India on Wednesday called upon Sri Lanka on the need to ensure aspirations of the Tamil minority in the country. Speaking at a joint media briefing with his Sri Lankan counterpart Dinesh Gunawardena, Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that it was in the interest of the neighbouring country that the expectations of the Tamil people “for equality, justice, peace and dignity” are fulfilled, PTI reported.
“That applies equally to the commitments made by the Sri Lanka government on meaningful devolution including the 13th amendment of the Constitution,” Jaishankar said in Colombo during a three-day visit.
The 13th amendment of Sri Lanka’s Constitution came as a result of the Indo-Lanka accord of 1987 signed by then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President JR Jayawardene. It led to the creation of Provincial Councils and gave the power of self-governance to all nine provinces in the country. However, allies of the ruling Sri Lanka People’s Party and Sinhala majority hardliners have been mounting pressure on the government for the abolition of the system.
Speaking further on the matter, Jaishankar said that India backs Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process and an “inclusive political outlook” that encourages ethnic harmony.
The foreign minister also said that the coronavirus pandemic has not been able to dent the bilateral relationship between India and Sri Lanka.
“We are now looking at post-Covid cooperation and I carry back with me Sri Lanka’s interest in accessing vaccines from India,” Jaishankar said. The Sri Lankan leadership formally requested India’s assistance to get a vaccine against the coronavirus, according to PTI.
Jaishankar met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Gunawardena before the press conference. He is expected to hold discussions with Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda later. The foreign minister said he was looking forward to the early return of Indian fishermen detained in Sri Lanka.