Protect Tamils rights, India tells Sri Lanka

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi, Oct 22 | Updated: Oct 24 2008, 05:19am hrs
India again reminded Colombo of the need for finding a political solution to the ethnic conflict and to ensure the safety of Tamil civilians caught in the crossfire.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, in a suo moto statement in Parliament, said, We have emphasised to the Sri Lankan government that the safety and the security of the civilians must be safeguarded at all costs and unhindered supply of food and essential supplies to them.

While reiterating India's concern over the detoriating condition in the island, Mukherjee said, We have been assured that the safety and well-being of the Tamilians in Sri Lanka will be taken care of.

Without disclosing the dates of Sri Lankan president special envoy's visit, Mukherjee said Basil Rajapaksa will be coming to discuss issues relating to the welfare of Tamil minorities in the wake of the military offensive in Sri Lanka.

However, according to sources, Basil, younger brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is likely to visit India on Saturday. And only after that, Mukherjee is expected to go to Colombo.

Ahead of Basil's visit, Lankan minister of rural industries and self-employment promotion SB Nawinna said his government is committed to protect Tamils in the northern region and it had made efforts to supply food and other essential items to those affected.

The government will end the conflict through a political settlement. After liberating the eastern region from the LTTE, the government will conduct elections and make a Tamil as the chief minister. Likewise, due representation will be given to people in north also, he told mediapersons on the sidelines of a function in New Delhi.

Rejecting a military solution to the ethnic conflict, Mukherjee repeated India's conviction that Sri Lanka needs to pursue a peacefully negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka respecting the legitimate rights of the minorities .

The minister also stressed on practical arrangements to prevent firing by Sri Lankan Navy on Indian fishermen and said New Delhi has taken up the issue with Colombo to ensure the safety of Indian fishermen.