Sri Lanka war crimes: Uproar in Parliament, govt seeks to mollify opposition

The Rajya Sabha was disrupted on Tuesday as opposition parties demanded to know the government's stand on atrocities on Sri Lankan Tamils after a picture of a bullet-ridden body of a boy said to be the 12-year-old son of slain LTTE chief V. Prabhakaran surfaced.

The house was adjourned till 12 pm first, then 2 p.m and finally for the day.

As soon as the house met at 11 a.m., members of the AIADMK and DMK started shouting slogans, forcing Chairman Hamid Ansari to allow them make a statement.

Ansari initially disallowed them saying Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley has made a request for making a statement and he has given him permission to speak.

"No banners please... your turn will come," he said.

Jaitley, however, said he was willing to make his submission after the issue of Sri Lankan Tamils was raised.

Ansari then allowed the members to raise the issue.

The opposition parties demanded to know the government's stand on a US-backed resolution against Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council for alleged war crimes.

Oppn parties join hands

Said V. Maitreyan of the AIADMK member: "The entire world knows about the war crimes against Sri Lankan Tamils. The Tamil Nadu chief minister has raised this issue with the prime minister. We want an answer from the prime minister... will they support the UN resolution."

The DMK, an ally of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA), urged the government to support the US' resolution.

"The US has moved the resolution in the human rights council meeting going in Geneva and we urge the government to support the resolution," said Tiruchi Siva, DMK MP.

D. Raja of the Communist Party of India (CPI) criticised the government for not taking a stand on the issue, saying that India, being the neighbour, should have moved the resolution and not the US.

Joining the debate, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader M. Venkaiah Naidu asked the government to inform the house about their approach to the issue.

"It is a sensitive issue and we cannot (close) our eyes and ears as atrocities are being committed. We would like to know the response and approach of India government," he said.

No date fixed for discussion: Pranab

Meanwhile, in Lok Sabha, government sought to mollify agitated DMK and AIADMK members who demanded India's support to a resolution at UNHCHR against Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes saying no date has been fixed yet for discussing the matter.

"Our traditional stand has been that we have never supported any country-specific resolution at the UNHCHR," Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee told the Lok Sabha as DMK, AIADMK and CPI members rushed to the Well raising slogans on the issue.

Mukherjee, who is the Leader of the Lok Sabha, told the House that no date has been fixed as yet for discussing the resolution against Sri Lanka moved by France, Norway and the US at Geneva-based UNHCHR and the stand can be decided in due course.

He told the members that the government has already explained the matter in detail to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M. Karunanidhi.

"The Prime Minister has written two letters to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and Karunanidhi...If members want further clarification, I will request the External Affairs Minister to make a brief statement," Mukherjee said.

Earlier, as soon as the Lok Sabha convened for the day, DMK member T.R. Baalu demanded that the government support the US-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka at UNHCHR, Geneva.

Baalu was supported by his party colleagues and members belonging to AIADMK and CPI on the issue of alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government during its fight against the LTTE. Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran was also seen in the aisle waving placards.

Govt to issue statement

With the ruckus continuing, Parliamentary Affairs Minister P.K. Bansal said the government would issue a statement by the evening.

"India's meticulous adherence and respect for human rights is respected the world over. I have got the views of members expressed here and would not like to comment accepting that at this time we do not know what is the resolution before the council," said Bansal.

"I will get in touch with the minister of external affairs soon and will come with a statement in the house by evening," he added.

When the members continued with protests demanding an immediate assurance from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was present in the house, the chair adjourned the house for the day.

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