The Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC), which is the single largest organisation of Tamils of Indian Origin (TIO) in Sri Lanka, has sought a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to impress upon India the need to recognise the TIO as a politico-social and economic group with unique needs, quite distinct from those of Sri Lankan Tamils, the New Indian Express reported.
The meeting, sought about 15 days ago, is being arranged by V Narayanasamy, Minister of State in Prime Minister’s Office.
“Since the demise of Rajiv Gandhi, the Government of India has been clubbing the TIO with the Sri Lankan Tamils, though our problems are different,” Senthil Thondaman, Minister of Power in Uva province, told the New Indian Express.
“For example the northern province, overwhelmingly populated by Sri Lankan Tamils, needs powers over land and the police. But the TIO, living as a small minority among Sinhalese in the Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces, do not need them. The TIO are better off with the Centre keeping these powers, because they have more influence at the Centre than in any one province,” Thondaman said.
India is pressing for the de facto devolution of land and police powers to the provinces as it is a key feature of the India-inspired 13th Amendment of the Lankan constitution, which was enacted following the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987.
“The Lankan Tamils have a headache, while the TIO have a stomach ache. They can’t be treated with the same medicine,” Thondaman argued.
“The TIO need housing. They live in 10 ft by 10 ft line rooms which were originally stables! India is going to build 4000 houses in the central province, but our overall need is for 200,000 houses. Help for education and health are other pressing needs,” he said.