De-escalate hostilities against Tamils, PM appeals to Sri Lanka

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Oct 15 | Updated: Oct 17 2008, 04:39am hrs
Under severe pressure from its pro-Tamil southern ally DMK, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday said his government was engaging the Sri Lankan government on the need for de-escalation of hostilities against Tamils in the island country.

While addressing a press conference on the IBSA meet, Singh expressed serious concern over the situation in Sri Lanka, especially over the killing of innocent fishermen in Lankan waters. DMK chief and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi had on Tuesday convened an all party meeting in Chennai, where they passed a resolution that all members of Parliament (MPs) from the state would quit within a fortnight if a ceasefire was not called in Sri Lanka. On Wednesday morning, DMK Rajya Sabha member and daughter of Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi gave her resignation to the CM, in a move that was clearly meant to put further pressure on the UPA government.

Expressing concern over the move by the DMK, the PM maintained that there was a need for a political settlement that respected the rights of minorities. The situation in Sri Lanka remains a cause of serious concern to India. We are concerned at the escalation of hostilities, he said, while addressing the media jointly with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Responding to questions whether he had spoken to Sri Lankan President Mahindra Rajapakse on the issue, the PM said: We are concerned about the harassment and killing of Indian fishermen in the neighbouring country. India has always believed that there cant be a military victory in Lanka, he added.

Singh also referred to the summoning of Sri Lankas Deputy High Commissioner GGAD Palithagenegoda by National Security Adviser MK Narayanan early this month to convey Indias strong condemnation of the military action in that country. New Delhi had asked Colombo to exercise greater restraint and show respect for sensitivities of the Tamil minorities.

The Congress party, however, maintained that while it was sympathetic to the Tamil cause, India had limitations on the issue of Lankan army offensive in the Tamil-inhabited areas of the island. Those who make demands about other sovereign countries should know that Indias sovereignty runs through the boundaries of India, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said adding it cannot interfere with the sovereignty of other countries.