Choose your friends, ally DMK tells government over Lanka policy

Choose your friends, ally DMK tells government over Lanka policy

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New Delhi:  The Congress' biggest ally, the DMK, today said it had lost faith in the government as it joined opposition parties in demanding that India make its stand clear on alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan government against Tamils in that country. In a strong statement, the Tamil Nadu party asked the government it participates in to decide whether it wants to be friends with Sri Lanka or then "with your brethren" in south India.

It also staged a walkout along with rival, the AIADMK, and the Left to reject External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid's answer to the debate. Mr Khurshid said while the government shared the concern of the parties from Tamil Nadu, India would not intervene directly in Sri Lanka's sovereign affairs. The minister said "accountability must come from within Sri Lanka", but remained evasive on the position New Delhi will take at the UN on a resolution against Colombo.

Mr Khurshid also said that, "we may have anguish, we may have anger but we should not be saying Sri Lanka is an enemy country;" he was referring to AIADMK leader V Maitreyan's statement that, "as far as we Tamils are concerned, Sri Lanka is an enemy country." He also promised that when the government did take a position on the matter it would do so keeping today's debate in mind. 

Mr Maitreyan, who opened the discussion, demanded that India move a single-line resolution at a UN meet in Geneva next month over what he called the "Sri Lankan Army's genocide." He said, "It is time the Lanka-centric approach of the external affairs ministry is changed to a Tamil welfare-centric approach," and taunted the DMK for failing to pressure the UPA government into action.

The DMK too wants India to back a resolution in the UN against Sri Lanka and has asked the government not to allow Sri Lankan president M Rajapakse into India. An angry DMK member Tiruchi Siva said in the Rajya Sabha, "Whether you want to have friendly relations with Sri Lanka or with your brethren in the South, decide yourself," adding, "Children are without limbs, women are losing what they should not."

Mr Siva had brought with him photographs of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran's 12-year-old son that have been released by British media recently, purportedly showing the child in the Sri Lanka Army's custody before he was shot dead, allegedly in cold blood, in 2009 as the army crushed the LTTE rebellion.

Rajya Sabha members across various parties have demanded an independent, credible investigation into how the child was killed. Mr Khurshid said India cannot "adjudicate" about the truth behind the incident and apportion responsibility on anybody for the "very moving, very tragic, very sad" incident.

The Left and the BJP too sought that India take a tough stand against Sri Lanka. "I urge upon the government to play a proactive role in Sri Lanka and vote against them if the situation demands so. India should demand an impartial international investigation into the war crimes committed against the Tamils," the CPI's D Raja said.

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