Issues related to Tamils in Sri Lanka, including the urgent need for devolution of powers to the ethnic minority, came up at a meeting a parliamentary delegation from that country had with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Monday.
An eight-member delegation headed by Parliament Speaker Karu Jayasuriya met Modi at his official residence when Tamil MPs sought India's good offices to persuade Colombo to adopt the 13th amendment to the Constitution to devolve powers to the northern and eastern parts of the island nation heavily populated by the Tamils.
R. Sampanthan, Leader of the Opposition in Sri Lankan Parliament and from the Tamil National Alliance, and Douglas Devananda, MP from the Eelam People's Democratic Party (EPDP), voiced the Tamil position that there should be full implementation of the India-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987 which spoke of devolving powers to the north and east of the island nation.
Devananda later said he also urged the Indian government to help construct one lakh more houses in Tamil areas and elsewhere for the rehabilitation of civilians following the end of the decades of ethnic conflict.
He also sought India's help in the development of the Kankesanthurai port in Jaffna and introduction of air services between Tiruchirapalli in India and Palaly in Jaffna to enhance regional connectivity.
The delegation is on a five-day visit to India at the invitation of the Rajya Sabha Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan with a view to strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries.
On the meeting with Modi, an official press release said the MPs noted the historical ties and shared spiritual and cultural heritage of India and Sri Lanka and expressed appreciation for the deepening of relations between the two countries in recent years.
They also noted the benefits from a number of people-centric development cooperation projects being carried out with India's assistance in Sri Lanka.
They agreed that speedy implementation of joint economic projects will bring benefits to the economies and people of both the countries.
The Prime Minister welcomed the delegation and stressed the importance of such linkages.
He stated that the new initiatives for enhancing relations between provincial assemblies and local bodies of the two countries would deepen significantly the close people-to-people ties and trust between the two countries, the release said.
The delegation later called on President Ram Nath Kovind and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj,
The delegation will also visit Agra, Varanasi and Bengaluru.