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Cablegate: Military Attacks in Sri Lanka: Tamil Nadu Urges Center To

Published: Mon 13 Nov 2006 10:03 AM
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 CHENNAI 002555
SIPDIS
SENSITIVE
SIPDIS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV IN CE
SUBJECT: MILITARY ATTACKS IN SRI LANKA: TAMIL NADU URGES CENTER TO
"RETHINK AND FIND AN ANSWER"
REF: A) Colombo 1884 B) New Delhi 7305
1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Pro-Eelam Tamil rhetoric has again gone into high
pitch in Tamil Nadu following the recent Sri Lankan army attacks in
Tamil areas (ref a) and in anticipation of the upcoming India visit
of Sri Lankan President Rajapakshe. Chief Minister Karunanidhi
cited the recent attacks on Tamil civilians and asked the question:
"How long India is going to keep patience?" He urged the Center to
"rethink and find an answer" to the problem. Top DMK sources tell
post that the DMK will not embarrass the Center or the Congress on
the issue, but they will ask Prime Minister Singh to diplomatically
restrain the Government of Sri Lanka from continuing its military
attacks. Meanwhile, refugees continue to trickle into Tamil Nadu,
with this year's arrivals now exceeding 16,000. END SUMMARY
HOW LONG WILL INDIA KEEP PATIENCE?, ASKS KARUNANIDHI
2. (SBU) On November 9, in a public statement titled "Sinhalese Army
on the Rampage," Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi said that
"hundreds of Tamils staying as refugees have been brutally killed by
bombings" at Mattakkallappu in Sri Lanka. He said this occurred
even before memories had faded of the gruesome attacks on innocent
children in Sencholai a few months ago. Pointing out that even a
Norwegian peace team came under fire, Karunanidhi said, "I wish to
bring to the notice of the Central Government the pertinent question
which has now arisen as to how long India is going to keep patience.
The time is now ripe to rethink and find an answer." Continuing in
the same vein on November 11, Karunanidhi reportedly told the press
corps in the Tamil Nadu city of Trichy that the Center should think
of an appropriate solution to end the war in Sri Lanka, and that he
would express his views on the situation to Prime Minister Singh
when an opportunity arises.
WE WANT TO PUT PRESSURE ON SRI LANKA, SAYS DMK MINISTER
3. (SBU) Highly placed and influential DMK Treasurer and state Power
Minister Arcot Veerasamy told post on November 13 that the Chief
Minister's purpose is to urge Prime Minister Singh to put diplomatic
pressure on Sri Lanka in order to restrain it from carrying out
military attacks on the Tamil population. "If the present trend
continues," Veerasamy said, "the Tamil population will be wiped
out." He added that the DMK will not embarrass the GOI or the
Congress party on the issue: "We understand the sensitivities the
Congress party has, particularly after the (Rajiv Gandhi)
assassination." Veerasamy pointed out that since 1991 the DMK has
stayed away from supporting the LTTE. That policy will continue, he
said.
DMK PLEASED WITH PM SINGH'S COMMENT
4. (SBU) Veerasamy mentioned that the DMK is pleased with the Prime
Minister's assurances, made in response to Karunanidhi's November 9
statement, that he is equally concerned over the human tragedy in
Sri Lanka. According to The New Indian Express newspaper
(11/11/06), Union Shipping Minister T.R. Balu (DMK) met the PM on
behalf of Karunanidhi to seek immediate, appropriate intervention by
India to end the unprovoked and indiscriminate offensive of the Sri
Lankan army against innocent Sri Lankan Tamils. Balu handed over a
copy of Karunanidhi's November 9 statement to the PM, whereupon the
PM made his comments.
JOURNALIST EXPECTS MORE ACTION BEFORE RAJAPAKSE VISIT
5. (SBU) Senior Correspondent of New Indian Express, K.N. Arun sees
Karunanidhi's statement in the context of the upcoming India visit
of Sri Lanka President Rajapakse. Pro-LTTE parties and
organizations such as the MDMK of Vaiko, the Pattali Makkal Katchi
(PMK) and the Dravida Kazhagam have raised objections to the visit
of Rajapakse. The MDMK has announced plans to hold a rally on
November 17 in front of the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission in
Chennai to protest the visit. According to Arun, some of
Karunanidhi's constituencies also have urged him to speak out on the
issue, but Karunanidhi still has no intention of dictating terms to
the Center. Arun told post that before the Rajapakse visit takes
place, the Prime Minister may consult with Karunanidhi, either
directly or through National Security Advisor Narayanan.
REFUGEES CONTINUE TO TRICKLE IN; NUMBER CROSSES 16,000
6. (SBU) Meanwhile, Tamil refugees continue to trickle into Tamil
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Nadu. According to the Organization for Eelam Refugee
Rehabilitation, 16,046 refugees have reached India since January.
The flow had peaked in August when 5769 people landed. In September
it fell to 3749 and in October, perhaps due to rough sea conditions,
the number dwindled to 735. In the first 12 days of November
another 134 people have arrived. Tamil Nadu Rehabilitation
Commissioner PWC Davidar (protect) told post that the numbers do not
pose a major concern to the governments of India or Tamil Nadu.
According to him, the DMK government is quietly doing its best to
create favorable conditions to the refugees. The Tamil Nadu Chief
Secretary expressed the same views recently when we met with him on
SIPDIS
other subjects.
7. (SBU) Citing contacts with recently arrived refugees, South
Indian newspapers have prominently reported the harsh living
conditions in Jaffna after the closure of the A-9 Highway.
According to the reports, short supply has raised the price of rice
from Rupees 35 to 150. Likewise, kerosene is said to be sold at
Rupees 150 and petrol at Rupees 500, forcing people to flee.
DMK STILL NOT FOR CONFLICT WITH THE CENTER
8. (SBU) COMMENT: In addition to pacifying some sections of his
constituency through expressions of sympathy for the suffering
Tamils of Sri Lanka, Karunanidhi seems to have a genuine desire to
influence the GOI dialogue with Colombo - to the extent possible
without alienating the sensitive Congress establishment. Despite
the strong words in Karunanidhi's November 9 statement, he is
unlikely to allow the issue to develop into a conflict with the
Center. END COMMENT
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