Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Wednesday hurled a political time-bomb at the already beleagured UPA II government by demanding the central govenrment to impose economic sanctions against neighbouring island nation, Sri Lanka, for alleged genocide against innocent Tamils in that nation.
Piloting a reolution demanding imposition of economic sanctions against Sri Lanka in the state assembly, Jayalalithaa said only economic sanctions that hurt its economy would force the Sri Lankan government to alleviate sufferings of hundreds of thousands of innocent Tamil speaking populace there. It would then force the Sri Lankan government to provide the Tamils a honourable and decent life, she said. The resolution was passed unanimously by a voice vote.
Sri Lanka did not heed the global opinion when it came to the Tamils issue, Jayalalithaa said demanding that India press the United Nations to declare those responsible for the genocide against innocent Tamils as "war criminals".
Only economic sanctions, imposed by India and other coutries, would rein in Sri Lanka. "Only then would Sri Lanka listen to what we say,"
Jayalalithaa said in her speech moving the resolution. Several serious allegations of human rights violations formed the basis for the resolution, the chief minister said alleging that Tamils were being treated as second class citizens in their own country. Terrorism had crept in the name of Tamil Eelam in that country and recalled that after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, the sympathy towards LTTE in Tamil Nadu had turned into anger against that outfit.
The Tamil Nadu assembly resolution was anticipated, as Jayalalithaa had been expressing strong views on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue for the past few years and had held the union government and the DMK government in Tamil Nadu jointly responsibe for the plight of the innocent Tamils.
She also took a dig at Karunanidhi who undertook a "fast" after having breakfast and calling it off later in the day.
Sri Lankan Tamils issue was one of the key issues that she highlighted during the campaign for the assembly elections and she had made it a point to visit the widow of a Tamil fishermen allegedly shot and killed by Sri Lankan naval personnel on highseas. Over the past decade, more than 150 Tamil fishermen have been killed, allegedly by Sri Lankan forces when they went fishing.
Jayalalithaa had strongly criticised Karunanidhi for merely writing letters on the Lankan Tamils plight but when it came to his own family members, he threatened to withdraw support to the UPA government.
She had maintained that the central government and the previous DMK government paid only lip service to suffering Tamils and at the same time played host to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapksa, whom she held responsible for the genocide of innocent Tamils.
In fact, during the campaign as well as in a television interview after winning the elections in May, Jayalalithaa demanded that the Sri Lankan president must be tried as a war criminal.
In a related development, Jayalalithaa asked for the prime minister Manmohan Singh's intervention in the release of four Tamil fishermen hailing from the coastal town of Ramanathapuram, who are behind held by the Sri Lankan police ever since they surredered after they inadvertently landed on Sri Lankan soil.
The four fishermen, whose boat got destroyed on sea due to inclement weather swam across to Nainatheevu in Sri Lanka and surrendered to army athorities there on June 3. Since then, they have been held by the Sri Lankan police, Jayalalithaa said requesting the prime minister to' get their release expeditiously. The Sri Lankan government could release them as a goodwill gesture, the chief minister said.