CHENNAI: Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has been in the forefront in alleviating the pain and sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils. She took the lead in opposing the war crimes in Lanka and took a firm stand against the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. She even asked for an economic blockade against the island government.
On all issues linked to the island nation, including protection of Tamil minorities there, the rights of Tamil Nadu’s fishermen vis-a-vis attacks of Sri Lankan Navy, the retrieval of Katchatheevu and the UN resolution against Sri Lanka, she maintained an aggressive stand, forcing the Union government to shake off its complacency.
During her first visit to New Delhi on June 14, 2011 after assuming office for the third time, she presented a memorandum to Pr-ime Minister Manmohan Singh drawing his attention to the genocide of Tamil civilians during
the civil war in Sri Lanka and serious human rights violations outside the conflict zone.
Jayalalithaa asked the Centre to raise the issue in the United Nations to get those found guilty of such war crimes declared as war criminals.
On June 8, 2011, the State Assembly passed a resolution urging the Central government to take up the issue of war crimes with the UN and declare the guilty war criminals.
Economic sanctions against Sri Lanka till the Tamils are fully rehabilitated and equal rights for them were her other major demands. In fact, this had been her position even before assuming power.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister urged Prime Minister Singh to make efforts to retrieve Katchatheevu and restore the traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu’s fishermen.
She also discussed at length the issue of Indian fishermen being attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy and sought steps to halt it.
Ahead of her Delhi visit, she got an unanimous resolution adopted in the State Assembly on June 9, 2011 calling upon the State Revenue Department to implead itself in a case filed by her in the Supreme Court in 2008 on the retrieval of Katchatheevu. When the Katchatheevu issue came up recently in the House, she reaffirmed her resolve to retrieve the islet.
On June 21, 2011, hours after 23 more fishermen were detained by the Sri Lankan Navy, Jayalalithaa wrote a letter to PM Singh asking him to intervene and secure their release.
On November 7, 2011, she lashed out at Sri Lanka for trying to create fear psychosis among Tamil Nadu fishermen with the idea of forcing to keep them away from the Palk Bay area, and urged Prime Minister Singh to take a tough stand.
Hardening her stand on Sri Lanka calling for suspension of ferry service between the two countries, which resumed after a gap of 28 years on June 14, 2011, she termed the operations a “great national threat”. She pointed out that her government was not consulted before resuming the service.
On the issue of US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, she repeatedly pressured the Centre to vote against the island nation. She wrote two letters to the Prime Minister, first on February 29, and again on March 6, urging the Centre to support the US-sponsored resolution in the UN Human Rights Council.
Taking on the Prime Minister on the same issue, she described his statement in the Parliament that India was inclined to vote in favour of the US resolution as evasive and that would serve no purpose.
Accusing Manmohan for being silent on human rights violations in Sri Lanka, she pointed out that the Prime Minister had not said that the Sri Lankan government had to be condemned for violation of human rights.
Cornering the Prime Minister, she said that he had only stated that his government was inclined to vote in favour of the resolution sponsored by the US even while stating that he did not have the final text of the resolution.