‘Prabhakaran’s extradition call shows India’s stand on LTTE’

January 7th, 2009 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Jan 7 (IANS) Sri Lanka has said that neighbouring India “clearly demonstrated” its stand on the island’s war against the Tamil Tiger rebels in the north, by calling for the extradition of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, if captured alive.The state-run Daily News said that general secretary of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and Minister of Agriculture Development Maithiripala Sirisena made these remarks Tuesday, pointing out that the call for Prabhakaran’s extradition was made by India’s ruling Congress party, especially after the fall of Kilinochchi.

“The government has already drawn up plans to hold local government and provincial council elections in the North after the conclusion of the humanitarian operations,” Minister Sirisena has been quoted as saying.

After months of fierce clashes, Sri Lankan ground troops last week dealt a major blow to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) by capturing its politico-administrative nerve centre Kilinochchi well after a decade.

Encouraged by their latest success, the troops backed by armour, artillery and aerial bombardment forced their way into the strategically important Oddusuddan township, lying ahead of Mullaitivu town and secured control of a large chunk of the A-34 Mankulam-Mullaitivu main highway up to Thanniyuttu.

The military commanders have vowed to continue their current thrust against the rebels “until they hunt down Prabhakaran in the Mullaitivu jungles”, where the rebels maintain their last bastion.

On hearing of the developments in Sri Lanka, Congress party spokesman Veerappa Moily had demanded that Sri Lanka extradite the LTTE chief if he is nabbed during the Sri Lankan military offensive, to be tried for his links with the assassination of former Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi.

Backing the call of the Congress party spokesman, India’s Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon Monday said that India has “consistently demanded the extradition of Prabhakaran”.

“This is a request we have renewed repeatedly,” Menon told reporters in New Delhi.

The elusive rebel leader, who founded LTTE in 1976, is known to have deep and seemingly secure underground caves and bunkers in the dense forests of Mullaitivu, from where he oversaw the war against Indian troops in Sri Lanka’s northeast during 1987-90.

Meanwhile, in its first reaction, the LTTE described the loss of Kilinochchi as an “insignificant setback in the context of the liberation struggle”.

In an interview with the pro-LTTE TamilNet website, LTTE political head B. Nadesan has claimed that it was in Kilinochchi where the Sri Lankan military had “suffered previous historic debacles”.

He told the website that Tamil people’s support had always been LTTE’s strength, and with the “moral backing of the global Tamil community” the outfit was determined to overcome current and future challenges.

“We have taken forward our struggle for more than 30 years, solely relying on the support of our people,” Nadesan has said, reiterating that the Tigers were spearheading the Tamil struggle that was based on legitimate political aspirations as defined by the democratic mandate in the elections of 1977.

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