Tamil Rights
2013-10-08 / .

India for lasting political solution in Sri Lankan Tamil areas: Khurshid

Jaffna: India on Tuesday said it would press for the meaningful devolution of powers in Sri Lanka’s provinces to foster a “lasting political settlement” that will ensure equality, justice and self-respect for the Tamil minority. “India is committed to pursuing the full implementation of the 13th Amendment, and building upon it, to achieve a meaningful devolution of powers,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said. “Our objective is to enable a lasting political settlement which will ensure that all communities, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, are able to lead a life marked by equality, justice, dignity and self-respect,” he said in his speech at a ceremony here to mark the handing over of a housing project and small business enterprises created with Indian aid.

Khurshid assured the people of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province that India will work closely with the Sri Lankan government and the regional council to ensure that a “constructive and cooperative relationship is established with the overall objective of rebuilding peoples’ lives devastated by the three decades of armed conflict.” India, he said, will do everything possible to work with Sri Lanka to take this “process forward in a spirit of partnership and cooperation.” Earlier in the day, Khurshid met Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who said Sri Lanka’s Parliament is the best forum to address the issue of devolving powers to Tamil-inhabited areas.

“Parliament is the best forum to address the issue,” Rajapaksa said. A Parliamentary Select Committee should hold a dialogue and frame a solution that is in line with what the people want, the President added. During his talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart GL Peiris on Monday, Khurshid sought meaningful devolution of powers by Sri Lanka and early resumption of dialogue to facilitate “genuine reconciliation” in Tamil-inhabited areas. Newly elected Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran, whose Tamil National Alliance swept the polls in the Northern Province, today said India played a key role in ensuring the holding of the election. He called on India to help rebuild the war-ravaged region.

On his first visit to Jaffna, Khurshid said he happy that his trip coincided with the successful culmination of the first provincial elections in over 25 years and the formation of the Northern Provincial Council. “After decades of armed conflict, when the people of Sri Lanka are staking a claim to a peaceful future, the government and the people of India remain committed to assisting them in their endeavours for rehabilitation and reconstruction,” he said. During the ceremony, certificates were handed over to beneficiaries of an Indian-aided housing project and a scheme to provide assistance to owners of micro and small enterprises damaged during the armed conflict. Khurshid also visited Tellipalai, a village where people are reconstructing their homes with funds provided by India.
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