Millennium Post

India should take bold stand on issue of 13th Amendment: Jaya

Voicing concern over the fate of the 13th Amendment to Sri Lankan Constitution that agreed to devolve some authority to provinces, Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday called for a ‘bold stand’ by India, saying it cannot remain a ‘passive bystander.’

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she referred to the 27 March, 2013 resolution by the state assembly and reiterated her demand for the Centre moving a resolution in the United Nations Security Council for a referendum on ‘Tamil Ealam’ (homeland).

The 13th Amendment is part of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, whereby Colombo agreed to devolve some authority to provinces but that government had been giving indications of late that it may repeal it despite New Delhi’s concerns. Jayalalithaa told Singh that there were ‘disturbing signs’ about Sri Lankan government not being serious about Tamils’ rehabilitation, besides its attempts to dilute 13th Amendment.

She said ‘our worst fears’ on the intentions and motives of the present Sri Lankan regime have appeared to have come true, while referring to setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee by President Mahinda Rajapakse to review the 13th Amendment. ‘The hawkish Sinhalese right wing groups have been resorting to agitations and protests to pressure the Sri Lankan Government to repeal the 13th Amendment prior to the elections to the Northern Provincial Council proposed to be held in September later this year. In public statements, the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse has directly called for the repeal of the 13th Amendment,’ she said.

She said a delegation led by Sri Lankan Minister Basil Rajapakse had also met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, ‘presumably to justify their stand in this matter.’

Jayalalithaa said people of the state and elswehere are ‘justifiably alarmed’ over the move and charged the Lankan government with never being serious about genuine devolution of powers. The merger of Northern and Eastern provinces into one administrative unit as contemplated in the accord was ‘dismantled’ by the Lankan Government in 2007, following an order of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court nullifying it, she said.

‘The demerger of the North Eastern Council has to be construed as a serious setback to the Indo Sri Lankan accord and, perhaps, as a sinister first step leading to the eventual abrogation and repeal of the 13th Amendment, which has starkly appeared on the agenda now,’ she said.

Jayalalithaa said India cannot afford to be a ‘passive bystander at this juncture,’ saying, ‘we have a commitment to protect the life and liberties of Tamils in Sri Lanka, whose distinct identity and cultural presence in Sri Lanka, particularly in the Northern and Eastern regions, was the guiding principle behind the accord.
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