India pushes Sri Lanka on Tamil rights

June 11, 2011 (AFP) – India on Saturday asked Sri Lanka to address the grievances of the island’s Tamil minority two years after the Tamil Tiger separatist rebels were finally defeated, reports said.

Three top Indian officials held closed-door talks with President Mahinda Rajapakse during an overnight visit to Sri Lanka and urged a renewed effort to heal the island’s deep ethnic divisions, the Press Trust of India reported.

“The quicker the Sri Lankan government can come to a political arrangement (with Tamils) the better,” India’s National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon told Colombo-based Indian reporters after the talks.

Sri Lankan forces crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in a massive military offensive that ended in May 2009.

The rebels had been fighting for decades for an independent Tamil state, and many Tamils argue that they still face severe discrimination in jobs and education in a country dominated by the Sinhalese.

The large Tamil population in India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu shares close cultural and religious links with Sri Lankan Tamils.

Menon was accompanied by Indian Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar and Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao.

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