Sri Lanka
It's time for India to act on Sri Lanka, says Tamil party
Dec 30, 2006 - 8:59:22 AM

New Delhi, Dec 30 - Sri Lanka's main Tamil political party, which is aligned with the Tamil Tigers, is asking India to take the initiative to resurrect the island's battered peace process, saying the world is bound to back such a move.

The Tamil National Alliance - has also said that merely issuing statements on the deteriorating situation in the island was not enough for a country like India that is increasingly seeking to play a larger role in international affairs.

'Just talking loudly does not help. If India seeks a superpower status, if it wants a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, can it allow the killing of innocent people in Sri Lanka?' asked Suresh Premachandran, one of TNA's 22 MPs.

Premachandran spoke to IANS on telephone from Bangalore after meeting Indian spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, who as head of the Art of Living Foundation enjoys a wide following among all ethnic communities in Sri Lanka.

Besides Premachandran, his colleagues Mavai S. Senathirajah and K. Pathmanathan also spent an hour with the Tamil-speaking Ravi Shankar, who according to them pledged to take up the issue with New Delhi and in other world capitals.

A spokesman for Art of Living told IANS separately that Ravi Shankar, who regularly meets Sri Lankan leaders, was of the opinion that New Delhi could play a role in bridging the 'trust deficit' between the LTTE and Colombo.

The spokesman quoted Ravi Shankar as saying that any delay on India's part to play a more active role was costing the lives of innocents, particularly in the island's northeast. The guru also urged both Sri Lanka and the Tigers to return to the path of peace.

Premachandran, who was one of five TNA MPs who had a path-breaking meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about 10 days ago, said: 'It is time for India to take the initiative -. The whole world will be behind India.

'Simply issuing statements won't be enough. Even there it has to stop supporting Sri Lanka's territorial integrity if there is no space for a political settlement. India will have to take some steps.'

Asked what specifically TNA expected India to do, Premachandran pondered for a moment before saying: 'For the last three months, India has been talking about sending food to Sri Lankan north. Even that has not happened.'

He said the TNA delegation urged Ravi Shankar to take up the state of affairs in Sri Lanka, where over 3,000 people have been killed in renewed violence this year, with the Indian government as well as other countries.

Senathirajah, who led the delegation although Premachandran did most of the talking, said they also brought to Ravi Shankar's notice the Sri Lankan government's decision to divide the island's northeastern province into two.

'How will Tamil Nadu feel is its northern and southern parts are broken up into two different states?' he asked. 'A united northeastern province constitutes the cornerstone of a political settlement. That is gone now.'

He was referring to Colombo's decision, in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling, to administer the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka separately, disregarding appeals by India and other members of the international community.

Sri Lankan Tamils consider the northeast as their traditional homeland. Its break up would drastically reduce the Tamil community's say in the multi-racial eastern wing that has also witnessed some of the worst fighting this year.

The Art of Living has been active in Sri Lanka's Tamil and Sinhalese areas since the 2004 tsunami. Ravi Shankar created a stir when he visited, with Colombo's blessings, the LTTE-held north in September this year.

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