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India may vote against Lanka over war crimes

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement in the Lok Sabha that India is inclined to vote in favour of a UN resolution against Colombo over alleged war crimes has placated the UPA's ally DMK. But if India does this, it could signal a big change in India's stand in the world body. PM regrets departure of Dinesh Trivedi | Karuna welcomes Govt decision to back US resolution

delhi Updated: Mar 20, 2012 01:04 IST
Shekhar Iyer

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's statement in the Lok Sabha that India is inclined to vote in favour of a UN resolution against Colombo over alleged war crimes has placated the UPA's ally DMK. But if India does this, it could signal a big change in India's stand in the world body.

As Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on March 13, "Our traditional stand has been that we have never supported any country-specific resolution at the UN Human Rights Council."

New Delhi is worried that if it backs a Lanka-specific resolution, it may not be able to resist a similar India-specific motion later, say on the Kashmir issue.

But, with DMK chief M Karunanidhi taking a hard line on the issue, the PM and the Congress brass sought to please him. The DMK, a UPA ally, has 18 members in the Lok Sabha.

A US-sponsored resolution to condemn Colombo's record in the 2009 war, which annihilated the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam(LTTE) and killed hundreds, made headlines after video tapes surfaced showing the bullet-ridden body of the son of slain LTTE chief V Prabhakaran.

Backed by France and Norway, the US motion seeking a probe into alleged war crimes is to be taken up at the UNHRC's meeting in Geneva on March 23.

Replying to the debate in Parliament, the PM said: "I may assure the House that we are inclined to vote in favour of a resolution that, we hope, will advance our objective, namely, the achievement of the future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka that is marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect."

A Union minister pointed out at the PM's carefully worded statement that said India was "inclined to" vote in favour of the resolution, only if that would advance "our objectives". But, senior DMK leaders said they did not see any rider and were "satisfied" with his remark.

A happy Karunanidhi welcomed the government's decision. He said his party had nearly decided to pull out its ministers from UPA and extend "issue based support"in the event of its demand not being met. Karunanidhi also called off his proposed one-day fast on March 22.

Resolution for probe, action plan

The controversial UN resolution on Sri Lanka that New Delhi is “inclined” to support, expresses concern that a body set up by Colombo after the 2009

army action against LTTE does not adequately address “serious allegations of violations of international law”.

A copy of the draft resolution dated March 7th says recommendations made by Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), remain unimplemented. These include one calling for probe into alleged extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances.

The resolution now wants Colombo to present an action plan and “address alleged violations of international law.” It wants a report to be submitted to the Council at its 22nd session in October, 2013.

Dipankar De Sarkar, london