The Prime Minister responded swiftly to the concern expressed by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi over the killing of Tamils in military offensives in Sri Lanka by conveying to the island government that the human rights of ethnic Tamils must be respected.
Manmohan Singh’s reaction on Wednesday came even as Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi resigned from the Rajya Sabha.
Kanimozhi is the first Tamil Nadu MP to have offered her resignation after an all-party meeting resolution on Tuesday asked MPs from the state to resign if the Centre failed to take steps to “stop the war” on Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Although the resolution gave a two-week ultimatum to the Centre, Kanimozhi sent in her resignation to Karunanidhi on Wednesday. The letter (dated October 29 to coincide with the deadline) expressed her solidarity with the Sri Lankan Tamils.
The PM, speaking on the sidelines of the India-Brazil-South Africa Summit, said: “The situation in Sri Lanka remains a cause of serious concern for India. We are concerned over escalating hostilities, losses suffered by civilians and increasing number of displaced persons.”
He said India has conveyed its views to Sri Lanka, also at the time when NSA MK Narayanan called Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner on October 6.
“We always believe that the situation in Sri Lanka does not call for military victory. It calls for negotiated political settlement which respects the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka and at the same time respects the essential human rights of minorities, particularly Tamil minorities,” he said.
Singh added that India was also “concerned over harassment and killing of Indian fishermen” while fishing in maritime area between India and Sri Lanka.
On Tuesday, armed with the endorsement of eight parties, including the Congress, Karunanidhi had said if the Centre fails to take steps within two weeks to stop the ongoing war in Lanka, all 39 Lok Sabha MPs from the state would resign.
Such resignations would reduce the UPA’s tally — while also bringing down the legislative strength of the House — when the coalition needs to project a united front ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.
The Congress played down the underlying threat in Karunanidhi’s remarks. “We are dealing with a foreign country…There are some constraints,’’ said spokesman Manish Tiwari.