Tamil diaspora joins chorus, asks Modi to tell Ranil to hold provincial polls
The Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who will visit New Delhi this week, to hold early provincial council elections in the island’s northeast so that Tamils get an administration they can call their own.
The latest letters to Modi came a day after leading members of the Tamil civil society in Sri Lanka’s north and east on Monday presented an open letter to Modi to the Indian consulate in Jaffna making similar demands.
A near similar appeal by the global Well Wishers of Tamils in Sri Lanka (WTSL) and the UK-based Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL) say that an active and functional administration in the country’s north and east would immensely spur economic development, partly with diaspora’s involvement.
The WTSL said in its open letter sent from Melbourne that despite the end of the armed ethnic conflict in 2009, “the absence of an efficient and functioning political structure in the northeast has resulted in a seriously deteriorating state of socio-economic conditions for the people in the region.
“Sri Lanka has continued to fail to live up to the scope of the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, despite several requests and initiatives by India. We firmly believe, and so do the majority of the people living in the north and east of Sri Lanka, that a functioning provincial council system … will lead to a reasonably prosperous future for our people.”
It said it had also written President Wickremasinghe as well as Tamil and Sinhalese political parties “to work together for the full implementation of the 13th Amendment Act and the holding of the provincial council elections soon”.
It urged Prime Minister Modi to take up the issue with the Sri Lankan president during talks scheduled in New Delhi on Friday (July 21).
The visiting president should be urged to give a firm commitment to hold the postponed provincial council elections, at least in the north and east, without further delay, and to set a definitive time frame for a full and proper implementation of the 13th Amendment to the constitution to devolve powers to the provincial councils.
“We firmly believe it is unlikely that the full implementation of the 13th Amendment will ever take place without direct pressure and intervention by the Government of India,” the letter added.
WTSL is a non-partisan organisation with an international network which seeks to raise the socio-economic status of the Tamils in the northeast of Sri Lanka and alleviate their grievances.
In another communication, the Non-Resident Tamils of Sri Lanka (NRTSL) said a functioning provincial council in the northern and eastern provinces of Sri Lanka will encourage and enable the diaspora to engage in the social, economic and developmental activities in the Tamil areas.
Besides seeking a target date for the full implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution that followed the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord, it urged India to extend the Palaly airport runway in Jaffna to enable the Tamil diaspora spread around the world to travel directly to Jaffna via the Middle East or India.
The group also urged India to speed up all other connectivity projects between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka so that the diaspora can invest in agricultural and small industries sectors with the collaboration of Tamil Nadu industry.e Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to urge Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, who will visit New Delhi this week, to hold early provincial council elections in the island’s northeast so that Tamils get an administration they can call their own.