The Indian government has invited Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa to New Delhi for talks, ahead of next month’s session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, according to informed sources. The visit is expected to take place in the next few days because Sri Lanka’s case is to be taken by the UNHRC on November 1, under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) scheme. India is in the three-nation panel which will oversee the review.
In the last session of the UNHRC in March, a US-sponsored resolution hostile to Sri Lanka was passed. In the coming session too, the council is expected to take a critical stance.
In the March session, India got the US to dilute its resolution before voting for it. This time, sources say, India may find it difficult to help the island nation in the light of some developments which it finds disturbing.
Foremost among them is Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s reported statement that the 13th Amendment (13A) of the Sri Lankan Constitution, which gives a measure of autonomy to the provinces, should be scrapped because it is fostering “separatism”.
The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), a constituent of the government, has started an agitation to get the 13A repealed on the ground that it was enacted at the point of the Indian gun. It has been India’s consistent line that devolution of power to the provinces, including the Tamil-dominated north and east, will bring about peace and ethnic reconciliation to the troubled island.
By P K Balachandran