28 Jan :As India’s fears mounted for Tamil civilians trapped in the war zone in Sri Lanka, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee last night sought an assurance from President Mahinda Rajapakse that the innocents are safe and humanitarian situation will be taken into consideration.
Mukherjee, who rushed to Colombo, met Rajapakse for urgent talks during when the Indian minister was told that the President has extended an invitation to Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and AIADMK supremo Jayalalaithaa to be part of a Tamil delegation to visit the war ravaged northern parts of the country.
Rajapakse told the minister that the Tamil leaders should see for themselves the situation in the conflict zone.
"We have requested that the basic effort should be to help the civilians and ensure their safety and security," Mukherjee told reporters after his talks with the President immediately after his arrival.
Mukherjee told Rajapakse he will convey to Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa his interest that the two leaders from Tamil Nadu visit the island nation.
He said the democratic process in Sri Lanka should expeditiously ameliorate the lot of the Tamil civilians in the country.
The minister said that Rajapakse has assured that Sri Lanka will act as fast as possible to implement the 13th amendment devolution package.
The talks took place as the LTTE fighters struggled to defend their last remaining strongholds in the northern part of the country.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has also expressed deep concern over the safety and well-being of civilians caught in intensified fighting.
Before leaving for Colombo, Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi that India has no sympathy for LTTE but wanted to see that civilian Tamils do not become victims of conflict.
The meeting took place at a time when the military claimed to have captured Mullaithivu, the last bastion of LTTE, and that its offensive was 95 per cent complete.
Mukherjee said, "We are for fight against terrorists and all sorts of terrorism.
Therefore, we have no sympathy for any terrorist activity indulged in by any organisation, particularly LTTE (which) is a banned organisation in India."
At the same time, he said India is concerned over the plight of civilians and "we shall have to see how civilians can be protected and they do not become hapless victims of the situation."
Pranab’s visit comes in the backdrop of repeated demands by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi and other political leaders that Mukherjee should be sent to Sri Lanka to ensure an end to military offensive against LTTE.