India on Friday urged Sri Lanka to thrash out a political solution to the humanitarian crisis while ensuring the safety and security of Tamil civilians, but ruled out sending peace-keepers to the island nation.
Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma described the situation in Sri Lanka as "very grave" and said the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) should allow civilians to come out of the battlefield.
"The situation evolving in Sri Lanka is very grave. We have expressed our concern to Colombo and impressed upon the Sri Lankan government the need to ensure that the trapped civilians and Tamil minorities are able to move to safer places and rehabilitated," Sharma said at a media conference in Kolkata.
He said India has extended help to civilians who have been at the "receiving end from both sides" by sending medical teams which have treated thousands of them.
The minister said New Delhi has consistently told Colombo that the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka had legitimate issues. "A political solution is necessary within the framework of a united and democratic Sri Lanka," he said.
He said India was making a distinction between the banned LTTE and the Tamil civilians.
"The civilians need all assistance which must be given, but it would be a huge mistake to equate LTTE, a banned terrorist organisation, with the civilians who are victims. We have to make a distinction. That distinction must be made," he said.
Replying to a query, Sharma said: "The situation does not demand sending a peace-keeping force from India, nor will India do that."
He said the situation during late Rajiv Gandhi's prime ministership, when India dispatched peace troopers to the island nation, was different as he was the guarantor of an agreement then which was violated by the LTTE.