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Saturday, March 29, 2014 - 5.15 GMT

Abstention from voting in the best interest of Tamils - India


India yesterday its decision to abstained from US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC was driven by welfare of Tamils.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said India’s position on the UNHRC resolutions on Sri Lanka has always been consistent with its view that the process of national reconciliation must be expedited in a manner that meets aspirations of the Tamil community for a “life of equality, justice, peace and dignity within a united Sri Lanka”, PTI reported.

“We believe that our abstention yesterday is in the best interest of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and will assist us in our efforts to help them,” Singh said.

The Foreign Secretary said the decision was also in the interest of the fishermen community in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

“You would have seen the announcement by the government of Sri Lanka this morning of their decision to release all Indian fishermen in custody as a goodwill gesture. This is the first step towards a long-term solution to the fishermen’s issue,” she said.

Asserting that India always attached “highest priority” to the welfare and well-being of Tamils in Sri Lanka, she said the international community needs to work with Sri Lankan government in ensuring justice and progress for Tamils.

“We believe that our decision to abstain on the UNHRC resolution adopted yesterday would strengthen our hand in achieving our objective vis-a-vis the Tamil community of Sri Lanka,” she said.

The Foreign Secretary said India was of the view that the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009 provided a unique opportunity to pursue a lasting political settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

“We have acknowledged whatever progress has been made. We have also clearly indicated the areas where we expect progress to be made including on missing persons, detainees, reduction of ‘high security zones’, return of private lands by the military and withdrawal of security forces from the civilian domain in the Northern province,” she said.

Giving details of India’s assistance programme in Sri Lanka, she said it has extended assistance worth USD 1.3 billion in terms of loans and grants for various projects for the rehabilitation of internally-displaced people and reconstruction of infrastructure in the Northern and Eastern provinces in the island nation.

“India is undertaking its largest ever development assistance project in the world in Sri Lanka: the construction of 50,000 houses in the North, East and Central provinces worth Rs 1,372 crores.

“A pilot project of 1,000 houses was completed in August 2012 and construction of 43,000 houses under the ‘owner driven model’ commenced on 2 October 2012. More than 10,000 units were completed by the end of 2013. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2015-16,” she said.

The Foreign Secretary said India has been engaged in several other projects such as development of rail (Northern Railway project worth Rs 4000 crores) and port infrastructure, rehabilitation of runway at Palaly airport, setting up of hospitals and livelihood and employment generation projects.




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Last modified: March 29, 2014.

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