The Web Sri Lanka In Focus

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Film personalities lead huge rally

Over 2,000 members from the Tamil film world, led by noted director Bharatirajaa, led a rally here on Sunday, demanding a halt to the Sri Lankan Army's ongoing offensive in the northern part of the island nation.

The film personalities had arrived here yesterday by a special train from Chennai. However, none of the top actors or actresses took part in the rally.

Among those present were directors like K Bhagyaraj, Parthiban, Cheran and Santhana Bharathy and Tamil film council producers president Rama Narayanan.

Speakers at the rally urged the Centre to take immediate steps to stop the alleged 'massacre' of Tamils in Sri lanka.

Bharathirajaa, who spoke to reporters later, said the rally was an opportunity for the film fraternity to express their solidarity with the Tamils in Sri Lanka. The coming together of the industry would attract everyone's attention, he said, adding that they were confident that a solution would soon be found.

"Those who have sympathy for the Tamils have gathered for the rally," he said.

Actor Sarath Kumar, who is the president of the South Indian Film Artistes Association, said that top actors and actresses would stage a fast at Chennai on November 1 on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue.

The rally commenced after prayers were offered at the famous Ramanathaswamy temple here for the well being of Sri Lankan Tamils.


DMK supporting a terrorist organisation: Janata Party

Janata Party President Subramaniam Swamy on Sunday attacked Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi for seeking a halt in military operations against the LTTE in Sri Lanka, saying it amounted to supporting the terrorist organisation and being "anti-national".

Holding the LTTE responsible for the killing of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, he wondered why Congress is listening to the DMK on this issue and demanded dismissal of the DMK government for indulging in "anti-national" activities.

"Karunanidhi's concerns for the Tamils in Sri Lanka are bogus. If he really wants to do something for them, he should fight with the Centre for the renewal of reservation announced for the children of Tamil refugees," he told reporters here.

He said these reservations for Sri Lankan Tamil students were announced by the Rajiv Gandhi Government in 1988 when Tamil Nadu was under President's rule and the UPA Government discontinued it, saying it was "unconstitutional".

The Janata Party chief also claimed that three LTTE cadres who were injured in the ongoing militray offensive are being treated at a hospital in Vellore in Tamil Nadu.

Swamy said his party will explore if some seat adjustments are possible in view of elections in Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir with the BJP, which is the "ideologically closest party".

"We are trying to ensure that the anti-UPA votes are not split in setting up of candidates and have decided to hold discussions with BJP whose ideology is close to ours," he said.

Accusing Finance Minister P Chidambaram of failing to control inflation and the current crisis in the markets, he said he should step down on moral grounds.


LTTE seeking help of Indian leaders to escape defeat:Gotabhaya

Claiming that the LTTE was on the verge of "defeat" after suffering huge casualties at the hands of Sri Lankan security forces, the government has said that the Tamil tigers are making desperate efforts to rope in Indian leaders to stop the ongoing offensives against them.

"It is very clear that the LTTE is at a decisive stage. And no one can stop them getting defeated. So, they are trying their maximum to get Tamil Nadu (leaders) to pressurise the Indian government to pressurise the Sri Lankan government," Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, powerful Defence Secretary and brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said.

"That is what the LTTE want and that is why this sudden pressure is coming. The (Sri Lankan) Government expects this situation as we know there is no other way for the LTTE. Anyway, the LTTE cannot escape facing military offensives now," he told the Sunday Observer.

Gotabhaya comment comes a day after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday asked President Rajapaksa to ensure that Tamils do not get "enmeshed" in the conflict with LTTE and that their rights and safety are upheld.

During a telephonic conversation initiated by Rajapaksa, Singh said there could be no military solution to the conflict in the island country and asked the President to start a political process for a peacefully negotiated settlement within the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

Rajapaksa also sought reciprocity from India on permitting fishing in each others territorial waters.

"For the last three years we have never prosecuted a single Indian fisherman though they are coming to our areas. Though we have arrested and questioned them, they were not subjected to any legal process," he said and alleged that Sri Lankan fishermen have been arrested, prosecuted and detained for over two to three months.


Several ministers, MPs offer to quit on Sri Lanka Tamil issue

Several Indian ministers, and MPs have offered to quit on Sri Lanka Tamils issue. The issue is getting hotter with every passing day and if Sri Lanka is not able to resolve the issue, the Sri Lankan Tamil issue may well become a major election plank in this South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, from where Sri Lankan Tamil originally belonged.

Every Tamil party is trying to cash in on charged up atmosphere in Tamil Nadu on the issue of Sri Lankan Tamil safety in the island nation.

Seven ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh government have submitted their resignation to their party boss and Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi. Seven other members of Indian Parliament have also submitted their resignations and have handed over it to Karunanidhi.

With Karunanidhi repeatedly saying that he can go to any extent on the issue, Manmohan Singh government is under tremendous pressure on the issue.

The Prime Minister yesterday in a telephonic conversation with Sri Lanka president asked him to ensure the safety of Tamils in his country.

Prime Minister Singh said that Tamil community in Sri Lanka should not get enmeshed in the on-going hostilities against the LTTE and that the rights and safety of Tamils there are upheld.

