India non-committal on ‘war crimes’, studying ’sentiments’(Lead)

March 14th, 2012 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) Cautious on the US-backed resolution on “war crimes” in Sri Lanka, India Wednesday said it will weigh in sentiments in parliament and stressed the need for “a forward looking outcome” that avoids “mistrust and confrontation.”

“I would like to highlight that on such sensitive issues we will need to consider the implications of our actions carefully. Any assertions on our part may have implications on our historically friendly relations with a neighbouring country,” Krishna said in the Rajya Sabha.

“We would also need to examine whether our actions will actually assist in the process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and enhance the current dialogue between the government of Sri Lanka and Tamil parties, including the Tamil National Alliance,” he said in a statement.

Commenting on the draft resolution on Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council, Krishna said: “We are engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve a forward looking outcome that is based on reconciliation and accountability rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between the concerned parties.”

In a letter to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had expressed a similar opinion. But Jayalalithaa has said she was unhappy with Manmohan Singh’s views.

“I may mention that the issue of human rights allegations against Sri Lanka is yet to come up for formal discussion at the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva,” said Krishna.

“A view on this issue will be taken as and when the time is finalised for consideration of the draft resolution.”

Responding to queries, Krishna said India was closely monitoring the developments and will take a view after studying the sentiments expressed in the house.

Alluding to initiatives taken by Colombo to address the issue of alleged human rights violations, Krishna said India has emphasised to Colombo the importance of “a genuine process of reconciliation to address the grievances of the Tamil community”.

However, he cautioned against taking a stand that could be seen as interference by Sri Lanka. Meddling in affairs of another country is not part of India’s foreign policy, said Krishna.

Krishna’s statement came a day after allegations of “war crimes” sparked uproar in parliament, with DMK and AIADMK asking the Indian government to vote against Sri Lanka on the resolution.

Many MPs were particularly after learning from leaked video footage that Tamil Tigers chief Velupillai Prabhakaran’s 12-year-old son was shot dead by the Sri Lankan military in May 2009.

In Chennai, Jayalalithaa Wednesday said her party was not satisfied with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s reply on this issue.

“I had written two letters to the prime minister saying India should support the resolution by America against Sri Lanka. I am not satisfied with the prime minister’s reply,” she told reporters.

“There was no commitment in the letter sent by the prime minister.”

In a bid to pacify the Tamil parties, Krishna said the government fully shared their sentiments and narrated the initiatives taken by the Indian government to spur the rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils following the end of the civil war in 2009.

“Since the end of conflict, the focus of government of India has been on the welfare and well-being of the Tamil in Sri Lanka. Their resettlement and rehabilitation have been of the highest and most immediate priority.

“It is mainly as a result of our constructive engagement with the government of Sri Lanka and our considerable assistance programme that a modicum of normalcy is beginning to return to the Tamil areas,” he said.

Krishna stressed that it was the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government “to investigate and inquire into them through a transparent process”.

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