China looking for toehold in Tamil areas in Lanka: Natchiappan

Union Minister of State for Industries and Commerce E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan defended India’s abstention on the U.S.-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), arguing that it was aimed at neutralising the influence of China, which, he said, was looking for a toehold in this part of the world.

“Today, only India is involved in the resettlement and rehabilitation of Tamils in the war-torn North and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. If India had voted against Sri Lanka, it would have provided an opportunity to China, which is involved in infrastructure development in the country, to step into Tamil areas,” Mr. Natchiappan told The Hindu.

India had voted in the last two years in favour of resolutions in the UNHRC aimed at pressuring Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes, but abstained in the current year’s latest vote a few days ago.

Foreign Secretary explains

In Delhi, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh explained the rationale behind India’s abstention. She said it was consistent with India’s aim of expediting the process of reconciliation in a manner that substantially met the aspirations of the Tamil community for a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

“We believe our decision to abstain from the U.N. resolution will strengthen our hand in achieving our objective vis-à-vis the Tamil community in Sri Lanka,” she said.

The international community needed to work with the island nation to ensure justice and peace.

Further, India’s stand would help resolve the problems of fishermen from Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, she said.

Ms. Singh added that India expected Sri Lanka to make progress in areas such as withdrawal of security forces from civilian areas in the Northern Province, reduction of high security zones and return of land held by the military to their owners.

According to Mr. Natchiappan, the resolution moved this time in the UNHRC was different from the ones adopted in 2012 and 2013 in the sense that it called for an independent inquiry into the alleged human rights violations under the supervision of the UNHRC. “A probe by an international body is against the sovereignty of a country, where there is a democratically elected government. If we allow this, a similar demand could be raised against India too tomorrow,” he said.

The Minister alleged that leaders of the Tamil National Alliance were under the influence of the diaspora, which, in turn, was controlled by the remnants of the LTTE.

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