The Deccan Herald quoted CPM Member of Parliament T.K Rangarajan, who was part of the 15-member Indian Parliamentary delegation, as saying that in their interactions with leaders of all the Tamil political parties, “nobody demanded any separate Tamil Eelam”.
Significantly, even the seniormost Tamil leader R. Sampanthan had stressed the Tamils only sought an enduring political solution within the framework of a United Sri Lanka, the Marxist MP disclosed, according to the Deccan Herald.
“They (Tamil party leaders in Lanka) want India to facilitate a political solution within that framework,” Rangarajan added.
Rangarajan also said that in all areas they had visited including Jaffna, the epicenter of the Tamils struggle, Army presence in civilian areas and even minutely monitoring people’s movements including Temple rituals was a major concern among the Tamils.
However, “there are lots of genuine grievances of the Tamils that need to be urgently addressed”, including housing, school buildings, acute shortage of qualified teachers, and above all taking back the Army from civil administration and from civilian areas, Rangarajan said. They had conveyed all this to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakshe, he added.
Sri Lanka’s war against the LTTE that ended three years ago had eventually caused “35,000 war widows”, mostly Tamils and concentrated now in the Island’s Eastern Batticaloa area.
Rangarajan said that the Indian delegation was saddened by the fact that 13,000 of those widows were under 23 years of age.
In a bid to make both ends meet and help them return to a normal life, Rangarajan said under an Indian government initiative, 800 of the younger widows were selected initially for a multiple skills development programme in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra.