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India consistently called upon Sri Lanka to protect interests of Tamils: Govt
India on Thursday said it has consistently called upon Sri Lanka to fulfil its commitments to protect the interests of the Tamil community and supported efforts to preserve the island nation's character as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
It is understood that some Tamil political parties based in Sri Lanka have sought an international probe into allegations of human rights abuses during the country's civil war, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said in a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
He said India had urged the government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the process of reconciliation and address the aspirations of the Tamil community.
"India has always supported efforts to preserve Sri Lanka's character as a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious society in which all citizens, including the Sri Lankan Tamil community, can live in equality, safety and harmony," the minister said.
He was replying to a number of questions, including on human rights abuses during the civil war in Sri Lanka.
"The government of India has consistently called upon Sri Lanka, during bilateral discussions at all levels, to fulfil its commitments on addressing the issues related to protecting the interests of Tamils in Sri Lanka," Muraleedharan said.
The Tamil community in the island nation has been demanding the implementation of the 13th amendment to the Constitution that provides for devolution of power to it. The 13th amendment was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987.
At the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), India stressed on its abiding commitment to the aspirations of the Tamils of Sri Lanka for equality, justice, peace and dignity, Muraleedharan said.
He said it was reiterated that respecting the rights of the Tamil community, including through meaningful devolution, would contribute to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka.
The minister did not give a direct reply to a question on whether India will initiate measures for an international probe as there is no scope for the domestic process to fix accountability against human rights abuses in that country.
Muraleedharan said India believes that delivering on the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil community is in the best interests of Sri Lanka.
"In addition, India also urged the government of Sri Lanka to carry forward the process of reconciliation, address the aspirations of the Tamil community and continue to engage constructively with the international community to ensure that the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all its citizens are fully protected," he said.