India is “worried” about the fate of Tamils in Sri Lanka and wants them to live with “dignity and self respect”, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday.
“There are problems in Sri Lanka; we have been worried about the fate of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka,” Manmohan Singh said in the Rajya Sabha as part of a larger debate.
“It has been our effort to plead with the government of Sri Lanka that there must be political reconciliation, that without national reconciliation (the) situation cannot remain calm.”
The prime minister asked Colombo to take the initiative to talk to the “Tamil top leadership” in Sri Lanka.
“It has been our effort to work with the leadership in Sri Lanka and to ensure that Tamil people (there) do get a chance to live a life of dignity and self respect as equal citizens of the country.”
The prime minister’s comments follow widespread allegations of rights abuses in Sri Lanka both during the war against the Tamil Tigers that ended in 2009 and since then.
There is also intense criticism in India that Sri Lanka has failed to honour the commitments made by its leaders to the Indian leadership to go for a political resolution of the long running ethnic conflict.
The Manmohan Singh government is under pressure from political foes and at least one ally to vote against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva this month.
But in his speech Friday, Manmohan Singh made no reference to the Geneva meet or to allegations that the 12-year-old son of the slain Tamil Tigers chief V. Prabhakaran was killed after capture by the Sri Lanka Army.