All are equal

India has sought devolution of powers by the Sri Lankan government to the minority Tamils in the island nation and hoped that their aspirations for equality, justice and respect will be fulfilled as per provisions of the country’s Constitution.

After wide-ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the issue was discussed with an ‘open mind’ and hoped that the Tamil reconciliation process would be taken forward by Colombo.

The two leaders also deliberated on a raft of key issues like bolstering anti-terror cooperation, expansion of trade and investment ties, implementation of joint projects in Sri Lanka and resolving the long-festering fishermen issue with a ”humane approach”.

In his comments, Rajapaksa thanked Modi for his government’s ”neighbourhood first policy” and the priority he attaches to ties with Sri Lanka. Rajapaksa’s five-day visit to India assumes significance as his tenure as Sri Lanka’s President from 2005 to 2016 saw expansion of China’s footprints in the Indian Ocean island nation, triggering concerns in India. Noting that India has been a ‘trusted partner’ in Sri Lanka’s development, Modi said stability, security and prosperity in the island nation is important for India as well as for the entire Indian Ocean region. On the long-pending Tamil issue, Modi said it will be necessary to implement the 13th amendment of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

The 13th amendment provides for devolution of power to Tamil community in the neighbouring country.

”We held a discussion with an open mind on issues relating to reconciliation in Sri Lanka. I am confident that the government of Sri Lanka will fulfil the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, and respect within a United Sri Lanka,” Modi said.

”It will be necessary to implement the 13th amendment of (Sri Lankan) Constitution and take forward the reconciliation process at the same time,” he said.

India has been pressing Sri Lanka to implement the 13th amendment which was brought in after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987 which envisaged devolution of powers to the Tamils. Let us hope it will be done soon.

NT Bureau