Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Epoch Making Year for Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka ushered in a new era of peace in 2009 with the annihilation of LTTE and the death of its megalomaniac chief Velupillai Prabhakaran, whose pursuit for 'Tamil Eelam' claimed the lives of over 70,000 people in three decades.

For India, it was a tight rope walk as it quickly stepped in after the end of the civil war by announcing a Rs 500 crore package to Sri Lanka for rehabilitation and resettlement of nearly 3 lakh displaced Tamil civilians.

New Delhi also told Colombo to quickly follow up the military victory with a political solution to integrate the Tamil minority into the mainstream.

The military win over LTTE came as a shot in the arm for President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who gave a free run to the Army to take on the terror group after he came to power in 2005, when one-third of Lankan land was held by the Tigers.

The victory prompted Rajapaksa to call Presidential polls nearly two years ahead of schedule apparently to cash in on the sentiments.

But, it will not be a cake walk for Rajapaksa as he is being challenged by another 'war hero' and former Army Chief Gen Sarath Fonseka, who is contesting as the common opposition candidate.

Fonseka resigned as Chief of Defence Staff, a ceremonial post to which he was appointed after the war, in November and jumped into the Presidential poll foray.

Votes of over three million Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims are considered crucial for Rajapaksa to continue in office for another six years.

The Tamil National Alliance, which has a considerable influence among Tamils, has not yet decided on its stand in the polls.

Though Sri Lanka has resettled nearly 2 lakh people in their towns and villages in the former LTTE-held areas in the island's north, reconstruction of the areas and rehabilitation of people are yet to begin.

The year gone-by was fruitful for Sri Lanka, which was grappling with the menace of terrorism since late 70s, as the troops began the year with the capture of Kilinochchi, the de-facto capital of the Tamil Tigers, on January 2.

This was the beginning of the end of the LTTE as it lost all its strongholds in the north-east in the next few months culminating in the death of all top leaders of the outfit, including Prabhakaran on May 18.

It ended the 30-year-old civil war that claimed the lives of 70,000 people and annihilated the LTTE, which had eliminated a number of high-profile Sri Lankan Sinhala and Tamil politicians, besides Rajiv Gandhi.

Just two days after the war ended, India sent two of its top officials -- National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and the then Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon -- to Colombo to assure Sri Lanka of its support in resettlement and rehabilitation process.

New Delhi has also impressed upon Sri Lanka a number of times to quickly follow up the military victory with a political solution that is acceptable to the minority Tamil community.

India has also promised help for Sri Lanka in railway projects and reviving agriculture in the former war zones.

A high-level Sri Lankan team consisting of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Presidential Adviser Basil Rajapaksa was in New Delhi twice to discuss the relief and rehabilitation process.

India also opposed a resolution in the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva demanding a probe against Sri Lanka into alleged human rights violation during the last phase of war.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured that the government will make every effort to resettle all Tamil IDPS by January 31.

India has indicated more funds for rehabilitation of the IDPs. It a had sent 2.5 lakh family packs consisting of dry ration, clothing, utensils and footwear from Tamil Nadu to displaced civilians since October 2008.

India will be sending three more de-mining teams even as four such teams are already there, as per the recommendation of the parliamentary delegation from Tamil Nadu which visited Sri Lanka in October.

© Outlook India

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1 comment:

Kennedie said...

I think India is doing great job. And according to me India is one of the country which is always ready to help people.
Army ration packs

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