Indian official refuses to be drawn

[TamilNet, Thursday, 14 May 1998, 23:59 GMT]
Mr. R K Sachdeva, Political Officer, Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, said that the Indian Government was prepared to assist in the rehabilitation of the war torn areas and contribute to improving the health and education services in Jaffna, but declined to comment on whether India would play an active role in bringing about a settlement to the ethnic conflict, said sources in Jaffna.

He was speaking at Navalar Hall in the Jaffna town, where a special meeting had been arranged to appraise Mr. Sachdeva of the situation in Jaffna.

Members of Parliament and members of local bodies in the Jaffna District, as well as senior bureaucrats were present at this meeting.

S. Subathran, (Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front - EPRLF) stated that India should intervene to bring about a settlement of the ethnic conflict.

It had the authority to do so under the Indo-Lanka Accord, he said, adding that if there was no settlement, there would be no development.

K. Balanadarajah (EPRLF) said that India should not dwell only on the negative aspects of its involvement in Sri Lanka. When the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) arrived in Sri Lanka they were welcomed with joy, he said.

K. Kirubharajah, (People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam - PLOTE), the leader of the opposition in the Jaffna Municipal Council (JMC) said that the meeting had not followed the correct procedure and speakers had spoken at random.

But he too underscored the fact that a political solution was imperative.

V. Vijayaratnam said that the Sri Lanka Government (SLG) had held a pointless election and now the members of local bodies had unwanted problems on their hands.

Everything, including schools, hospitals and local government buildings were under Sri Lanka Army (SLA) control he said.

He said that under such conditions, the local bodies could not function effectively. He also said that he was prepared to resign his seat in the Pt. Pedro Urban Council in protest. His words were met by appreciative applause, said sources.

Sarojini Yogeswaran, Mayor of Jaffna, said that economic development was not as important as a solution to the ethnic conflict.

But the solution should meet the aspirations of the Tamil people such as the merger of the north and east, she said.

The settlement should not seem imposed from above, she said.

Mr. Sachdeva said that the Indian Government would help the rehabilitation of Jaffna and its health and education systems, but side-stepped answering questions about possible Indian roles in bringing about a political solution to the ethnic problem.


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