NEW DELHI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Sunday asked the Union government not to allow Sri Lanka to repeal or dilute the 13th amendment to its Constitution.
In her letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa said, “The Union government should ensure that the process of democratic decentralization, which is integral to the survival of the Tamils in Lanka, is in no way jeopardized. This should eventually lead to the Tamils of Sri Lanka realizing their legitimate aspirations.’’
The Tamil Nadu chief minister said, “In the present turn of events, when the Sri Lankan government is acting with impunity to take away even the limited political rights available to the Tamils, I strongly urge the government of India to take all possible steps to bring pressure to bear upon the Sri Lankan government not to take any steps to repeal or even dilute the 13th amendment in any manner.”
Jayalalithaa said, “I hope that the India, as a leader in the region and as a champion of human rights and democracy, will decisively take a bold stand in support of the much discriminated against and long suffering Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka.”
The 13th amendment introduced provincial councils with special powers in Sri Lanka, as per the provisions of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan Accord.
But Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajpaksha says a small nation like Sri Lanka has problems when it comes to devolving police, security and land powers to provinces. His government last month set up the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) to discuss all issues related to implementation of the 13th amendment.
But the government’s intention become suspect as all the 19 members of the PSC are from the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance that is led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
However, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Tamil groups from Tamil-speaking northern Sri Lanka is boycotting the PSC, and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), an ally of the ruling alliance, is also opposed to it.
Members of the PSC held their first meeting on Tuesday, and would meet again on July 26.
Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, who met the top Sri Lanka leaders last week in Colombo, also conveyed New Delhi’s firm message on the 13th amendment.
“We have made our views clear on how we would like to see much more positive and forward movement towards reconciliation and a political resolution of the various issues which have led to ethnic politics being so polarised and fragmented in Sri Lanka in the past, ‘’ Menon said after his meeting with the Sri Lankan president.