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Singh: 'Civilian deaths of utmost concern and sorrow'

Dear Shri Vaikoji,
 
The latest incidents in Sri Lanka leading to the loss of many innocent lives, mainly Tamils including women and children, are a matter of the utmost concern and sorrow to all of us. We have consistently pointed out that there is no justification for violence of this kind and that the killing of innocent people, especially of women and children, is not acceptable.
 
We are taking up with the Government of Sri Lanka, at the appropriate level, the recent cases of civilian casualties, as well as the killing of innocent Tamils. We will reiterate to the Government of Sri Lanka that they must find a political soiution through negotiations that would meet the genuine and legitimate rights of the Tamils, rather than adopt tactics that lead to the death of innocent people.
 
I am aware that the Geneva talks in October between the representatives of the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE had collapsed. This has possibly hardened attitudes on both sides. We consider this unfortunate, and it is possible that the recent violent incidents are an outcome of this.
 
We share your concerns about the closure of Highway A-9 leading to acute scarcity of food stuff and essential supplies in Jaffna and its environs.
 
Taking note of the acute scarcity of essential items in the Northern and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka, we have dispatched substantial quantities of rice, sugar and milk powder by way of humanitarian assistance. This may not be sufficient I agree, but I understand that the Sri Lankan authorities are meantime trying to supply Jaffna by the sea route.
 
We are fully alive to the sensitivities prevailing in the North and East of Sri Lanka, and the plight of the Tamils as also Muslims in these areas. You are aware that we have taken great care not to provide Sri Lanka with lethal offensive items of military hardware, specially of the kind that could be used against the Tamil population.
 
We have, at the same time and at every opportunity, also impressed upon the Sri Lankan Government to respect the rights and privileges of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as citizens of the country. This is again being conveyed to Sri Lankan authorities.
 
You may rest assured that we would do everything that we can to ensure diplomatically, and otherwise, that the loss of innocent lives does not take place.
 
With regards,
 
Yours sincerely,
Manmohan Singh