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India must respond to Gotabaya’s statement

[Express Buzz, Friday, 19 August 2011 07:04 No Comment]

Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s brother and that lends greater resonance to his words. In a recent interview, he lashed out against those who voice concern over the plight of the Tamils in the island nation. He singled out Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa among those who have been espousing the cause of the Tamils “for political reasons”. What he implies implicitly is that Indians have no right to speak on behalf of the Sri Lankan Tamils. It is now more than two years since the Sri Lankan army defeated the LTTE and killed its chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. However, there is increasing evidence that the Tamils had to suffer atrocities at the hands of the army.

Thousands of Tamils still remain in relief camps, deprived of even the basic necessities of life. The condition of the lakhs who returned to their land is no better. What’s worse, the Rajapaksa government, which still gloats over the “final solution” it found for the demand for a Tamil Eelam, is not even prepared to acknowledge the unfinished task of the war, ie, the rehabilitation of the affected population. At no point during the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka did India support the cause of Tamil Eelam, for it believed in the integrity of Sri Lanka. But that does not mean that it can turn a blind eye to the unfolding human tragedy.

On humanitarian grounds India offered relief material worth `500 crore to help rehabilitate the internally displaced Tamils. It has also shown its readiness to contribute more. Given this, it is natural that the defence secretary’s statement has caused incense, not just in Tamil Nadu but all over the country.

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