Victory against LTTE delayed by concern over civilains: Rajapaksa

October 21st, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghColombo, Oct 21 (IANS) As India was mounting pressure on Sri Lanka to ensure the safety of Tamil civilians caught in the war zone, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said that the victory against the Tamil Tiger rebels was “prolonged” due his government’s “grave concern” for civilians, media reports here said Tuesday.Addressing an award ceremony in Colombo Monday, Rajapaksa, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has said that his government has “directed the armed forces to refrain from inflicting any harm, even a scratch, to the innocent civilians who are being utilised as human shields by the terrorists in the Wanni”.

“The battle against terrorism, which we could convincingly win within a few days, is nevertheless prolonged due to the grave concern and the optimum caution exercised by the highly disciplined armed forces who are fighting under severe constraints, to cause no harm or loss to innocent, civilian human life,” the state-run Daily News quoted Rajapaksa as saying.

“We are proud to have an army which is complying and carrying out their humanitarian operations accordingly,” he said, claiming that Sri Lanka was the only country to provide “food and other essentials to a ruthless terrorist outfit, while simultaneously fighting them”.

In a telephone conversation with Rajapaksa, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had Saturday expressed India’s “deep concern on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north of Sri Lanka, especially on the plight of the civilians caught in the hostilities”.

Stressing that “the safety and the security of these civilians must be safeguarded at all costs”, Singh also said that “the rights and the welfare of the Tamil community of Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the on-going hostilities against the LTTE”.

Singh also reiterated that there was “no military solution” to the conflict and urged Rajapaksa “to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka”.

India’s reiteration of concern for Tamil civilians in the island’s north came a few days after Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, at an all-party meeting last week, threatened that all 40 MPs from Tamil Nadu would resign if India did not intervene to stop the “genocide” against Tamils in Sri Lanka before Oct 29.

Fifteen MPs of DMK, a key ally of the Manmohan Singh government and the ruling party of Tamil Nadu, have already handed over post-dated resignations over the situation in Sri Lanka.

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