Prime Minister agrees to consider sending MPs’ delegation to assess situation
Delegation also meets Sonia Gandhi
Some delay in “de-mining” erstwhile LTTE areas
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was on Tuesday stated to have assured a delegation of Congress and DMK MPs from Tamil Nadu that he would do his best for the early rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils who were affected during the anti-LTTE operations by the Sri Lanka army, by taking up the issue with the island government.He also promised to consider a request made by the MPs to send a delegation of Tamil Nadu MPs to Sri Lanka to see the actual conditions of the displaced Tamils and check out the distribution of relief materials sent from India.
They also sought an end to harassment of and firing at Tamil Nadu fishermen by Sri Lankan naval personnel on the high seas.
UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi too assured the delegation that she would discuss the issue with Dr. Singh.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.V. Thangkabalu, who led the delegation, told The Hindu here on Tuesday, that when the delegates pointed out that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government was not honouring its commitment to rehabilitate the affected Tamils at the earliest, Dr. Singh told them that there was some delay in “de-mining” (removing land mines and booby traps) the areas that were being controlled by the LTTE. Indian experts were assisting the Sri Lankan officials in this.
Mr. Thangkabalu termed the meeting “positive” and hoped that the Centre would immediately take steps to ensure the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils and protect the fishing rights of Tamil Nadu fishermen. In a memorandum submitted to Dr. Singh and Ms. Gandhi, the members referred to the “plight of over 2.6 lakh Tamils” in the island and said: “We cannot completely close our eyes and shy away from projecting the gross human rights violations and the gruelling experience being undergone by the displaced Tamil civilians.”
They wanted the leaders to hasten India’s attempts to get back the Katchatheevu and the adjacent seas at least on “lease in perpetuity” basis, so as to enable Indian fishermen to go fishing without harassment. Union Ministers and Tamil Nadu MPs P. Chidambaram, G.K. Vasan, Dayanidhi Maran, A. Raja, DMK MP Kanimozhi and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi MP Thol. Thirumavalavan took part.