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Options open on Lanka vote

New Delhi, Feb. 27: The Centre today appeared non-committal on the stand it will take on a UN resolution against alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka, but claimed “some developments in addressing” the island nation’s ethnic conflict.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid told the Rajya Sabha the government was yet to decide its stand on the resolution to be brought by the US at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva next month.

“I cannot make (say) what position we will take at the UN. When we take the final position, we will come to this House,” Khurshid said in his reply to concerns raised by leaders across parties over the alleged war crimes.

India had voted against Lanka last year on a similar resolution at the UNHRC.

Khurshid, however, said there has been some “developments” in addressing the ethnic issue. “This time, we felt some developments have taken place.”

But the DMK’s Tiruchi Siva contested the claim. “The situation is much worse than before.” He said the Centre should never invite the Sri Lankan President. Mahinda Rajapaksa had visited India last year.

He then showed purported pictures, which surfaced recently in the UK, of slain LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran’s son Balachandran. One picture is of the 12-year-old eating snacks, another shows his bullet-riddled body.

“He is not the only child to be killed in cold blood. Thousands of children have been killed by the Sri Lankan army,” Siva said. Khurshid described the alleged incident as tragic but said India couldn’t “adjudicate” on the issue.

“That is why we are engaging with Sri Lanka. Accountability should be there. Whether it should be imposed from outside or come from within... I think it should come from within.”

BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu condemned the alleged killings of civilians in the last days of the war and said India, which had historically intervened in Lanka, must do so again in rights violations. He cited as an example the peace-keeping force sent in the late 1980s. “Can India be a silent spectator to what is happening Sri Lanka now? India has every right to intervene now,” Naidu said.

The AIADMK’s V. Maitreyan said nearly 40,000 Tamils were killed in the last days of the war in 2009.

“Sri Lanka as a friendly country is a thing of the past. It is an enemy country. It will remain till the time justice is given to Tamils.”

Khurshid objected to the expression. “We should not say Sri Lanka is our enemy country,” he said.

The CPI’s D. Raja said the Lankan government was carrying out “structural genocide”.

Most other members said India should demand for an independent inquiry into the alleged war.