India should impress upon Sri Lanka to provide greater autonomy to Tamil majority northern and eastern provinces of the island nation while extending humanitarian assistance to the neighbouring country, DMK said on Tuesday at the all-party meeting here. Representing DMK at the meeting, its senior leader T R Baalu made these remarks in presence of the External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.
Similar demand was also made by MDMK leader Vaiko at the meeting. Jaishankar on Tuesday briefed the leaders of all major political parties about the situation in Sri Lanka ravaged by econmic turmoil and the assistance being provided by India.
"While extending humanitarian assistance to Sri Lanka, the government of India should also make earnest efforts to impress upon the Sri Lankan government to resolve the ethnic problem by implementing the 13th amendment of its constitution — which talks about greater autonomy and devolution to the Tamil dominated northern and eastern provinces," Baalu said during the meeting. The 13th amendment mandates a measure of power devolution to the provincial councils established to govern the island's nine provinces. This amendment came into existence after the Indo-Lanka Accord of July 1987, signed by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the then Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardene, to resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict that had aggravated into a full-fledged civil war.
This amendment led to the creation of Provincial Councils, assured a power sharing arrangement to enable all nine provinces in the country, including Sinhala majority areas, to self-govern.