Tamil politicians want me to talk about fishermen: Khurshid

    By IANS,

    Colombo : External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid Wednesday said he found it “curious” how Tamil Nadu politicians were requesting him to intercede with Colombo on the release of Indian fishermen, while also demanding that India boycott the CHOGM.

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    “I find that a bit curious that people who don’t want us to go and want us to boycott are also saying while you are there, can you please talk to them and arrange something which is for us a desirable outcome,” Khurshid told reporters while on way to Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

    He said a large delegation from Tamil Nadu, including politicians and concerned people, had come to ask him to “use my good offices to get the Sri Lankan government not only to release the fishermen who are with them, but also to be generous and release the boats because these are very important livelihood matters”.

    The delegation had also urged that Khurshid persuade Sri Lanka to move forward on a date for having the fishermen representatives of the two sides to meet.

    Khurshid said he was going to Colombo as it was a multi-lateral event taking place in India’s neighbourhood.

    “Business as usual. I am not going there to argue with them. I am going there because this is a multilateral meeting taking place in the region close to India. They are committed to Commonwealth and that’s what we are going for. I think if we have a bilateral issue with them, we have bilateral meetings in which we can take up those issues but because I will be there, on the sidelines, if I have an opportunity, whatever we have been saying to them throughout, we will (do).”

    He also stressed that India has done “some outstanding work” for the Tamils of the Northern Province. This includes building 50,000 houses with 5,000 of them ready to to be handed over.

    “If we had an opportunity, our leader, the prime minister, could have gone to Jaffna. We have been building roads, we have been building infrastructure for them, community centres, we also engaged in giving Sri Lanka major power plant in Sampur at the railway line. I have not been told by anybody that this should not be done, that we should boycott these or we should not do anything for Sri Lanka, particularly for the Northern Province,” he said.

    Khurshid added that “it’s our duty to give whatever support we can continue to give for the success of the Northern Province, both economically and politically. And we remain committed to that and we expect the Sri Lankan government will also appreciate that this is just as much their success as it is ours.”

    On devolution of powers by Sri Lanka to the Provincial government in the North, he said: “Well, of course, we have a duty to push them to devolve powers, but they are not the only ones. In India, people are asking for devolution of powers… We have an Indo-Sri Lanka accord and I think that the accord gives us the entitlement to continue to persuade them, I can’t understand how we would say please devolve if we were not there.”