Replying to a discussion on a special resolution moved by her in the State Assembly on Wednesday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa blamed the Centre for extending military help to the Sri Lankan government by training its personnel and giving radars and weapons.
“There were media reports that senior Indian army officers visited Sri Lanka. As the then Chief Minister (DMK president), Mr. Karunanidhi would have been aware of all this,” she said.
The Chief Minister, who briefly recounted the history of the Sri Lankan Tamils' struggle, referred to the armed movement acquiring a “terrorist” dimension, as a result of which a suicide bomber belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
She recalled that her government had persuaded the Centre to ban the LTTE in 1992 and that in 2002, she had got a resolution passed in the Assembly demanding that its leader V. Prabakaran, be apprehended and handed over to India.
However, after Mr. Rajapaksa became president of Sri Lanka late in 2005, the government unleashed a repressive campaign against the Tamils in the name of establishing peace, she said. Towards the end of 2008 and early 2009, Sri Lankan forces intensified their military campaign.
“I appealed to the DMK, a constituent of the Union government, to put pressure on the Centre to take steps to prevail on Sri Lanka to announce a ceasefire. I wanted the DMK to withdraw its support to the Centre if it did not heed its appeal, but Mr. Karunanidhi did not do so.”
On the contrary, he staged one drama after another in the name of all-party meetings, meetings of legislature party leaders, human chain demonstration, Assembly resolution, telegrams to the Prime Minister, resignation by MPs, and a “final warning”, Ms. Jayalalithaa said. “The climax was the farce he enacted in the name of a hunger strike to demand a ceasefire. He ended his fast around noon after declaring that the military operations against the LTTE were over. Believing his words, lakhs of Tamil civilians came out of their bunkers thinking that the operations were over. However, the Sri Lankan military relentlessly and mercilessly bombed the civilians,” she said.
A.Soundararajan (CPI-M) wanted the demand for economic sanctions be dropped, as past experience had shown that such sanctions did not have any impact on rulers, but adversely affected civilians, especially women and children.
However, the Chief Minister did not agree. “Economic sanctions are only a temporary measure. There is no other way to make the Sri Lankan government see reason. It has always ignored calls for equal treatment to Tamils,” she said.
Durai Murugan (DMK) said political parties might have had a thousand differences among themselves and adopted different approaches to the Sri Lankan Tamil problem, but this was not the time to highlight them. Following the UN report, the whole world was aware of the issue. Supporting the call for economic sanctions, he said, “Whatever action the Centre takes now, the world will support it.” N.R. Rangarajan (Congress) backed the resolution, but disagreed with criticism of the Congress voiced by some other members. The Congress-led government had taken several steps to mitigate the sufferings of the Tamils and Rajiv Gandhi had given up his life for their cause, he said.
Leader of the Opposition Vijayakant alleged that the DMK had been betraying Tamils since 1972. His remarks upset DMK members, who were on their feet in protest.
Mr. Durai Murugan wanted the chair to allow him to rebut Mr. Vijayakant's submission, but Speaker D. Jayakumar did not relent. All DMK members walked in protest against.