Modi affirms India's support for Lankan Tamils

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Chennai, Feb 14 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday said his government has always taken care of the welfare of Sri Lankan Tamils and 'consistently' flagged the issue of their rights with the leaders in the island nation.

India was always committed to ensuring that the Tamils there lived with equity, equality, justice, peace and dignity, he said here, after launching various government projects in railways and defence sectors.

Modi recalled the various welfare initiatives taken by the Centre in the housing and health sectors aimed at benefiting the Lankan Tamils, and said he was the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Jaffna (in 2015) in northern Sri Lanka.

'Our government has always taken care of the welfare and aspirations of Tamil brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka. It is my honour to have been the only Indian PM to visit Jaffna.

Through development work, we are ensuring the welfare of the Tamil community,' he said.

India has constructed 50,000 houses for displaced Tamils in north eastern Sri Lanka and another 4,000 in the plantation areas while 'we hope to open soon' the Jaffna Culture Centre, he added.

'The issue of Tamil rights has also been taken up consistently with Sri Lankan leaders. We are always committed to ensuring that they (Tamils) live with equity, equality, justice, peace and dignity,' Modi said.

The Sri Lankan Tamils issue has always had an emotional connect in Tamil Nadu and has often dominated the political space here.

Modi also pointed to India's efforts in railway projects for Jaffna and Mannar, air connectivity from Chennai to Jaffna and the initiatives in the health sector. PTI VGN SA VS VS