Political reforms should be urgently introduced with further possible delineation of powers to the Provinces by transferring some of the itemsfrom the Concurrent List to the Provincial List as per the aspirations of thepeople, especially the Sri Lankan Tamil Community.Relavent section of the Memorandum submitted by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Selvi J. Jayalalithaa to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
15 June 2011
1. ISSUES RELATING TO SRI LANKAN TAMILS
(a) Action required against War Crimes in Sri Lanka
During the closing days of military action of the Sri Lankan Armed Forcesagainst the Tamils, there had been many reports of indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians and non combatants and human rights violations.
A largenumber of Sri Lankan Tamils were affected in this conflict.Despite an attempt to black out the coverage by independent media,enough information is available to show that the Sri Lankan Government wasresponsible for large scale atrocities. The Panel of Experts appointed by theSecretary General of the United Nations Organisation found the followingserious credible allegations against the Sri Lankan Government:
(i) killing of civilians through widespread shelling;
(ii) shelling of hospitals and humanitarian objects;
(iii) denial of humanitarian assistance;
(iv) human rights violations suffered by victims and survivors of theconflict, including both IDPs and suspected LTTE cadre; and
(v) human rights violations outside the conflict zone, including against themedia and other critics of the Government.Therefore, the Government of India should take up this matter with theUnited Nations Organisation to declare those found guilty of such war crimes aswar criminals.
(b) Equal Rights for the Tamils in Sri Lanka
The genocide of Sri Lankan Tamils at the hands of theSri Lankan Armed Forces has led to their large scale displacement from theirhomeland. A major part of the Sri Lankan Tamil community is still languishing inrefugee camps with their rights to citizenship severely compromised.It is imperative to provide a pragmatic Political Package to the Sri Lankan Tamils and restore their equal rights of citizenship on par with the Sinhalese Community. In Sri Lanka, the Tamil speaking people have historically inhabited theNorth and East Provinces, while the Sinhalese have lived in other parts. TheGovernment of India should impress upon the Sri Lankan Government the need to enable the Tamil people to participate fully in their own governance in theNorth and East. Political reforms should be urgently introduced with further possible delineation of powers to the Provinces by transferring some of the itemsfrom the Concurrent List to the Provincial List as per the aspirations of thepeople, especially the Sri Lankan Tamil Community.
(c) Economic Sanctions against Sri Lanka till the Tamils in Camps are fully rehabilitated
Though Sri Lanka became independent, the Tamils living in that countrywere struggling for many years against the injustice of being treated as secondclass citizens. Instead of appreciating the justness of their demand and ensuringthat Tamils in Sri Lanka lead a life of dignity, with equal rights and self-respectthrough necessary Constitutional Amendments, the Sri Lankan Government wastaking all possible action to exterminate them.
There is overwhelming evidence of the large scale deaths of innocent SriLankan Tamil Civilians and other grave human rights violations by the Sri LankanArmed Forces. There have been no tangible efforts to ensure properrehabilitation of the large number of displaced Tamilians in the Northern & Eastern part of the country.The Government of India should initiate action by working with otherNations for the imposition of an economic embargo on the Government of SriLanka until the Tamils, who are now living in camps, are resettled in their ownplaces and are allowed to live with dignity and with equal Constitutional rights onpar with the Sinhalese.
(d) Reimbursement for Welfare Schemes extended to Sri Lankan Refugees
The Relief and Rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Refugees have been constantlyengaging the attention of the Government of Tamil Nadu. The Government of India have been reimbursing the cost of housing, basic amenities, food andclothing along with establishment costs to the extent of
44.74 crores per annum. The State Government provides additional benefits like aids and apparatus for differently abled, supply of sports materials, marriage assistance etc. at a cost of
6.11 crores per annum for the refugees welfare.To enable them to live with dignity, the Government of Tamil Nadu hasnow taken a decision to extend the following special welfare schemes presently in operation for the people of Tamil Nadu to the Sri Lankan Refugees also.
1. Social Security schemes for the old and destitute.
2. Free Rice Scheme up to 20 kgs.
4. Supply of ration commodities at subsidized rates
5. Girl Child Protection scheme.
6. Fee concession for the first graduate student in professional collegesf
(e) Retrieval of Katchatheevu and Restoration of traditional fishing rights of Tamil Nadu Fishermen
Katchatheevu is a small island of an extent of approximately 285 acres in the Palk Strait off Rameswaram, part of Ramanthapuram District. It wasoriginally under the ownership of the Raja of Ramanathapuram (Survey No.1250) as per the Ramanathapuram Gazetteer. A large number of evidences,including lease deeds, in the past prove that Katchatheevu was part of India geographically, culturally and historically. The Indian fishermen were enjoyingfishing rights in and around the island of Katchatheevu prior to the execution of the 1974 Agreement. As per this Agreement, Katchatheevu was ceded to SriLanka. Article 6 of the above Agreement states that “the vessels of India and Sri Lanka will enjoy in each other’s waters such rights as they traditionally enjoyed therein.” The Government of Tamil Nadu has always maintained that such rights include the traditional fishing rights as well.A second Agreement was entered into with Sri Lanka in March 1976 forsettling the boundaries between the two countries in the Gulf of Mannar. Bythese two agreements, the fishermen of Tamil Nadu have been deprived of thei rfishing rights around Katchatheevu.
In 1991, the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly passed a resolution seekingthe restoration of Katchatheevu Island and the sea adjacent to it to India.Further, a proposal was sent to the Government of India in 2003 to examine the feasibility of getting the Island of Katchatheevu and adjacent seas on a ‘lease in perpetuity’ solely for fishing and other activities associated with it while negotiations for the return of Katchatheevu are on.A Writ Petition (W.P. (Civil) No.561/2008) was also filed in this regard inthe Supreme Court of India in 2008 and is pending. The Tamil Nadu LegislativeAssembly passed a resolution on 9.6.2011, stating that, as per the order of the Supreme Court of India (Berubari case of 1960), a part of territory owned byIndia can be ceded to another country only through a Constitutional Amendment passed with the approval of both Houses of the Parliament.
However, Katchatheevu was ceded to Sri Lanka through the 1974 and 1976Agreements without getting the approval of both Houses of the Parliament.This Government is of the strong view that the ceding of Katchatheevuwithout a Constitutional Amendment approved by both Houses of Parliament iscontrary to law. The Government of India should, hence, take steps to retrieveKatchatheevu and restore the traditional fishing rights of the fishermen of TamilNadu