Take care of Tamils, India tells Sri Lanka


New Delhi : India Sunday urged the Sri Lankan government to take care of the thousands of Tamil civilians caught up in the war between the military and the Tamil Tigers. Addressing thousands of Congress activists here, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said India had no sympathy for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which he described as a terrorist organisation.

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“Almost 200,000 civilian Tamil population is caught up in the crossfire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan troops,” he said. “I appeal to the Sri Lankan government to provide them shelter, food and security.”

Mukherjee’s reference is to the mass of Tamil men, women and children concentrated in Sri Lanka’s Mullaitivu district where troops have cornered the LTTE guerrillas in less than 200 sq km area.

The Congress leader appealed to politicians in Tamil Nadu, which has witnessed mass protests in support of a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, to “make a distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil civilian population”.

The minister also asked Colombo to implement the provisions of the 1987 accord with India related to devolution of powers to the provinces.

“We don’t support the LTTE, we have no sympathy with the LTTE, it is a terrorist organisation,” he said.

Referring to Pakistan, he said that “terrorism … has no respect for religion and national boundaries. Every religion speaks of love, compassion and brotherhood, Islam more so”.

Without referring to Islamabad by name, he asked “our neighbouring country” to ensure that its territory is not used for terrorist activities.”

He said terrorism “would be confronted, and confronted with courage”. He added that “all options are open” in the fight against terrorism and that the “perpetrators of terrorist activities should be brought to justice”.

India has blamed Pakistani terrorists for the attacks in Mumbai last month that left some 170 people dead, including several foreigners.