During his visit to Jaffna yesterday (2), Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) President, K. Annamalai stated that the emphasis by the Indian Government calling on the Sri Lankan Government to implement the 13A is an ‘authorised communication’ coming from Indian Prime Minister Modi and cannot be dismissed as ‘mere talks’.
He said this when the Tamil Media questioned Annamalai about the lack of pressure on
Sri Lanka over the execution of 13A, despite India’s constant mention of it. “We are continuing to have discussions along similar lines, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Jaishankar, as well as the Prime Minister of India, have all emphasised the importance of the 13A, and we hope eventually this would be implemented,” he continued.
He said he had met TNA members in the North mainly because the TNA on several occasions had visited Tamil Nadu and met politicians including from the BJP and had returned the gratitude when the latter came over to Sri Lanka. “That’s part of our tradition and culture” he said. “It’s a friendly gesture and moreover we are culturally and traditionally connected community”, he pointed out.
Concerning the dispute between fishermen from the North and Tamil Nadu, Annamalai stated that the issue should be viewed in terms of humanity, and that the exodus of Sri Lankan Tamils leaving in boats to Tamil Nadu due to the economic crisis has been considered on humanitarian grounds, and that they are being cared for by the Tamil Nadu government.
He stated that he saw the 12 Tamil Nadu fishermen who have been imprisoned in Jaffna for over 40 days and that they were not criminals, but rather fishermen who have been fishing in the waters around India and may have encroached on Sri Lankan waters. He claimed that they had not travelled to Sri Lanka to fish to be imprisoned and to lose their boats. It should also be viewed as a humanitarian gesture, given the country’s long history with Sri Lanka. Prior to 1974, there was space for Indian fisherman to fish around Katchchativu, but this was eventually cancelled, he said.
However, these fishermen have come to fish, and Sri Lankan fishermen have encroached on Indian waters, but these are all fisherman, and they are not criminals, so they must be treated with humanity.
“I’ve been a cop for ten years, and we can make ‘open-and-shut’ choices and follow hard and fast rules, but that doesn’t help the fishermen’s problem.” The Tamil Nadu fishermen have been slapped with huge penalties and had their boats confiscated in Sri Lanka, despite the fact that they are fathers and have children. We must act in a humane manner”, he said.
He also noted that after the war, the Indian Government constructed 46, 000 houses in the North, something that no country would do for another country.
Even when dry rations were sent from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka, the whole Tamil Nadu assembly agreed to support Sri Lanka, and the cargo will arrive shortly, he added.
Regarding the Sri Lankan Tamils living in Tamil Nadu, he stated that Stalin’s government is looking into ways to assist them. “We are in communication about their situation, and we hope to resolve all issues concerning Sri Lanka, including the economic crisis,” he continued.
He stated that the Indian government is caring for the 143, 000 Sri Lankan Tamils staying in the camp and that further assistance is being sought for them, and that those who make claims otherwise may just stay and make allegations, he added.
Pic by T. Pratheepan (Jaffna Corr.)
By Sulochana RAmiah Mohan