Lankan Tamils: Deadline over, DMK threatens to quit UPA

Chennai: Hardening its stand, key UPA ally DMK today slammed the Centre for its "lukewarm" response on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and threatened to walk out of the ruling alliance if it failed to move amendments to the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC.

"If our demands are not met, it is doubtful whether our ties with the alliance (UPA) will continue... It won't continue is sure," DMK President M Karunanidhi told reporters here even as he shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan

Karunanidhi. AFP.

Karunanidhi. AFP.

Singh, saying he felt "let down" by the government on the issue. Karunanidhi's remarks go one step further from his earlier threat to pull out his party nominees from Union Council of Ministers if the government failed to concede his party's demand on certain amendments to the US resolution relating to alleged war crimes and an international probe.

Addressing a hurriedly convened press meet here, the 88-year-old leader said irrespective of the US accepting India's amendments or not, New Delhi should move them at the UN human rights body.

To a question, he said none from the Centre had contacted him after he had warned of his party quitting the government. DMK, an ally of UPA since 2004, has 18 members in the Lok Sabha with one cabinet minister and four junior ministers.

In identical letters to Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the DMK chief insisted that the government should bring in amendments to declare that "genocide and war crimes had been committed and inflicted on Eelam Tamils by Sri Lankan Army and the Administrators" and seek a credible and independent international commission to probe human rights violations.

In his letters to Singh and Gandhi, faxed last night, Karunanidhi said he was constrained to write them in view of the "volatile situation" prevailing in the state.

He said there was a feeling of "injustice" among the Tamils in the context of the "lukewarm response of the Government of India to the entreaties made by the various sections of Tamil community in general and students community in particular across the state."

"I am writing this letter with immense mental agony and feeling of having been let down by the Government of India," he said and hoped the Centre would take immediate steps to assuage the feelings of entire Tamil community by getting the amendments incorporation in the resolution.

To a question on a Buddhist priest being roughed up in Thanjavur by some pro-Tamil groups, he said it was not proper. Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said yesterday that India should support the US resolution provided if it called for an independent and reliable probe into the alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka during 2009.

"There will be good news, good news. Maintain patience till then. I am confident and I am giving you this positive feeling, continue spreading this among all till March 22," he had said at a meeting organised by local Congress in Karaikudi in his native Sivaganga district.

DMK has been focussing on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue ever since it revived last year the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO), floated by Karunanidhi in the 1980s, and has stepped up pressure on the Centre to act against Sri Lanka.

The Lankan Tamils issue was also vociferously raised in Parliament last week by MPs from Tamil Nadu who demanded that India should support the US resolution at the UNHRC.

DMK also organised a conference of TESO in Delhi recently which was attended by Congress leader and Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad.

PTI