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Manmohan Singh assures of unchanged country's policy

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Published on: Thu, 25 Jul 2013 at 06:23 IST
Manmohan Singh assures of unchanged country's policy
Chennai: Manmohan Singh has assured that there is no change in the country's policy regarding "reconciliation and devolution of political powers in Sri Lanka", said a letter which the prime minister wrote to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.

Singh said in the July 16 letter, "There is absolutely no change in 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," he added in the letter's text distributed to the media here on Thursday.

Manmohan Singh was replying to Jayalalithaa's letter on July 14 in which she had urged the former to exert pressure so the Sri Lankan government did not repeal or dilute a constitutional provision (13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution), ensuring autonomy to provinces and minorities.

Jayalalithaa also requested the central government to ensure the process of democratic decentralisation, integral to the survival of Tamils in Sri Lanka, was not jeopardised.

She added this should eventually lead to Tamils of Sri Lanka realising their legitimate aspirations.

The 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan constitution was done when India deployed troops in Sri Lanka's northeast in 1987-90 to end Tamil separatism by devolving powers to the provinces, and thereby provide autonomy to Tamils who populate the north.

But the regime of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has threatened to dilute its provisions, causing dismay in India.

"There are disturbing signs that the Sri Lankan government is not serious about rehabilitating and restoring the lives of the Tamil minority," Jayalalithaa had written to the prime minister.

Referring to Rajapaksa's announcement to set up a parliamentary select committee to review the 13th amendment, Jayalalithaa said the worst fears regarding the Colombo government were coming true.

"The hawkish Sinhalese rightwing groups have been resorting to agitations and protests to pressure the government to repeal the 13th amendment prior to election to the northern provincial council proposed in September."

In her letter, Jayalalithaa said Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had called for the repeal of the 13th amendment.
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