Sri Lankan Tamils must live dignified lives: Jayalalithaa

June 14th, 2011 - 3:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, June 14 (IANS) Tamils in Sri Lanka should be allowed to lead dignified lives and enjoy the same status as the majority Sinhalese community, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa said Tuesday.

The AIADMK leader also told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that she was opposed to the Indian government’s 1974 decision to cede to Sri Lanka the Katchatheevu island, located in the sea dividing the two countries.

In her first visit to the capital after the AIADMK stormed to power last month, she said she discussed at length the situation in Sri Lanka with Manmohan Singh and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon.

“I have stressed that what the Sri Lankan Tamils want and what we Tamilians want is to see that the Sri Lankan Tamils who are still in camps are allowed to return where they lived earlier.

“And they are allowed to lead lives of dignity with equal rights on par with the Sinhalese.”

Jayalalithaa said she had gone to the Supreme Court challenging the Indian decision to cede Katchatheevu to Sri Lanka without the concurrence of the Indian parliament.

She said she told the prime minister that Tamil Nadu fishermen who sailed to the island were harassed and tortured by Sri Lankan security forces.

“The PM said he has impressed upon Sri Lanka that such ill treatment should stop. And all efforts will be allowed to see that our fishermen are allowed to fish around Katchatheevu.”

Under a 1974 pact, Indian fishermen have rights in the waters around Katchatheevu. But fishermen from Tamil Nadu say they are never allowed to do this by Sri Lankan security personnel, particularly the navy.

The chief minister said a delegation of Tamil Nadu legislators should be permitted to visit Sri Lanka to see for themselves the condition of Tamils still in refugee camps after the end of the war in 2009.

But the AIADMK leader said she could only play “a very limited role” in issues that primarily concern the governments of India and Sri Lanka.

On June 8, the AIADMK-dominated Tamil Nadu assembly passed a resolution seeking economic sanctions against Colombo on issues concerning the Tamil community, including alleged war crimes.

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