Govt to move amendments to Lanka resolution

Government on Wednesday said it will move amendments to the US-backed resolution on Sri Lanka to send a "resolute message" to that country on alleged human rights violations of Tamils.

New Delhi: Signalling that it will take a tough position on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue at the UN, Government today said it will move amendments to the resolution to send a "resolute message" to that country on alleged human rights violations of Tamils.

The indication was given by Finance Minister P Chidambaram at a press conference as he rubbished as absolute "canard" media reports that India was working to dilute the strongly-worded resolution piloted by the US.

"India`s position has always been and remains that the UNHRC should adopt a strong resolution that would send a resolute message to Sri Lanka and goad Sri Lanka to accept an independent and credible investigation," Chidambaram said.

He said the government had begun the process of formulating amendments to the draft resolution before the UNHRC.

"The amendments were finalised yesterday," he said, adding India`s Permanent Representative to the UNHRC is in Delhi and he will be given "suitable instructions to move the amendments" at the UN meet.

However, there were no details available of what amendments were being moved by India to the resolution, which is expected to be taken up for voting on Friday.

The issue was discussed at a meeting held by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Chidambaram, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon, Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and India`s Permanent Representative at UN in Geneva Dilip Sinha.
DMK, which quit the UPA, had been pressing the government to ensure that the resolution was very strong with terms like "genocide" and "war crimes" being used while describing the human rights violation by Sri Lankan forces against ethnic Tamils particularly towards the end of the war in 2009.

Suggesting that the government would take a tough
position on the issue, Chidambaram referred to Congress President Sonia Gandhi`s statement yesterday at the Congress Parliamentary Party meeting.

"We are most pained at the manner in which their legitimate political rights continue to be denied to them. We are anguished by reports of unspeakable atrocities on innocent civilians and children, especially during the last days of the conflict in 2009.

"That is why we demand an independent and credible inquiry into the violation of human rights in Sri Lanka," she had said.

Chidambaram said DMK`s other demand for a resolution to be adopted by Parliament on Sri Lankan Tamils issue was also in the process of consultations with other parties.

Asked about specifics of this resolution, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said that its form will depend on the outcome of the all-party meeting and the suggestions given by everybody.

"A lot of us are working on it. When we make clear categorical progress, certainly we will share with the media. I will depend on all-party meeting and peoples` direction.

"I will hear with Kamal Nath when he is ready. My job may be to move the resolution but the decision has to be taken collectively. Once it is taken, then I will come into the picture," Khurshid told reporters outside Parliament.

Meanwhile UPA`s estranged ally Trinamool Congress sprang a surprise by promising to support the government on whatever stand it takes on Sri Lankan Tamils issue at the UNHRC.

"Our party is deeply concerned about sentiments expressed by the Tamil people. We share their sentiments and are completely with them," the party said in a tweet on its official account.

At the same time, the Trinamool Congress added, "On
matters of external policy, we have, from the beginning, always left it to central government in moments of crisis. We will do the same on this occasion."

The statement implied that the party will stand by whatever position the government takes with regard to the resolution on Sri Lanka at the UNHRC.

Chidambaram claimed that the DMK was aware of the government`s position on the issue but had changed its position between the night of March 18 and morning of March 19.

"We are not aware of the reasons why the DMK changed its position between the night of March 18 and the morning of March 19," Chidambaram said, while noting that DMK supremo M Karunanidhi had said the party would reconsider decision to withdraw support if Parliament adopts a resolution before the end of current sittings on March 22.