Sri Lankan ‘rights violations' issue rocks Parliament
Mar 14, 2012 03:27 AM , By J. Balaji
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks to the media at Parliament House on the first day of the Budget Session. File photo
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee speaks to the media at Parliament House on the first day of the Budget Session. File photo
MPs want India to vote for U.S.-sponsored resolution in Geneva

The functioning of both Houses of Parliament was disrupted on Tuesday, when members cutting across party lines vociferously demanded that India support the resolution to be moved by the U.S., France and Norway against Sri Lanka in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) at Geneva.

The resolution wants those guilty of “human rights violations” in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to be brought to book.

Parliament had the issue taken up by members for the second consecutive day (on Monday too slogans were raised during the President's address), even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote a letter to M. Karunanidhi, president of the DMK, a major ally of the UPA, stating that the government of India was “engaged with all parties in an effort to achieve an outcome that is forward looking and that ensures that rather than deepening confrontation and mistrust between the concerned parties, a way forward is found on issues related to accountability and reconciliation.”

Earlier, in the Lok Sabha, immediately after the House assembled, DMK's parliamentary party leader T.R. Baalu, supported by his party colleagues, took up the issue. Some members of the AIADMK, CPI and CPI (M) too were on their feet wanting to speak. The former Union Textiles Minister, Dayanidhi Maran (DMK), was seen waving a placard in support of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

Intervening, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherejee said “the issue of violation of human rights by Sri Lanka” was a concern of the international community and India was fully aware of the sensitivity of the issue.

The Centre had already explained its position in detail through individual letters to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Mr. Karunanidhi.

“First of all, the date has not yet been fixed [for the UNHRC meeting] and the traditional position of India has all along been — not only in respect of this case — that we normally do not support any country-specific Resolution.”

But India's view on the issue would be decided as and when the date was finalised for the UNHRC meeting. If MPs want any further clarification or detailed explanation on the subject, he would request External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna to make a brief statement, Mr. Mukherjee said.

In the Rajya Sabha, as the House met for the day, members rushed to the well, raising the issue. Later Chairman Hamid Ansari allowed AIADMK member V. Maitreyan, Tiruchi Siva (DMK), M. Venkaiah Naidu (BJP), T.K. Rangarajan (CPI-M), D. Raja (CPI) and B.S. Gnanadesikan (Congress) to speak.

Intervening, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal gave assurances but that did not calm the members, who wanted a clarification from Dr. Singh. Amid the din, Dr. Ansari adjourned the House till noon. The pandemonium continued at noon too necessitating two more adjournments and finally the House was adjourned for the day.

Earlier Mr. Bansal said India's meticulous adherence and respect for human rights was respected the world over.

Meanwhile, Dr. Singh, in his letter to Mr. Karunanidhi, a copy of which was released by the DMK in Chennai, said India had urged Sri Lanka to put in place a process of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction (of Tamils there).

India's objective, as always, remains the achievement of a future for the Tamil community in Sri Lanka marked by equality, dignity, justice and self-respect.

New Delhi had emphasised to Colombo the importance of a genuine process of reconciliation to address the grievances of the Tamils, he said, adding that New Delhi welcomed the report of the Sri Lankan Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Committee (LLRC). India believed implementation of the LLRC recommendations would contribute to the process of reconciliation.


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