Snap ties with Colombo unless ceasefire announced: Karunanidhi (Lead, changing dateline)

April 17th, 2009 - 11:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai/New Delhi, April 17 (IANS) Within hours of the Indian government urging Sri Lanka to extend a limited ceasefire to enable trapped civilians to move to safer areas, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Friday said that India should sever all ties with the island nation if it does not announce an immediate ceasefire.
Thanking the Indian government for its statement that further civilian casualties in the ongoing military action would be unacceptable, Karunanidhi said in a statement Friday evening: “India should snap all ties with Sri Lanka, including diplomatic, if a ceasefire is not announced by the Sri Lankan government by tonight.”

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, urging Sri Lanka to extend the limited ceasefire, said: “Sri Lanka must extend this pause in hostilities to prevent further casualties and enable trapped civilians to leave the area to secure locations.”

“Continuation of precipitate military actions leading to further civilian casualties at this time would be totally unacceptable,” he added.

Mukherjee said that while it was incumbent on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to release all civilians under its control, Colombo “cannot be oblivious to the evolving human tragedy and the fate of the Tamil civilian population caught up in the so-called no-fire zone”.

“There is no reason not to continue with the pause in military actions in the no fire zone,” Mukherjee said.

“India is deeply concerned about the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka. The continuing conflict has taken a heavy toll on Tamil civilians and internally displaced persons caught in the crossfire.”

“India expects the government of Sri Lanka and others concerned to respond positively to this appeal in the interest of the Tamils who are citizens of Sri Lanka,” Mukherjee said.

Sri Lanka announced a 48-hour temporary ceasefire to mark the Tamil and Sinhala New Year this week to enable civilians to leave the conflict zone. It resumed its offensive against the LTTE Wednesday.

In his statement, Mukherjee also announced India’s decision to send another set of 40,000 family packs - commodities needed by families - to the civilians hit by the conflict in Sri Lanka.

New Delhi has sent medicines, food and other supplies to the civilian population in the conflict zone.

Tens of thousands of Tamil civilians - their number put at between 80,000 to about 250,000 - are trapped in a small area in Mullaitivu district where the LTTE leaders are believed to have taken refuge. Colombo says the guerrillas are using the civilians as a shield.

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