Special Correspondent

Urges New Delhi to exercise its influence on Colombo

SALEM: The State general council of the Communist Party of India (CPI) on Wednesday urged the Centre to exercise its `influence' on Sri Lanka for a political settlement of the ethnic conflict.

Expressing anguish over, the "staunch preference" of Sri Lanka for a military solution, the general council asked India to evolve a package that would ensure a political solution. Insisting that the LTTE and Sri Lanka should immediately cease hostilities and initiate negotiations, the meeting noted that a majority of Tamils in the island nation preferred a separate statehood. India should recognise their demand.

Advice to LTTE

The council asked the LTTE to realise that no solution could be achieved through violent acts. It should bring all Tamil people and other groups on one platform to find a peaceful settlement. The meeting asked Sri Lanka to refrain from launching military action against its citizens. CPI Tamil Nadu Secretary T. Pandian said the Indian Navy should protect fishermen from Sri Lankan attacks. "If necessary, the Centre should not show reluctance to retrieve the Katcha Theevu."