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Govt promises 'strong' Sri Lanka resolution, rejects Karunanidhi's betrayal claim

The government today denied that it had diluted the US-sponsored resolution denouncing Sri Lanka over rights abuses at the UNHRC in Geneva and promised to push for a "strong" resolution. Speaker calls all-party meet to end parliament logjam

india Updated: Mar 20, 2013 18:53 IST
Sri Lankan Tamils,DMK,sri lanka UNHRC resolution

The government Wednesday denied that it had diluted the US-sponsored resolution denouncing Sri Lanka over rights abuses at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and promised to push for a "strong" resolution.

"India's position has always been and remains that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation," finance minister P Chidambaram.

"This is a canard. The (media) story is stoutly denied," said Chidambaram.

DMK president M Karunanidhi said Wednesday that his party quit the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and the government after realizing that India helped to dilute the US resolution.

Karunanidhi said chief minister J Jayalalithaa and reports in a section of media had implied he had confined his demand to just passing a resolution in Parliament incorporating amendments suggested to the US-backed resolution, which he said was "condemnable."

He recalled his party had demanded that an amendment be made to declare that genocide and war crimes had been committed and inflicted on Eelam Tamils by the Sri Lankan Army and administrators and an independent international commission of investigation be established in a time bound manner, which should be adopted as a resolution in Parliament.

"Our request and desire is that this should also be moved in the UNHRC as part of the US resolution. But the demand for international investigation into war crimes is not mentioned in the resolution and instead it has been said that the Sri Lankan government should lead a probe.

"In this way, the US resolution has been diluted to a large extent. The watering down has been done on the basis of India whole-heartedly accepting and appreciating a report tabled by the Lankan government at UNHRC," he said, adding rights body Amnesty International had also accused India of diluting the resolution.

Further, DMK's suggested amendments were not considered fully and therefore at this juncture, the party had announced its stand of pulling out of UPA, he said.

A vote is coming up at the 47-member UNHRC pulling up Sri Lanka for military excesses during the final stages of the war that vanquished the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Last year, India had played a similar role even as it voted against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.

Chidambaram said India intends to move amendments to the US resolution at the UNHRC and that the government was also talking to political parties over a resolution on Sri Lanka to be moved in Parliament.

Colombo has repeatedly denied killing Tamil civilians.

Chidambaram said the government had Tuesday finalised amendments to the draft resolution at Geneva.

"We will also continue to consult political parties on bringing a resolution to be adopted by Parliament," he said.

The statement said India's permanent representative to the UNHRC was in New Delhi for consultations.

It denied media reports that India had worked with the US to dilute the text of the draft UNHRC resolution.

Chidambaram, however, said the proposed resolution in Parliament was not linked to the withdrawal of support by the DMK.

He reiterated that the government was stable -- despite the withdrawal of support by the DMK that has 18 members in the Lok Sabha.

Information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari said the government had to be sensitive to the feelings of the people of a state.

The reference was to the unending street protests in Tamil Nadu demanding that India should take a hard line vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka has denied that its forces committed war crimes during the decades-long conflict with Tamil separatists in the north and east of the island, which ended with an military onslaught in early 2009.

International rights groups estimate that 40,000 civilians died in the final months of fighting.

India, home to millions of Tamils who share links with their counterparts in Sri Lanka, risks a further worsening in relations with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse who has resisted any foreign interference.

Sri Lanka on Wednesday warned pilgrims against travelling to Tamil Nadu, a day after lodging a formal protest with New Delhi over repeated physical attacks against visiting Sri Lankans.

Dozens of Buddhists monks demonstrated outside the Indian embassy in Colombo for a second straight day on Wednesday. India has postponed scheduled defence cooperation talks this month, officials said.

In another move likely to deepen the discord, Chidambaram said the government was consulting other parties about a Parliamentary resolution which would also call on Sri Lanka to investigate the alleged war crimes.

Leader of the ruling Congress party, Sonia Gandhi, said Tuesday that India was "most pained" that Tamils in Sri Lanka were being denied their rights and New Delhi was "anguished by reports of unspeakable atrocities".

Sri Lanka's top general, who led the campaign against the Tamil Tiger rebels, said Tuesday the government should accept an investigation but he rejected any suggestion of genocide.

"Some people have questions. Some people have doubts. Some people want to know what happened," Sarath Fonseka, who is now a top opposition figure, told the Foreign Correspondents' Association.

"We will have to justify the actions taken by us. I am ready to answer anyone. I am ready to clarify any doubts."

Raising its pitch on the Lankan Tamils issue, DMK on Wednesday charged that the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at UNHRC was diluted on the basis of India's "wholehearted acceptance and appreciation" of a report tabled by Colombo at the UN body.

(With IANS, AFP and PTI inputs)

First Published: Mar 20, 2013 14:36 IST