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India monitoring aid flow to Tamils in Sri Lanka: Krishna

[Hindu, Thursday, 26 August 2010 08:26 No Comment]

The government said on Wednesday it was continuously monitoring the assistance given by India to displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Responding to a call attention in the Lok Sabha on rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said India was heavily dependent on the International Red Cross and the U.N. Commission on Refugees for monitoring aid. “We are continuously monitoring the situation on the basis of periodic assessments received from these two agencies and, based on the feedback received, we take it up with the Sri Lankan government,” he said.

The Minister said this in response to doubts expressed by the members on whether the beneficiaries were receiving the aid sent by India.

Not the right time

Turning down a demand by members of the AIADMK, the CPI, the CPI (M) and the MDMK for sending an all-party parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka to study the problems being faced by the Sri Lankan Tamils, he said: “I don’t think the time is ripe for it now.”

He added that New Delhi had impressed upon Colombo the need to work towards a “just and fair settlement” of all outstanding issues involving Sri Lankan Tamils.

All participants in the discussion expressed concern over the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and asked the government what it intended to do, as the money and relief material sent by India was “not being spent properly” and “without any accountability.” The MPs included T.R. Baalu (DMK) and M. Thambidurai (AIADMK).

Pointing out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had raised the issue during the recent visit of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse here, Mr. Krishna said India would stay engaged with Sri Lanka on issues relating to building further on the 13th Amendment adopted by Sri Lankan Parliament which gave effect to the devolution provisions of the India-Sri Lanka Accord of July 1987.

The Minister said the settlement, “acceptable under the ambit of the 13th Amendment and beyond,” should be implemented so that peace and tranquillity can prevail in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Krishna said he would visit Sri Lanka shortly to study the situation facing the Sri Lankan Tamils and other issues.

Responding to Mr. Baalu’s contention that there were 52,000 Tamils staying in refugee camps of Sri Lanka, the Minister said there were between 35,000-40,000 IDPs as per figures conveyed to the government.

‘Insult to India’

M. Thambidurai (AIADMK) demanded that an all-party delegation be sent to Sri Lanka and alleged that the army was “occupying” the areas earlier dominated by the Tamils. He said “it was an insult” to India that Colombo was not implementing the India-Sri Lanka Accord.

P.R. Natarajan (CPI-M) said Colombo was not even allowing a U.N. team to investigate human right violations by security forces in the island nation, while P. Lingam (CPI) made a forceful plea for urgent steps to have a political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamils’ problems.

[Full Coverage]

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