April 24, 2009 5:45:26 pm
Terming the situation in Sri Lanka as “very grave”,India said on Friday that the Tamil minorities in the island nation have some “legitimate issues” and asked Colombo to work for a political solution “within the framework of a united and democratic Sri Lanka”.
On a day when National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon visited Colombo and met President Mahinda Rajapaksa,Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said Sri Lanka government has the responsibility of ensuring safety and security of civilians. Sharma also said it is “incumbent upon LTTE” to allow civilians to leave the battle front.
“The evolving situation in Sri Lanka is very grave. We have expressed concern to Colombo. We are also impressing upon the Lanka government to ensure the trapped civilians and Tamil minorities are able to move to safer places and given rehabilitation,” Sharma told reporters in Kolkata.
“India has been consistent in conveying one thing that there are legitimate issues of Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka and a political solution is necessary within the framework of a united and democratic Sri Lanka,” he said.
Sharma said India has extended all possible assistance to civilians who have been at the “receiving end from both sides”. The assistance includes medical teams of the Indian armed forces who have treated thousands of people,including 100 serious cases.
“Day before yesterday,we sent 40,000 family packs of relief materials. We are ready to despatch more,” he said. The minister said there is a need to distinguish between the banned terror outfit LTTE and the Tamil civilians.
“The civilians need all assistance which must be given,but it would be a huge mistake to equate LTTE,a banned terrorist organisation,with the civilians who are victims. That distinction must be made,” he said.
Sharma said there is no need to send any peace keeping forces to Sri Lanka. “There is no situation which demands sending a peace keeping force from India,nor will India do that,” he said when asked if New Delhi would send units like the IPKF during late Rajiv Gandhi’s prime ministership.
“That was a different situation. There was an agreement. He (Rajiv) had facilitated it. The Indian prime minister was the guarantor of the agreement… that agreement was violated. Because of the situation that arose,the IPKF was sent to Sri Lanka,” he clarified.
He said the late prime minister wanted a constitutional resolution of the issues within a “united and democratic Sri Lanka.”
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