Indian parliament debates Sri Lankan issue

The Indian Lok Sabha today had a heated debate on the Sri Lankan issue with both opposition and government members exchanging views and raising concerns.

The Indian opposition called on the Indian government to push for a political solution in Sri Lanka and urge the government to adress human rights concerns.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid refused to spell out the Indian government’s stand on the upcoming UN rights panel vote on Sri Lanka but said it would take into consideration parliamentarians’ views on the issue.

Not satisfied with the minister’s response, members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and AIADMK, DMK and MDMK walked out of the Lok Sabha where Khurshid was replying to a short duration discussion on the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils.

The Congress Party said that Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has made it very clear that any reports that come of violation of human rights is something that needs to be condemned.

Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Ministry are constantly in touch with the Sri Lankan Government to ensure that rights of the Tamils enshrined both in their constitution and various agreements are followed through.

BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said India should caution other neighbours against interfering in the Sri Lankan affairs or Indo-Sri Lankan relations.

“Let India not merely vote … in the UNHRC but take the lead in drafting the resolution and carry it through the UNHRC,” said Sinha, a former external affairs minister. “Foreign policy is not conducted out of fear but with confidence and elan,” he said, while noting that India has a lot of clout but seems that have lost momentum.

He wanted to know what happened to India’s “stature” and hoped that the government would wake up. Sinha said an impartial inquiry should be held into the “genocide” carried out against Sri Lankan Tamils and there should be a clear commitment from that government that guilty shall be punished.

Initiating the discussion, DMK leader T R Baalu, whose party is a key constituent of the ruling UPA, wanted the government to ensure passage of the UN resolution to fix accountability for the war crimes. Demanding that the guilty of the Sri Lankan war crimes be taken to the International Court of Justice to “give some solace to the victims”, he said India should not be “lukewarm” but have a clear-cut approach on the issue at the UN. (Agencies)