Chennai: Chief minister M. Karunanidhi on Saturday received Congress president Sonia Gandhi, on her way to Puducherry, to present a memorandum and “use her good offices” to impress upon the Centre to urge Colombo to rehabilitate the Tamil people and bring an end to their “untold misery” expeditiously.
Accompanied by his wife Dayalu Ammal, son and deputy chief minister M.K. Stalin and a host of his Cabinet colleagues, Karunanidhi drove to the old airport to personally to receive Gandhi. He also presented the memorandum that sought a firm political commitment to end the sufferings of war-affected Tamils in Sri Lanka.
“It was only a brief meeting. She assured me to personally look into the matter,” he told reporters later. When asked whether they discussed the issue of alliance in Tamil Nadu for the coming Assembly polls, Karunanidhi replied in the negative. “The question did not arise now,” he said.
Recalling the observation of foreign secretary Nirupama Rao, who visited Sri Lanka two months ago, that 30,000 Tamils are still in camps in the island nation, Karunanidhi said it was one of the key issues causing concern to him and the people of Tamil Nadu. The Lankan government has to be urged effectively to rehabilitate the Tamils early, he stressed.
The foreign secretary has indicated the number in the camp to be about 30,000. “In all likelihood, the actual figure may be even higher than this. Also the government of Sri Lanka must be urged to start the political process without further delay.
In this connection, I have written to the PM also. Inasmuch as the hapless Sri Lankan Tamils continue to suffer in the camps for the last 18 months, there must be some firm political commitment to end the sufferings of these people,” Karunanidhi said.