India trying to help Tamils in Sri Lanka: PM

May 9th, 2009 - 5:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chennai, May 9 (IANS) India is doing what it can to help the beleaguered Tamil community in Sri Lanka lead “a life of dignity and honour”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday.
The prime minister told journalists while on a campaign tour here that he was “deeply concerned over the very difficult situation in Sri Lanka” where thousands have died in a military onslaught aimed at crushing the Tamil Tigers.

“This has caused great concern to people everywhere. We are doing all we can to ensure that the Tamil people in Sri Lanka are assured a life of dignity, peace and honour in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Manmohan Singh said the Indian government’s topmost concern was to provide relief and succour to the mass of Tamil civilians displaced from the truncated war zone still held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

India also wanted the fighting to end, he said. “Our position in the past is that we would certainly want Tamil people to get (a settlement) where they can lead a life with dignity and respect.”

Manmohan Singh emphasised that any solution to the conflict in the island nation needed to be found “within a unified Sri Lanka”.

Without taking names, the prime minister ridiculed Tamil Nadu politicians who have threatened to send the Indian Army to Sri Lanka to carve out an independent Tamil state.

“What is possible and what is not possible is a matter of speculation,” he said. “We are dealing with a sovereign country. It is not easy to march armies to a sovereign state. There is a certain thing called international law. I think these are all known to all those who are making these tall promises.”

He denied that the Congress-led government had not shown enough interest over the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

He said he had been “deeply concerned” over the plight of the Tamil people during the last five years he has been the prime minister.

“At every opportunity I have had (to interact) with the president and prime minister of Sri Lanka… on every occasion I have raised this issue. The Tamil people have not had a fair deal, they have justified grievances.”

When it was pointed out to him that some in Tamil Nadu were glorifying the LTTE, which is outlawed in India, Manmohan Singh said: “As far as the government of India is concerned, the LTTE has so far been regarded as a terrorist organisation and that is the policy of the government of India.”

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