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India today assured Sri Lankan Tamils that it will stand by them and do its best to ensure that they are able to live a life of respect and dignity.
This assurance was given by Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh to a delegation of the ruling Tamil National Alliance (TNA) that recently came to power in the Tamil-dominated Northern Province of Jaffna.
The delegation, led by TNA leader and veteran Tamil politician R Sambanthan, included two party MPs M A Sumanthiran and Suresh Premachandran.
Sambanthan told reporters after the meeting with Singh that the delegation discussed the entire gamut of issues related to the Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Indian role in improving their plight.
"India has played a role with regards to the situation in Sri Lanka from 1983 (after the infamous Wellikade jail massacre) and in the past few years India has been very active with regard to ensuring that the Tamil people in the country live with dignity and in fulfilling the legitimate aspirations of the people of North and Eastern provinces where the Tamil people are in a majority," Sambanthan said.
"Much needs to be done in achieving it. We are extremely unhappy about the ground situation, particularly with regard to land powers and the oppressive presence of the armed forces, particularly in the Northern Province, and the increasing view in the female population, who are embarrassed and feeling a sense of insecurity because of the violations by the armed forces," he said.
The delegation also told the Indian Foreign Secretary of the feeling of insecurity about the missing persons, the concerns about the independence of judiciary and media freedom and sought an acceptable political solution to their problems.
Asked what was Singh's response, Sambanthan said she gave the delegation a patient hearing and assured them that India would stand by the Tamils of Sri Lanka and do its best to take every step that is necessary so that they lived a life of respect and dignity.