The Sri Lankan President called Dr Singh on Saturday to discuss the situation on the island. Expressing concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the north of Sri Lanka, as civilians were caught up in hostilities, Dr Singh requested Lanka to ensure uninterrupted relief supplies to internally displaced persons.

A statement from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said “President Rajapakse assured the Prime Minister that all necessary measures are being taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the community in Sri Lanka”.

Manmohan Singh also reiterated there was no military solution to the conflict and urged the President to start a political process for a negotiated political settlement within the framework of a united Lanka. “The Prime Minister asked President Rajapaksa to instruct the Sri Lankan Navy to desist from firing on Indian fishermen and reiterated that killing of fishermen is unacceptable,” the PMO statement added.

Source: khabrein

Food delivered to war-displaced civilians in Sri Lanka

The World Food Programme on Saturday delivered 750 metric tonnes of food to an estimated 2,30,000 civilians in the country’s north, where the military and the LTTE are engaged in battles.

The United States Office’s statement here said the convoy, consisting of staff and vehicles from a number of UN agencies, has delivered the food. It also monitored the distribution at three locations where there is a heavy concentration of civilians, before driving back to Vavuniya.

“The convoy had been forced to turn around on Thursday after heavy-weapon fire disrupted its route to the north. After receiving renewed assurances of safe passage from both parties to the conflict, the 50 trucks and nine support vehicles drove through heavy rain on Friday to reach the displaced civilians. Food is being distributed from the three locations by government agent networks,” it said.

Separately, the military said the Kilinochchi battlefront has been intensely active since Saturday as soldiers of the 57th Division “cleared the LTTE-built earth-bund from both the east and west of Akkarayankulam Tank.”

A Defence Ministry statement said soldiers have entered the remaining LTTE ‘hiding areas’ north of Akkarayankulam Tank. It further said Task Force 1 soldiers, operating south of Nachchikudha, commenced their offensive on Saturday. Simultaneously, soldiers are continuing to maintain their southward thrust from Pallawarayankaddu south.

“At present, Task Force 1 soldiers have cut off all land access routes available for the terrorists trapped in their Nachchikudha stronghold. Troops manning the blockades in Nachhcikudaha have thwarted two LTTE reinforcement attempts this morning,” it said.

The Ministry said soldiers attacked 25 LTTE cadre near Pallawarayankaddu and another group in Madam. “Intercepted radio transmissions revealed that terrorist leader Bhanu has abandoned his position on the western half of the Kilinochchi front. According to sources, Bhanu was in charge of the LTTE defence against the Task Force 1. The terrorist leader has repositioned himself in LTTE hiding areas south of Kilinochchi,” it said.

Meanwhile, helicopter gun-ships attacked ‘LTTE resistance points’ 1.5 km north of Akkarayankulam on Saturday.

Air Force spokesperson Janaka Nanayakkara said the missions were carried out to support the Army’s 57th Division, which is now in a commanding position north of Akkarayankulam Tank.

Source: Hindu

Ready to pay any price: Karunanidhi

“We are ready to pay any price to stop the annihilation of the Tamil race in Sri Lanka, whose future has become a question mark,” said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi here on Saturday.

In a statement, the Chief Minister said he was disturbed over the sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils. But there was a silver lining as both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee had strongly backed the resolutions adopted at the all-party meet here on October 14.

The Prime Minister in an interview had categorically said India had been pressing for a negotiated settlement in Sri Lanka as there could not be a military solution to the ethnic issue.

The Prime Minister also expressed his concern over the harassment and killing of Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy. This showed the Prime Minister’s support to the Tamils.

Mr. Mukherjee in a statement on Thursday said the situation in the island was causing anxiety and innocent Tamils had become victims of circumstances for which they were not responsible. India wanted Sri Lanka to honour the rights of Tamils and no attempt should be made to prevent the movement of food and other essential commodities to them. He had reiterated that a political solution alone would satisfy the feelings of all people in Sri Lanka, Mr. Karunanidhi said.

These statements, the Chief Minister said, had given hope that the Central government would step in to save the suffering Tamils in the island.

Source: Hindu

Sri Lanka ‘mindful of Indian concerns,’ invites Pranab

Sri Lanka’s President Mahinda Rajapaksa told Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a telephonic conversation on Saturday that security forces were engaged in an “operation to disarm the LTTE and restore democracy, peace and stability to the region.”

A statement by the Foreign Ministry here said Mr. Rajapaksa briefed Dr. Singh on the situation in the north of the island country and reiterated that the security forces were under “strict instructions to avoid causing any civilian casualties, during this operation.”

“He also informed Dr. Singh that Sri Lanka is mindful and appreciative of the concerns of India regarding the situation in the North, and aware of the context in which these matters have been raised.

“Consequent to this discussion, Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama has invited the Indian Minister of External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee to undertake a visit to Sri Lanka at an early date. Both leaders agreed to maintain a dialogue at a high political level, in keeping with the longstanding and excellent bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka,” it said.

On Friday, High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Alok Prasad called on Mr. Bogollagama and conveyed the Indian concerns articulated in the October 6 demarche served on Sri Lanka’s Deputy High Commissioner by the National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, remarks made by Dr. Singh on the current situation in the island and the statement issued by Mr. Mukherjee in New Delhi on Thursday.

Source: Hindu