New Delhi, Apr 28 (ANI): Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram on Tuesday welcomed Sri Lanka's decision to call a ceasefire against the rebel Liberation of Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and said the diplomatic efforts made by India paid off and combat operations came to an end.
"Thanks to international pressure, thanks to the diplomatic efforts made by India, the Sri Lankan government has now said two important things. First, that the combat operations have reached their conclusion, and the second the Sri Lankan security forces will confine themselves to rescuing civilians who are trapped in the conflict zone. Sri Lankan forces will no longer engage in a battle that will cause civilian casualties, death or injury. This is what we wanted and we've got that," Chidambaram said in an exclusive interview with NDTV.
Chidambaram further said that Sri Lanka respected the sentiments of India and stopped the combat operations against the rebel LTTE.
"We told the Sri Lankan government that in this neighbourhood, India and Sri Lanka would have to remain as neighbours, forever and forever, and that Sri Lanka therefore, has an obligation to respect the sentiments of India, especially the people of Tamil Nadu, who are just about 20 miles to the north of Sri Lanka. We are a neighbour of Sri Lanka, that's a sovereign country, yet we have an obligation to the Tamil people to ensure that they are safe and secure," Chidambaram added.
When asked about the LTTE chief Prabhakaran, the Home Minister said India appeals to Prabhakaran and his cadres to lay down arms.
"We don't wish Prabhakaran ill. Our concern in the immediate past and now is the welfare of the Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka, especially women and children and others who were trapped in the conflict zone. Over a hundred thousand have, fortunately been freed from the conflict zone. Our appeal to the LTTE is to lay down arms and come forward to the negotiating table. If they do so, there's no reason to believe that their lives will be in danger. My appeal to Prabhakaran and his cadres would be to offer to lay down arms and offer to start negotiations," he added.
Chidambaram claimed that most of the equipments used by the Sri Lankan army against the LTTE came from Pakistan and China.
"Some time ago we gave them some defensive radar equipment that would detect hostile aircraft. But then, much of the equipment that Sri Lanka has got, come from Pakistan and China. And somehow people are not focusing on that aspect. We have not given any kind of aid to Sri Lanka that can be used for offensive operations. That's been the policy of successive Indian governments in which every Tamil Party was a member at some time or other- the AIADMK, the DMK, the PMK, the MDMK and how can they pretend that they don't know what has been happening over the past several years. Every one of them was a member of one or ther government between 1998 and 2008," he added. (ANI)