India did not supply offensive equipment to Sri Lanka: Chidambaram

April 28th, 2009 - 10:33 pm ICT by IANS  

P. Chidambaram New Delhi, April 28 (IANS) India has not provided any help to the Sri Lankan Army that could assist them in the military operations against the Tamil Tigers in the island nation, Home Minister P. Chidambaram said Tuesday.
“No help has been given to Sri Lankan Army that can help in offensive operations,” Chidambaram said in an interview to the news channel NDTV.

He asserted that the bulk of equipment Sri Lanka had received had come from Pakistan and China.

“Some time ago, we gave them some defensive radar equipment that would detect hostile aircraft. But then, much of the equipment that Sri Lanka has got, in fact the bulk of the equipment that Sri Lanka has got, has come from Pakistan and China,” said the home minister.

Terming media reports on this issue as exaggerated, Chidambaram said India has no intention of giving any equipment to Sri Lanka that can be used for offensive purposes.

“That’s been the policy of successive Indian governments in which every Tamil party was a member at some time or other - the AIADMK, the DMK, the PMK, the MDMK and how can they pretend that they don’t know what has been happening over the past several years?” Chidambaram asked.

“Every one of them was a member of one or other government between 1998 and 2008,” the home minister pointed out.

Asked if India is concerned about the fate of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief V. Prabhakaran and what sort of backlash his possible killing may provoke, Chidambaram said: “We don’t wish Prabhakaran ill.”

“There are still about 15,000 to 20,000 people (in the conflict zone), among them perhaps there is Prabhakaran, there are some other LTTE leaders. Now we don’t wish them ill,” he said.

The home minister appealed to the Tiger leader to lay down arms or offer to lay down arms and come forward to the negotiating table.

“If they do so, there’s no reason to believe that their lives will be in danger,” he said.

Chidambaram also said the question regarding India’s demand for Prabhakaran’s arrest and extradition does not arise at this stage.

“If Prabhakaran lays down arms, then we’ll have to work out the modalities by which the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE can talk,” he said.

“I don’t think extradition is the immediate issue. The immediate issue is that following the stoppage of combat operations, we must, somehow, restart the peace process, restart the negotiating process. That’s all I can say now.”

The home minister also pointed out that India’s diplomatic efforts along with international pressure had paid off and the Sri Lankan government had ceased its combat operations.

Monday’s announcement to halt combat operations came days after National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon visited Colombo and met President Mahinda Rajapaksa to impress upon him the need for halting military operations to avoid civilian casualties.

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