Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today affirmed India’s commitment for a political solution to the Sri Lankan Tamils issue during a meeting with TNA leaders, who would now consider joining a Parliamentary committee provided Colombo assures they will not be “cheated again”.
Singh also told a TNA delegation that India will not “backtrack” from its position that Tamils in Sri Lanka should lead a life of “dignity and self respect” in a peaceful environment, the team’s head R Sampanthan said.
The Prime Minister said India would continue to engage with the Tamil National Alliance in its efforts to find a political solution to the decades-old Tamil question.
During separate meetings with Singh and External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, Sampanthan said the TNA would consider joining the Parliamentary Select Committee on finding a political solution provided Mahinda Rajapaksa Government gives a firm assurance that they would not be “cheated again”.
Terming the meeting with Singh and Krishna as “extremely good”, he said the TNA told the Indian Prime Minister that the party was committed to achieving a political solution but would want an assurance from the Sri Lankan Government that the “negativity” would be removed.
“Prime Minister said India would never backtrack from its position that Tamils in Sri Lanka should lead a life of dignity and self respect in a peaceful environment. He told us that India is fully with Sri Lankan Tamils and would continue to engage with TNA,” Sampanthan said.
During the meetings, the Indian side also explained its position and how it was working with the Sri Lankan Government in implementing the 13th Amendment plus approach which envisages devolution of power to Tamil-dominated provinces, sources said.
India has been asking Sri Lanka to quickly follow-up the military victory achieved in 2009 with a political solution that fulfills genuine aspirations of minority Tamils.
During the meetings, India also apprised the TNA leaders of their position and stand on various issues relating to the political solution.
MPs of the TNA, which has emerged as the only credible representative of ethnic Tamils, told Krishna that the Tamils in Sri Lanka should be given an opportunity to lead a “dignified life” and there should be no effort to “cheat them again”.
Here at the invitation of Krishna for consultations on the process to achieve political solution, the delegation told the Indian side that Tamils have the “genuine right” for a political solution and everyone should respect the traditions which are followed by them.
“If we get assurances that we will not be cheated again and that our people will not be deceived once again, we are ready to walk towards the path of finding a (political) solution. The negativity has to be removed,” Sampnathan said.
Asked whether the TNA was ready to join the Parliamentary Select Committee, he said: “If the PSC has the intention of thrasing out a solution and has an agenda for (arriving at a political solution), we are ready to consider it. But, we are not ready to get cheated again.”
The TNA has been opposed to joining the PSC, which the Sri Lankan Government has proposed to find out a political solution to the conflict, saying the agenda was not clear.
Sampanthan also claimed that Indian side did not ask them to join the PSC.