India shifts stand on Sri Lanka

A Correspondent in Delhi | February 12, 2009 19:48 IST

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India has mended its stand on Sri Lanka [Images], no longer insisting that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam should lay down arms as a pre-condition for talks with the government in Colombo for a political settlement.

Instead of asking the LTTE [Images] to lay down the arms, India now wants it to at least agree in principle to lay down the arms as that can pave the way for negotiations with the Sri Lankan government.

The subtle change in India's stand was reflected in President Pratibha Patil's address to Parliament in New Delhi [Images] on Thursday when she said both the sides can return to the negotiating table if simultaneously the government of Sri Lanka suspends its military operations and the LTTE declares its willingness to lay down arms.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazagam and other political parties have been protesting at what they see as the government of India taking the side of the Sri Lankan government in asking the LTTE to first lay down the arms before any negotiations.

Notwithstanding the government changing this stand, two Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagam Members of Parliament -- Krishnan and Ravindran -- interrupted the President's address to protest at India not pressurising the Lankan government to stop the massacre of the Tamils in the island nation, as they say that  just expressing concern over the plight of the civilian Tamils was not enough.

The Tamil Nadu parties have been demanding that the government of India should intervene to put in check the Sri Lankan government's killing the innocent Tamils. They advocate that India should even intervene militarily if the killings of Tamils does not stop.

On Friday, the MDMK supremo Vaiko is staging a day's fast in Delhi at Jantar Mantar, to highlight the plight of the Tamils suffering at the ends of the Sri Lankan government and demand India's effective intervention.

The fast will be joined by over 1,000 MDMK officials and cadres arriving in New Delhi from Tamil Nadu to join their leader in expressing solidarity towards the Sri Lankan Tamils.