Internally-displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka should be settled again in their original places, R. Sampanthan, leader of the parliamentary group of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka, said on Tuesday.

"This is the most important demand now in the absence of a political settlement," Mr Sampanthan told reporters after calling on Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence along with four other TNA Members of Parliament.

He was responding to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s observation on the need for finding a political settlement for the Sri Lankan Tamil question.

Welcoming the Chief Minister’s suggestion of sending a special envoy to Sri Lanka for studying the situation in the affected areas, the TNA leader said that if this suggestion fructified, a way could be found for the resolution of the Tamil question. He recalled that when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister [during 1980-1984], Mr Karunanidhi had made a similar suggestion.

Describing the meeting as satisfactory, the TNA leader said the Chief Minister had assured the delegation of all possible help. While a political settlement had to be arrived at [as a long term measure], basic amenities had to be provided now to internally-displaced Tamils.

He complained that the work of building homes for the Tamils was going at a slow pace. The Sri Lankan government had not made constructive efforts to find the political settlement. Thanking the Union government for providing financial assistance for rehabilitation of the Tamils, Mr Sampanthan said such measures had not been undertaken in many areas. Though a year had lapsed [since the end of the war], the displaced people were yet to lead their normal life.

He also called for an end to the attacks on fishermen of Tamil Nadu. M.S. Senathirasa, Selvam Adaikkalanathan, M.A. Sumanthiran and Suresh K. Premachandran of the TNA participated in the meeting, which lasted over an hour.