New Delhi: Congress on Wednesday called upon Sri Lanka to declare a ceasefire so that the humanitarian crisis in the island nation can be resolved in a demonstrable way.
“The Indian National Congress reiterates its firm belief that the solution to the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka will only be possible through democratic and political means and not through military campaigns.
“The INC also calls upon the Lankan government to declare a ceasefire so that the humanitarian crisis can be resolved in a demonstrable way,” the party said in a statement.
With the crisis deepening, Congress said it calls upon the Lankan government to “ensure in every possible way, the safety and security of the Tamil-speaking population, especially in areas where its security forces are battling the LTTE”.
The party said it was “deeply pained” at the deteriorating humanitarian situation with thousands of innocent Tamil men, women and children stranded and caught in a cross-fire.
“The INC has always advocated the fulfilment of the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil speaking minority in Sri Lanka within the framework of a united and federal Sri Lanka,” the statement said.
Referring to the India-Sri Lanka peace accord of 1987, Congress said the blueprint for a solution had been worked out by the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Party spokesman Anand Sharma said India has taken the situation in Sri Lanka seriously and was watching it minutely.
“We have been deeply concerned on the evolving situation in Sri Lanka, particularly the humanitarian issue, which is grim,” Sharma, who is also the minister of state for external affairs, said at the AICC briefing.
He said the Government of India has impressed upon the government in the neighbouring country to create conditions so that the civilian population can move to the safer zones.
“We are extending all possible humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” said Sharma, referring to the medical help by team of doctors from the armed forces and sending of 60,000 kits for the people. He said 40,000 more kits, containing relief material, would be send anytime now.
Sharma also said it would be a “big mistake” to equate the civil Tamil population with the LTTE.
“LTTE remains a banned and proscribed organisation,” he said.
To a query whether there was any scope for negotiations (with the LTTE) to end the crisis, Sharma, ruling out any such possibility, said, “We are very clear about our position. It remains a banned and proscribed organisation.”
The party spokesman said that he hoped the civilian population gets all assistance and “their aspirations met in a democratic and constitutional manner”.
Asked whether the international community will take interest in the issue, Sharma said he would not like to comment on it. He, however, said India and international agencies are providing humanitarian help.