Breaking his silence on the ethnic issue and post-war reconciliation in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in response to Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s letter, has said India was for creating an environment wherein Tamils there are masters of their own destiny, but within a framework that ensured Lanka’s territorial integrity.
The PM made New Delhi’s stand clear after Jayalalithaa had asked the Centre to be pro-active to ensure that the 13th Amendment to the Lankan Constitution, providing for provincial autonomy, was neither scrapped nor diluted. In her letter to the PM on July 14, she had urged the Centre to rein in Colombo from taking steps to dilute or repeal the 13th Amendment. She also requested New Delhi to ensure that the process of democratic decentralisation, which is integral to the survival of Tamils in Sri Lanka, was in no way jeopardised but rather eventually leads to the Tamils of Lanka realising their legitimate aspirations.
“There is absolutely no change in the government of India’s stand on the question of reconciliation and devolution of political powers in Sri Lanka. We have long advocated the creation of an environment in Sri Lanka in which all communities, particularly the Sri Lankan Tamils, are masters of their own destiny within the framework of a united Sri Lanka. We will continue to work towards this end,” Manmohan said. This assumes significance in the context of Lanka dragging a political settlement of the Tamil question long after the decimation of the LTTE. Of late, New Delhi has reminded Colombo of the need to address genuine devolution citing Lankan premier Mahinda Rajapaksa’s earlier announcement of going beyond the 13th Amendment.