India wants political process revived in Sri Lanka (Second Lead)

December 4th, 2009 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party New Delhi, Dec 4 (IANS) India Friday said it wanted a revival of the peace process in Sri Lanka and has been assured by Colombo that all Tamil civilians displaced by the two-decade-long civil war would be re-settled by end of January 2010.
Cutting across party lines, members of the Rajya Sabha expressed concern over the situation in the island nation’s north and urged the Indian government to do more. The government will respond Monday to the concerns expressed by the MPs.

“The government is keen to see the revival of political process in Sri Lanka which will meet the legitimate interests and aspirations of all communities, including Tamils and Muslims, within the framework of a united Sri Lanka,” External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in a statement in the upper house.

“Revival of such political process and an inclusive dialogue would help bring the minority communities into the political mainstream,” he added.

In making the suo moto statement, the government avoided the calling attention motion that some MPs from the southern states had submitted.

Krishna also said India has continued to emphasise to the Sri Lankan government “to put forward a meaningful devolution package that could go beyond 13th amendment. We will remain engaged with them through this process of transition and reform”.

Out of the 300,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in camps, more than half have been re-settled, while about 145,000 still remain in the camps. The travel restrictions on those living in the camps have also been relaxed, Krishna said.

“We have been assured that by end-January 2010, all IDPs would be re-settled. We continue to work with the Sri Lankan government to ensure the resettlement of all,” he said.

India has set aside Rs.500 crore for the rehabilitation of the IDPs and welfare of people in northern Sri Lanka.

Not satisfied with the statement, member after member, mainly from the opposition, sounded high criticism of the manner in which the government had handled the situation in the wake of the Tamil Tigers’ defeat in May.

M. Venkiah Naidu of the Bharatiya Janata Party led the charge, saying: “One can win the war but lose the peace. Don’t think the issue is over. There is need to expedite a solution or the issue will re-surface and have disastrous consequences.”

Pointing out that the Sri Lankan government had not moved “an inch forward” on the devolution of powers to Sri Lankan Tamils, he said a parliamentary delegation should be sent to Sri Lanka to study the situation on the ground.

K. Malaisamy of the AIADMK had serious objections to the Tamil Nadu government’s intention to resettle some of the displaced Sri Lankan civilians in the state. This, he said, would be playing into the hands of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who intended to “clear” the island nation of Tamils.

He also said the Indian high commission (in Colombo) was “not giving a correct picture of the ground. For instance, in one area where the Tamil population was once 3/4ths, it is now down to 1/4th,” he contended, adding, “There is a lot more you (the government) can do. You can arm-twist Sri Lanka into doing more for the Tamils.”

D. Raja (Communist Party of India) urged the reworking of the Kachchathivu agreement and greater access for Indian fishermen around Sri Lanka.

As the MPs speeches cut into the hour-long lunch recess, P.J. Kurien, who was presiding, pointed out that Krishna was required to be in the Lok Sabha at 2 p.m. and there were only 15 minutes left.

Krishna then got up to say that he could either reply in detail Monday or “give a minute’s reply now”. It was then decided that the minister would reply on Monday.

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