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Need to keep implications in mind: Govt on UNHRC resolution on Lanka

[Deccan Chronicle, Wednesday, 14 March 2012 11:19 No Comment]

(PTI) Amid pressure from various parties to support a UN resolution against Sri Lanka, Government on Wednesday made it clear that it will decide on its action keeping in mind the implications on the reconciliation process as it does not want deepening of confrontation in that country.

Making a statement in Parliament, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said the issue was sensitive and India needs to consider the implications carefully.

"Any assertion on India’s part may have implications on our historically friendly relations with a neighbouring country," he said in identical statements in both Houses.

"We are engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve a forward looking outcome that is based on reconciliation and accountability rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between the concerned parties," Krishna said.

He said since the human rights allegations against Sri Lanka are yet to come up for formal discussion at the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, India will take a view ‘as and when the time is finalised for consideration’ of the draft resolution on Sri Lanka.

"We would also need to examine whether our actions will actually assist in the process of reconciliation in Sri Lanka, and enhance the current dialogue between the Government of Sri Lanka and Tamil parties, including the Tamil National Alliance," said Krishna.

AIADMK members were dissatisfied with his statement and its member A. Elavarasan tore a copy of the statement in the Rajya Sabha. They later walked out of the House.

AIADMK along with DMK and Left parties are demanding that India should support the resolution moved by the US, France and Norway against the alleged atrocities committed on Sri Lankan Tamils during the civil war.

Dissatisfied with the reply of the government on the issue, CPI leader D Raja also announced that his party members are walking out from the House. However, by then the Chair had already adjourned the House for lunch hour.

Assuring the House that the Government will keep in mind the views and sentiments expressed by members in the House before taking a final view on the resolution, Krishna later told the MPs replying to clarifications "when human rights are violated, India is not going to be lulled into complacency."

While noting that India’s objectives, as always, continue to remain the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect, he said, "we would certainly like Sri Lanka to look at their human rights issue in a very serious manner."

At the same time, he made it clear that "meddling with internal affairs of another country is certainly not" keeping in tune with the best traditions of Indian foreign policy.

He also pointed out that the decision to send a Parliamentary delegation to Sri Lanka to take a view of the rehabilitation work being done for Sri Lankan Tamils could not take place as the Leader of Opposition had some engagements.

The minister assurance that India is committed to see that the Sri Lankan government implemented all the major recommendations of Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), however, did not satisfy the members from the Opposition and ally DMK.

T Siva (DMK) dismissed the minister’s reply saying "… most of the times the statement of the minister of external affairs happens to be a xerox copy of Sri Lankan government. He said whatever is there on television or media by Sri Lankan government is repeated here.

He said even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s assurance on the issue are not implemented in letter and spirit.

"Nothing short of an assurance here that Government of India will unequivocally support the resolution in the UNHRC will pacify," he said.

Asking as to how the External Affairs Minister got the confidence and hope that Sri Lankan government will deliver justice, DMK member Kanimozhi said, "we cannot accept a statement like this."

As the minister insisted on India’s policy of not interfering into internal matters of a country, she retorted that such arguments are given only when any issue concerning South India comes up.

D. Raja (CPI) said the minister’s statement "has not taken note of the ground realities in Sri Lanka" and questioned why India should wait for the US or Norway to take up the issue of war crimes against Tamilians in that country.

"India should be the first country to raise the issue of war crime. We should have taken the lead…Succumbing to certain blackmail, certain pressures…that India can’t do."

Venkaiah Naidu (BJP) said the government has ‘miserably failed’ to persuade Sri Lanka to take action against the war crimes.

"Can we close our eyes to what has happened," Naidu said, asking the government to take Parliament into confidence before formulating its response to the UN resolution issue.

B.S. Gnanidesikan (Cong) also expressed concern over non-implementation of the LLRC report by the Sri Lankan government and demanded serious efforts by the India to ensure that accountability for the war crimes in that country is fixed.

T. K. Rangarajan (CPI-M) asked, "Where is the Tamil sentiment into the minister’s statement." His party colleague Tarini Kanta Roy said he was ‘deeply distressed’ to read the statement saying the country’s foreign policy has now moved ‘far away’ from the high pedestal it had during Nehru’s time.

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