India hasn’t demanded halting war against LTTE: Rajapaksa


Colombo : Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa Tuesday asserted that there was no demand from the Indian government to halt the military campaign against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the northern part of the island.

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Rajapaksa made the statement while addressing Sri Lankan media heads and editors at his heavily-guarded official residence Temple Trees.

“In response to a question, President Rajapaksa said that in the telephone conversation with the Indian Prime Minister (on Saturday) there was no reference to the stopping of military operations against the terrorism of the LTTE. He (the President) had made it very clear that the operations were against the LTTE,” a statement from the president’s office said.

Rajapaksa’s statement comes at a time when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, at an all-party meeting in Chennai last week, said that all 40 MPs from the state would resign if India did not intervene by Oct 29 to stop the “genocide” against Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Fifteen MPs, including two central ministers, as also Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, have already submitted post-dated resignation letters to the chief minister.

However, Rajapaksa has told local media heads and editors that he “was aware of the political pressures in India at the moment, especially considering the reality of coalition politics and the diverse interests that surface in such situations”.

“President Rajapaksa said that the friendly relations between Sri Lanka and India remain very strong. India had always helped us when necessary and supported us in international fora,” the statement from his office said.

Claiming that it was the “primary responsibility” of his government to look after all the citizens, Rajapaksa said that he carries out “this responsibility to the fullest especially with regard to the people who are temporarily displaced in the north, due to the ongoing military operations to defeat terrorism.”

“There is a wrong impression created in Tamil Nadu that this not been done. This is furthest from the correct position. All these are our citizens and we take every measure to look after and provide for them,” the president was quoted as saying.

Addressing the meeting, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said: “The recent developments in Tamil Nadu and the recent activities there did not reflect the policies of New Delhi.

“The message of New Delhi has been that it stands for the rights of the Tamil people and against the LTTE,” he added.

Bogollagama has invited Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to visit Colombo to discuss the situation in the northern part of the island.

Renegade rebel leader Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan, known as Karuna Amman, who now heads the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) said at the meeting, that the support of the people in Tamil Nadu to the Tamil people in the north “should not” become support for the LTTE.

“Mr. Muralitharan (who was recently appointed as a government MP) added that the military operations in the Wanni could not be stopped immediately. With his own experience in fighting, it was his understanding that India could not bring an immediate stop to the fighting in Kargil (in Jammu and Kashmir when Pakistani troops intruded into the area in 1999),” the president’s office statement said.