Home India News Rajapaksa in the dark about Indian prisoners: Tamil MP

Rajapaksa in the dark about Indian prisoners: Tamil MP


New Delhi : MPs from Tamil Nadu who visited Colombo said Monday that President Mahinda Rajapaksa was unaware of Indian prisoners in Sri Lankan jails when they raised the subject with him.

DMK MP T.K.S. Elangovan said both Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother-cum-senior adviser Basil Rajapaksa expressed ignorance when the MPs brought up the subject of around 40 Indian prisoners.

“The president and Basil Rajapaksa do not seem to have got any communication from India about the prisoners. They even didn’t know about the issue till we raised it,” Elangovan, one of the 10 MPs, told IANS.

Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka allege that Indian officials are not bothered about their plight.

One of them told IANS that some of them had spent as many as 16 years in captivity and added that Indian authorities were making no efforts to get them released.

According to this prisoner, there are 43 Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka – 28 at Wellikade, 10 in Ngombo and five in Anuradhapura. The convicts are mostly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala and were allegedly involved in various incidents of crime.

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor had said in August that New Delhi was in talks with Colombo to bring back the Indians languishing in prisons.

“On Indians in Sri Lankan jails, we are talking to Sri Lanka about a possible agreement to exchange prisoners. (It) will take time,” Tharoor tweeted Aug 14.

Elangovan said: “If they (external affairs ministry) had written a letter or opened any other channel, the Sri Lankan president’s office would have noticed it.”

He said when the matter came up for discussion, Rajapakse asked his officials to provide details.

“But his office (too) was not aware of India’s demand,” Elangovan said, hours before leaving for New York to attend the UN General Assembly meeting.

He said Mahinda Rajapaksa was “very much positive” over the prisoners and appeared to be willing to repatriate them.

India should take up the matter “properly” with the Sri Lankan authorities, said Elangovan, a member of Lok Sabha Committee on External Affairs.

“We are going to write to the external affairs ministry about the prisoners,” the veteran DMK leader said.

Former central minister T.R. Baalu, who led the delegation, said “the government of India will have to pursue the matter” as there were people who had completed 16 long years in jails in Sri Lanka.

“The ministry will have to work on it,” Baalu told IANS on telephone from Chennai.