Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday expressed hope that the ethnic issue in Sri Lanka will be resolved permanently with "positive signals" coming from the Rajapaksa Government on resettlement of displaced Tamils with equal rights.
He said the Centre had asked the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa during his recent visit to India to send back the remaining 57,000 Tamils, who were now in camps, to their homes. Rajapaksa has assured that they would be sent back in another three to six months, he said at a function here.
Chidambaram said successive Indian governments since 1984, when the ethnic conflict broke out, have taken the position that the issue should be resolved without affecting the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka and the Tamils there should be given equal rights in a federal set up, like states in India.
"The Sri Lankan Government can make provision in the Constitution and provide equal rights for Tamils area also. This is the same line, we hope, on which the Sri Lankan issue will be permanently resolved now," Chidambaram said.
He said India has granted Rs 1,000 crore for construction of 13,000 houses for the Lankan Tamils returning to Jaffna.
50,000 houses in total are being constructed for the displaced Tamils, he added.
India has also given USD 800 Million on simple interest for rehabilitation of the Tamils and infrastrcuture development, including laying of roads.