Manmohan mum on attending CHOGM
By Devirupa Mitra | Published: 20th August 2013 09:54 AM |
Even as Sri Lanka handed over the formal invite to attend the Commonwealth summit, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told visiting Lankan Foreign Minister G L Peiris that Colombo had to expeditiously release the apprehended Indian fishermen as per the earlier process, instead of subjecting them to a judicial trial.
Sri Lanka recently unilaterally changed the process of fishermen nabbed by its navy for poaching in territorial waters, claiming that they need to have adequate deterrent. This has led to almost 114 Indian fishermen languishing in the island nation, facing a long judicial process.
The main purpose of Peiris’ visit is to invite Manmohan Singh to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting on November 15-17.
The PM apparently thanked him for the “gesture”, but no commitment has been made on his attending the summit.
According to sources, the PM emphasised to Peiris the “need for expeditious return of Indian fishermen as has been the process followed by both sides in the recent past”. “He emphasised the need to treat it as a humanitarian issue,” said an official source.
This has become a major political issue in Tamil Nadu, with both the AIADMK and DMK again raising the matter in reference to their opposition to the PM participating in the CHOGM, in Rajya Sabha.
AIADMK MP V Maitreyan said the people of Tamil Nadu were eagerly awaiting to see how the Prime Minister will respond. “Is he going to side with the Sri Lankan government, which they consider as their enemy country,” Maitreyan asked.
Stating that there was no reply from the Centre, Maitreyan quoted from two letters sent by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa over “continuing human rights violation” of Tamils in Lanka.
“I urge the Prime Minister not to attend the meeting at the very least. India should stay away from CHOGM,” he said.