Shivshankar Menon, India’s National Security Advisor has urged Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa to go for early political settlement of the Tamil question and national reconciliation through a “meaningful” devolution of power so as to ensure that all Lankan citizens, including Tamils, lead a life marked by “equality, justice, dignity and self-respect.”
At a breakfast meeting with the Rajapaksa here on Tuesday, Menon told him about the need to adhere to commitments the Lankan government had made to India and the international community on finding a political settlement that would go beyond the 13th Amendment.
The reference was to Lanka’s ongoing bid to prune the 13th Amendment or jettison it altogether and replace it with a truncated devolution package.
It is India’s case that 13A is a part of the India-Lanka Accord of 1987 and that Lanka cannot tinker with it unilaterally.
The Indian NSA also expressed hope that elections to the Northern Provincial Council would be held in a “free, fair and credible” manner. The Northern Province is Tamil-speaking.
According to a Lankan government release, Rajapaksa explained to Menon the difficulty in devolving power over land and police to the provinces in a small country like Lanka, and urged the Indian official to persuade the Tamil National Alliance party not to boycott the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) set up to find a political settlement of the national question. The release said Menon had agreed that TNA should participate in the PSC.
Later, briefing resident Indian journalists, Menon said he made it “quite clear” to Rajapaksa that India would like to see “much more positive and forward movement” towards reconciliation and a political solution of issues, which in the past had fragmented the society there.