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PM in Jaffna, asks Lanka to respect all its citizens

PM in Jaffna, asks Lanka  to respect all its citizens
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Winding up his public engagements on his two-day trip to the island with a hugely-symbolic visit to Tamil-dominated Jaffna, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, he said he was glad that it “is one to wipe tears from the eyes of those who suffered”.

The Prime Minister, who is also the second international leader to visit the region after Premier David Cameron in 2013, handed over 27,000 new homes to Tamils who became homeless during the civil war. Modi’s visit came a day after he had met President Maithripala Sirisena in Colombo and favoured a life of equality, justice, peace and dignity in a unified Sri Lanka. Laying the foundation on Saturday for a Cultural Centre being built there by India, Modi said: “Sri Lanka should also progress. Unity, peace and amity are essential ingredients for equitable development, where there is respect for all citizens.”

Northern Province Chief Minister and Tamil leader C V Wigneswaran, who was present at the event, made a strong pitch for replacing the 13th Amendment with a more dynamic system of devolution of powers. “13th Amendment (to Sri Lankan Constitution) cannot be a final solution,” he said, noting that Modi himself is a proponent of devolution of powers and cooperative federalism.

Earlier, Modi flagged off a train service in the north-western town of Talaimannar — the closest point to India — restored after decades of civil war, completing the reconstruction of the entire Northern Province Railway Line. While asserting that India and Sri Lanka should move “boldly” to conclude a long pending Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), Modi said global confidence in India has been restored and the world’s engagement with the country is at a “new level” even as he assured Sri Lanka that steps would be taken to address its concerns over the huge bilateral trade imbalance.

Modi also offered prayers at the Naguleswaram Temple in Jaffna. “Feeling blessed,” he tweeted later. 

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