Colombo, June 12
Sri Lanka has told India it will not concede key land and police powers to provincial councils under a New Delhi-initiated political plan aimed at resolving the long-drawn Tamil issue, a media report said today, warning that it could bring the two sides on ”a collision course.”
President Mahinda Rajapaksa told a visiting top Indian delegation yesterday that the key police powers and control over land cannot be given to provincial councils established under the 13th amendment that deals with devolution of powers.
“The government’s tough stance in not giving land and police powers to provincial councils is expected to pitch Colombo and New Delhi on a collision course diplomatically,” the Sunday Times newspaper said.
There was no immediate comment from the government which did not issue any statement after Rajapaksa held a breakfast meeting with National Security Adviser Shivshanker Menon, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar.
The troika was also accompanied by India’s High Commissioner here, Ashok Kanth.
Menon told Colombo-based Indian reporters just before the top Indian officials left here that Sri Lanka would build on the 13th amendment which was a result of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka peace accord.The Sunday Times said it learnt about strong opposition from constituent partners of Rajapaksa’s United People’s Freedom Alliance to granting more powers to the provincial councils which largely remain ineffective.
“President Rajapaksa is learnt to have told the Indian delegation that his government would concede many other subjects that are incorporated in the Concurrent List (subjects that both the centre and the councils can do) that accompanies the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.”
He also told the Indian delegation that his government will withdraw Emergency Regulations with regard to terrorist activities in the North and East since there was no more war in the two regions, the Times said.
Menon told reporters yesterday that Sri Lanka has already pledged to improve on the Constitutional amendment and hoped they would implement it.
“The quicker the Sri Lankan government can come to a political arrangement (with the minority Tamils) the better,” he said, adding that an arrangement that is acceptable to all is the objective.
India appeared to have toughened its stand on Sri Lanka last month by asking publicly for the first time in decades to investigate alleged human rights abuses and end emergency rule.