COLOMBO/ NEW DELHI: Two days ahead of his India visit, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena told the diplomatic community in Colombo that if the proposed Lankan domestic inquiry into alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (war crimes) were to find “credible and firm” evidence against anyone, legal action will be taken against that person.
Addressing concerns about the credibility of his government expressed by Tamils in Lanka and abroad, and also human rights groups across the globe, Sirisena said his government needs time to bring about unity and reconciliation as it had assumed office only a month ago. Specifically referring to the Tamils of the Northern Province, he said, “The doubts and mistrust that exists among people in the North should be eradicated.” Referring to the long-standing demand of the minority Tamils for the return of lands appropriated by the armed forces, he said 1,000 acres in the North are being returned, to begin with.
Meanwhile, Sirisena is expected to ask PM Narendra Modi to stop Indian trawlers from entering Lankan waters when he meets the latter in Delhi on February 16. The Lankan line on the fishing issue was discussed at a high-level meeting held in Colombo on Thursday, attended by President Sirisena, Northern Province Chief Minister CV Wigneswaran, Northern Province Governor HMGS Palihakkara, Eastern Province Governor Austin Fernando, Deputy Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene, Navy Commander Vice Adm Jayantha Perera and Northern Provincial Minister of Fisheries B Deniswaran.
A Delhi report said Sirisena will be arriving in the Indian capital on Sunday afternoon on his first trip abroad, during which India expects “substantial” talks including on reconciliation and reconstruction. “India’s ties with Sri Lanka are unique and based on historical, cultural and civilisational bonds,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbarudin said. “We are expecting substantial talks and outcomes during his visit,” he said. Sirisena will hold official talks with Modi and attend a banquet hosted in his honour by the president at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on February 16. Thereafter, he will be travelling to Bodh Gaya and Tirupati.