rehabilitated and allowed to return to their own places, they would be able to lead a normal life. “The Government of Sri Lanka has to be urged effectively to rehabilitate the Sri Lankan Tamils in the camps early.”