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Amid Sri Lanka heat, Indian envoy to Geneva called

New Delhi, March 18, 2013 (IANS):
Students' during a protests against Srilanka for alleged human rights violations in Chennai on Monday. PTI Photo

India Monday asked its envoy in Geneva to return for consultations on the US resolution on Sri Lanka as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa told New Delhi to take a tough stand against Colombo and the UPA tried to placate DMK leader M. Karunanidhi.

Dilip Sinha, ambassador and permanent representative of India to the UN in Geneva, will be here Tuesday to brief the government on the resolution, external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here.

The issue has gained urgency with political parties and activists in Tamil Nadu urging the government to back the resolution -- like last year -- and even amend it to denounce Colombo for the "genocide" of Tamils.

The resolution is expected to come up for voting at the 47-member UNHRC session in Geneva March 21.

Sentiments are running high against Sri Lanka in Tamil Nadu, where large numbers of students have taken to the streets denouncing the death of Tamil civilians in the war against the Tamil Tigers.

Authorities have been forced to shut many colleges and hostels. A Buddhist monk was Monday attacked by Tamil activists at a railway station in Chennai before police rescued him.

The foreign ministry spokesman said the resolution "in the final form will be available late this evening, Geneva time".  "We will have consultations on the matter, and he (Indian envoy to Geneva) will be able to brief senior officials on the ground level realities in Geneva and the latest position," he added.

Asked what position India was likely to take on the resolution, the spokesperson said a call would be taken after the final text was available and the arrival of the ambassador from Geneva.

Asked if New Delhi favoured the word "genocide", he said the government would "cross the bridge when we come to it".

With the DMK, which has 18 MPs, threatening to end its support to the United Progressive Alliance if India remained soft vis-a-vis Sri Lanka, the government sent three senior ministers to Chennai to meet Karunanidhi.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad met Karunanidhi in Chennai.

A decision on the Sri Lanka resolution will be taken after that, he said. Karunanidhi wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi Saturday saying Colombo should be specifically blamed for the "genocide" of Tamils during the war against the Tamil Tigers. Karunanidhi also called for an international probe into allegations of war crimes against the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka is under attack over the death of a large number of Tamil civilians during the final stages of the war that crushed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009. There are also issues related to continued rights abuses in the island nation.

In Chennai, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Monday demanded that India take a "strong stand" against Sri Lanka at Geneva. She urged Manmohan Singh that India should move an independent resolution to strengthen the earlier US resolution.

"To assuage the legitimate sense of outrage and deeply hurt sentiments (of Tamils), it is absolutely important that India takes a strong stand in support ... and more importantly moves necessary independent amendments to further strengthen the resolution," she said.

India voted against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC meet last year but after moderating the US resolution to axe aspects that were seen as intrusive in Colombo.


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