Rajapaksa by his side, PM Modi delivers message on Tamils in Sri Lanka

Prime Minister Narendra Modi who held wide ranging talks with his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa on Saturday said he hoped that the island nation will carry forward the process of reconciliation with Tamils.

“I am confident that Sri Lankan government will realise expectations of Tamil people for equality, justice, peace within united Sri Lanka …I am confident the government will work towards reconciliation,” Modi said with Rajapaksa standing by side as the two leaders addressed the media.

Modi said both India and Sri Lanka have faced the scourge of terrorism.

“Terrorism is a major threat in our region. Both our countries have fought this problem vigorously. In April last year, there were barbaric terrorist attacks on Easter Day in Sri Lanka. These were attacks on the entire humanity,” he said.

He also addressed the issue of Indian fishermen who are often arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy or come under fire. “We have decided to adopt humanitarian approach in dealing with issue of fishermen,” Modi said.

The talks between the two prime ministers covered the entire expanse of bilateral ties between the two countries including in areas of defence and security.

Mahinda Rajapaksa served as Sri Lanka’s president from 2005-2015 to become one of the longest-serving leaders in South Asia. He was also prime minister for a brief period in 2018.

It was under his rule that the Sri Lankan army crushed the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in a massive offensive that ended in 2009. That offensive ended a 30-year-old civil war but also put the Lankan government under scrutiny for alleged war crimes and human rights abuses against Tamils in the country’s north and northeast.

The Sri Lankan government denies that its armed forces committed excesses during and after the offensive the obliterated the LTTE. Sri Lanka had refused to cooperate with a UN investigation into alleged war crimes during the final phase of the country’s civil war, saying it will not subject itself to the jurisdiction of the top rights body.