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MPs return from Lanka, present report on Tamils to CM

Source: PTI
October 14, 2009 20:26 IST
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Completing its mission of studying first-hand the conditions prevailing in the camps housing internally displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka, the delegation of 10 Members of Parliament from Tamil Nadu returned to Chennai on Wednesday and submitted its report to Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

The chief minister, who came under attack for omission of opposition MPs from the team, was present at the airport to receive the delegation, which comprised members from the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party, the Congress and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, which presented the report to him soon after it landed after the five-day visit to the island nation. "We have completed our job. We sought feedback from the Sri Lankan Tamils who appealed to us to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government to send them back to their homes as early as possible," Congress MP Sudharasana Natchiappan told reporters.

The team led by DMK Parliamentary Party Leader T R Baalu had embarked upon the mission amidst rising concerns in Tamil Nadu over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils lodged in the camps.

The delegation visited eight camps housing people displaced by the war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan Army in the north, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers K S Alagiri, who was also part of the delegation, said.

The delegation had called on Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and pressed for speedy resettlement of displaced Tamils. To a query, Alagiri said they would also submit their findings to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi.

Karunanidhi and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary Jayalalithaa were involved in a war of words over the delegation visit with the latter terming it as "an eyewash" since the composition did not reflect an all-party character. Karunanidhi had defended the omission of opposition MPs saying it was not a government-sponsored visit and parties had borne the expenses.

Other opposition parties had also criticised the visit.

Speaking to reporters here, senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Venkaiah Naidu said the prime minister should have advised the state to include MPs of all parties.

"Sri Lankan Tamils issue is an issue of national concern. It is not an issue of one party or alliance partners," he said expressing surprise over "ignoring" and "avoiding" other parties including the AIADMK, the BJP and the Left.

He urged the Centre to prevail upon the Sri Lankan government for early resettlement of displaced Tamils and the Lankan government to honour its promise in this regard.
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