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LTTE has done damage to Lankan Tamils, says Pranab
February 18, 2009 13:16 IST
Last Updated: February 18, 2009 15:26 IST
Denouncing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, India on Wednesday said the outfit had caused 'much damage' to the Tamil community and it should lay down arms, as there is a political opportunity after 23 years to restore normalcy in northern parts of the island nation.
Making a suo motu statement in Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee [Images] said India remains concerned over the safety and welfare of civilians caught in the conflict, most of them Tamils, and is ready to facilitate their evacuation.
He underlined that the full implementation of the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution, which entails devolution of powers, would be a significant first step towards bringing about a political settlement to the issue.
"India continues to support a negotiated political settlement in Sri Lanka [Images] within the framework of an undivided Sri Lanka, acceptable to all the communities, including the Tamil community," he said.
"The LTTE [Images] remains a proscribed organisation in India and has done much damage to the Tamil community," Mukherjee said in the statement.
Members of the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the Pattali Makkal Katchi expressed unhappiness over Pranab's statement and forced two adjournments of the House by creating uproarious scenes.
"The earlier normal democratic political processes begin in Sri Lanka, the better," Mukherjee said, adding "In our view, after 23 years of conflict, there is today a political opportunity to restore life to normalcy in the northern province and throughout Sri Lanka."
He said Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse has assured him that this was his intent too.
The members of the PMK, a constituent of the United Progressive Alliance, and the MDMK expressed unhappiness over the statement and demanded its withdrawal.
They particularly objected when Mukherjee said that in the recent past, LTTE cadres had not only stopped Tamilians escaping from the conflict zone, but also killed some of them.
When the minister completed reading out his statement, these members rushed towards the well chanting 'Stop the War immediately'.
Accusing the government of speaking the language of the Sri Lankan government, they said India should intervene to bring about an immediate ceasefire in the island nation.
The Speaker told them to give a notice if they wanted to raise any issue, but as they were in no mood to listen, he adjourned the House till 12.45 pm.
When the House met again, the PMK and MDMK members were again on their feet to press their demands, prompting the Chair to adjourn the House till 2 pm.
The minister earlier said that India has sent two batches of relief supplies to the civilians and the internally displaced persons, facilitated access by international and United Nations organisations, and suggested ways for civilians to escape from the conflict zone.
Another batch of relief material is being sent, he said.
Recalling his visit to Colombo on January 27, Mukherjee said that during his meeting with Rajapakse, he had stresses on the need for giving an opportunity to civilians caught in the conflict to move out from LTTE-held areas.
Mukherjee said he had also suggested a pause in hostilities to provide the necessary environment.
The Sri Lankan president, on January 29, announced a 48-hour period for civilian safe passage to secure areas, he said, adding Rajapakse also appealed to the LTTE to allow civilians to leave, assuring safety and security of the civilians who did so.
"The full implementation of the 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution would be a significant first step," he said while pointing out that the amendment was introduced to give effect to the India-Sri Lanka accord of 1987.
"Going beyond the 13th amendment on the question of devolution of powers would be significant," he said.
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