Sutirtho Patranobis,/ June 11, 2011
India has conveyed to Sri Lanka that it was up to the island nation’s government to change the 13th Amendment to bring in a suitable political resolution that will enable all communities in the country to live together. The 13th Amendment to the Lankan Constitution was made in 1987 as part of the In
do-Lanka Accord to devolve power to country’s regions with focus on the Tamil-majority areas.
“If they think, they want to better than the 13th Amendment as many of them do including the government (which) also speaks of 13th Amendment-plus …they want to do different…whatever…that’s for them but they all must feel comfortable,’’ Shiv Shankar Menon, national security advisor (NSA) told reporters on Saturday.
Menon said the goal was a political arrangement under which all communities in Sri Lanka will be comfortable. “We naturally feel (that) quicker they themselves come to a political arrangement within which all communities are comfortable, works for all of them, the better. We will do whatever we can to help,’’ Menon said.
The NSA added that the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987 had provided an enabling environment for the Amendment. “It was their amendment, not our amendment by the way,” Menon said.
Menon was in Colombo heading a delegation comprising foreign secretary Nirupama Rao and defence secretary Pradeep Kumar. Earlier in the day, the troika met President Mahinda Rajapaksa to discuss wide-ranging bilateral matters including the fishermen issue and the pace of Indian post-war projects in Sri Lanka.
The Indian diplomats also met Tamil politicians who raised the issue of increasing militarisation of the Tamil-majority northern and eastern regions.
Talking about the Indian housing project, in which New Delhi has pledged to build 50,000 houses for the war-affected, Rao said at least 50 houses part of the 1000 to be build in the project is expected to be completed by the month-end. Rao said initial “teething problems’’ including getting work visas and clearing land, were over and the project would soon pick up pace.
Menon added that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had accepted an invitation from Rajapaksa to visit Sri Lanka and a mutually convenient date would be worked out soon.