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Will India too back Lanka after report

Last week, the Lankan government fretted, sulked and warned against the public release of the three-member expert panel’s report on human rights accountability in Sri Lanka.

world Updated: Apr 27, 2011 00:52 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Last week, the Lankan government fretted, sulked and warned against the public release of the three-member expert panel’s report on human rights accountability in Sri Lanka.

What it could do if the report was released – it was finally released by the UN on Monday night – wasn’t too clear though. The public release of the report will violate the principles of equality that the UN was founded on, the mild mannered external affairs minister, GL Peiris, said in a rare display of righteous anger.

So, now that the noble principles of equality have been shamelessly violated, what next? A May Day rally is likely to be orchestrated against UN; President Mahinda Rajapaksa can’t go back on the mass-leader like call he gave to the workers of his Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), many of whom would surely be pundits on international diplomacy, about Sri Lanka being a victim of western conspiracy.

Beijing and Moscow will likely forward their willing hand in guiding Lanka out of the diplomatic muddle. Both have already spoken out against the report.

But what will the Island nation’s closest and biggest neighbour do? New Delhi has expectedly kept quiet till now. And it is unlikely, at least publicly, that India will start talking about war crimes and accountability of the Rajapaksa regime.

Because, many assume, that India knew exactly what was happening inside the so called `no fire zone’ (NFZ) in the last bloody months of the war when ``tens of thousands of civilians’’ were killed. India believed that a political solution for the Tamil community was feasible only after the decimation of the LTTE.

Former foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, even told Parliament in February, 2009 that around 70000 displaced civilians were inside the NFZ; the actual figure was about three lakhs. The UN said the Lankan government deliberately played down the numbers of the displaced. Was Mukherjee misled by the Lankan government too?

New Delhi made worried statements about rising civilian casualties but Colombo’s assurances kept the Indian government quiet.

Since the end of war, India, however, has repeatedly talked about a solution to the ethnic issue. Rajapaksa called Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after getting the report. What response he will finally get remains to be seen.