The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi on Friday deputed the State Higher Education Minister, Dr K Ponmudi, to meet the External Affairs Minister, S M Krishna in New Delhi to explain the need for immediate Indian intervention about a humanitarian aid ship turned away by Colombo.
The Ship MV ‘Captain Ali’ carrying humanitarian relief items for the internally displaced Sri Lankan Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka from some European countries including France was on June 8 reportedly turned away by the Sri Lankan Navy from anchoring in Colombo port after checking and has since reached Chennai on Thursday.
Referring to the ship with 884 tonnes of food, medicine and other relief materials for the affected Sri Lankan Tamils now stranded here with the Indian Coast Guard keeping a watch over it nonetheless, Karunanidhi today dashed off a strong missive to Krishna stating that “it is customary for the International community to send relief materials to suffering human beings wherever they may be and whatever be the location.”
It was not uncommon either for International Aid agencies to distribute relief materials to the affected civilian population “even in war zones where battle is raging on,” Karunanidhi said in his letter to Krishna, copies of which were released to the media in Chennai.
Hence, it was only “appropriate, timely and critical as well for the Government of India to intervene at this juncture and persuade the Government of Sri Lanka to allow unloading of the relief materials sent through the vessel MV ‘Captain Ali’,” the Chief Minister urged.
Sri Lanka could be requested to consider unloading and distribution of the relief materials to the displaced Tamils there under the supervision of International Agencies like the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC), Karunanidhi said, adding, India’s intervention now on “purely humanitarian grounds” would go a long way in helping the internally displaced Tamils there house in makeshift camps.
MV ‘Captain Ali’ is presently awaiting instructions from a Shipping agent in Calcutta on the next port of call, it is learnt. Port and Coast Guard officials told HT that the ship continued to be in the Chennai waters on Friday, but outside the Port area.