India feels Lanka has done very little on devolution of power

New Delhi, Mar.24 (ANI): India has said that it decided to vote in favour of the U.S.-sponsored UN Human Rights Council resolution against Sri Lanka on the alleged war crimes issue, because it felt Colombo has done very little on devolving political power to Sri Lankan Tamils.

Sources said that New Delhi believes there is a dichotomy prevailing in Sri Lanka i.e. that on the one hand, Sri Lanka has done a great deal for rehabilitating Tamils, but has done very little in terms of transferring political powers to the Lankan Tamil community.

The sources were further quoted, as saying that India believes that its vote has given thrust to its objectives and commitment towards ensuring the welfare of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

They said that New Delhi feels that Tamils and other communities in Sri Lanka should feel that they have their destinies in their own hands. They should be comfortable.

Earlier this week, India worked behind the scenes to tone down the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN while ensuring dignity for ethnic Tamils, an act Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said was in line with the government's stand.

Singh said India wanted to ensure that concern was expressed to enable minority Tamils in that country to get justice while there was no infringement on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka.

"One has to weigh pros and cons. What we did was in line with our stand on Sri Lanka. We do not want to infringe on the sovereignty of Sri Lanka but concerns should be expressed so that Tamil people can get justice and lead a life of dignity," the Prime Minister told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

He was responding to a question on India voting in favour of the US-sponsored resolution that censures Sri Lanka on alleged human rights violations during the war against LTTE.

Sources said India persuaded the United States to remove certain references that were "intrusive" in the functioning of a sovereign country like Sri Lanka.

New Delhi also insisted that the resolution contributed to the political reconciliation process in the island nation.

At India's instance, a paragraph that said 'recalling Council resolutions 5/1 and 5/2 on institution building of the Human Rights Council' was added to the resolution, the sources said.

The other change was in reference to the wording of the last para of the resolution that speaks of providing advice and technical assistance on implementing the steps suggested in the resolution.

The amendment makes it clear that the advice and technical assistance would be provided "in consultation with and with the concurrence of" the government of Sri Lanka that made the resolution "non-intrusive", the sources said.

"We were very particular that we cannot accept (original resolution). We told the sponsor that the assistance should be given with the consultation and concurrence of the government. We also made sure that it is restricted only to assistance and not a monitoring mechanism," they said.

The sources noted that India played a major role in the 2009 May resolution in UNHRC, which was also accepted by Sri Lanka.

"We had got into a situation that there should a political settlement i.e. the LLRC (Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission) process. We had always considered that was the solution. We thought this (resolution) was contributing to political reconciliation process. This has determined our support," they said.

The sources said the resolution was "non-judgemental" one and India is of the opinion that Sri Lanka should be given time and space to achieve political reconciliation.

To questions on whether India's vote in favour of the resolution would affect its ties with Sri Lanka, they said the ties between the two countries were thousands of years old.

"We have a very close engagement with the Government of Sri Lanka they understand the spirit under which we approached the issue. We don't see any contradictions we have made. We have been seeking constructive reconciliation process," the sources said.

They said Sri Lanka should bring about genuine political reconciliation in a "credible" and "time-bound" manner.

The sources also made it clear that it would continue to take up the issues bilaterally with Sri Lanka.

Explaining its position on its vote for the resolution, India said it believes the primary responsibility for promotion and protection of human rights lies with the states.

India voted in favour of the resolution along with 23 other countries while 15 countries voted against it.

Sri Lanka reacted in a hot and cold manner against India following the passage of a resolution in Geneva that raised questions over rights violations during the war on the Tamil Tigers.

While President Mahinda Rajapaksa warned that countries that voted for the resolution will have to worry about consequences of terrorism, a minister mildly praised India for dilution of the impact of the resolution.

Lankapage.com quoted Rajapaksa as saying that "no external forces will be allowed to threaten the country's sovereignty".

He asked people not to fall "prey to conspirators, opportunists and traitors".

Minister Maithreepala Sirisena pointed out that the resolution was passed with the amendments added by India to safeguard Sri Lanka from "the interferences of UN bodies".

These amendments ensured that no intrusions can be imposed without the consent of the government, he added. (ANI)