Indian official visits east
[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 November 1998, 11:47 GMT]
"The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka cannot be resolved without talking to the Liberation Tigers; they are the key players and main actors in the Tamil issue" said Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham MP of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) during discussions with Mr. C.V Thripathi, the first senior Indian official to visit the war torn Batticaloa district in ten years, this morning. Mr.Thripathi is India's new Deputy High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.
The senior Indian diplomat also called on Fr.Miller S.J in his office at St.Micheals College in Batticaloa town. The Jesuit catholic priest is an outspoken and leading human rights activist in the eastern district.
That the Deputy High Commissioner should have chosen to visit the war torn district, despite a week long power cut and regular skirmishes between the army and the Liberation Tigers so soon after assuming duties in Colombo is significant said an ex-Tamil militant leader this afternoon upon hearing about the surprise visit.
The Indian Deputy High Commissioner had detailed discussions with the Fr.Miller and with the TULF MP about human rights violations by the Sri Lankan army and the problems faced by the Tamils in the district, including those arising from SLA restrictions on fishing and farming.
He had agreed with Mr. Pararajasingham on the question of the hardships faced by Tamil civilians at army check points as he had seen the places himself on his way to Batticaloa said TULF sources in Batticaloa.
Speaking about the condition in the region the TULF MP had told Mr.Thripathi that the Liberation Tigers control 80 percent of the Batticaloa district and are strong enough to disrupt civil administration whenever they want to do so and that they can summon anyone at anytime to their offices.
Mr. Pararajasingham told the Indian diplomat further "The Liberation Tigers can paralyse the civil administration or run a parallel one as they please. So the ground reality is that you cannot settle the ethnic conflict without talking to them."
"It is very important that both the government and the opposition should cordially settle their disputes and focus their attention on the resolution of the conflict. They should talk to the Liberation Tigers with third party mediation which will be acceptable to the rebels as well."
The Indian diplomat had indicated that misunderstandings that may have arisen in the past over certain matters need not continue to cause concern to the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
Mr.C.V Thripathi was scheduled to meet the SLA commander of the district Brigadier Zacki later today.