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Wigneswaran thanks Modi for 'essential' 13th Amendment call

File photograph: Modi and Wigneswaran in Jaffna. 2015.

Tamil lawmaker C V Wigneswaran thanked Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for his call for the “essential” implementation of the 13th Amendment in Sri Lanka, as he asked New Delhi to ensure there would be no further Sinhalisation of the Tamil North-East.

“Let me thank your Excellency for your recent request to the Prime Minister of our Country to fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution,” said Wigneswaran in a letter to Modi. “It has raised the expectations of the members of our Tamil Community.”

“I am sure that you are well aware of the flaws in the 13th Amendment as well as the difference between the Indo Sri Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment,” he added, attaching a speech he delivered to the New Indian Forum, where he drew on his own experience to call the amendment “fundamentally flawed”. 

Wigneswaran went on to raise two further matters, that he said requires “urgent attention”. 

“It would be wise to get a commitment from Hon' Mahinda Rajapaksa that India’s grant assistance of US$ 15 million for promotion of Buddhist ties between our two countries, especially construction / renovation of Buddhist monasteries and archaeological cooperation will not be used in the traditional Tamil homelands of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka,” he stated. 

“It would also be necessary to get a further commitment from Hon' Mahinda Rajapaksa that any assistance or training to “strengthen cooperation between armed forces of the two sides .....” will not be used against the Tamil people in Sri Lanka,” Wigneswaran added.

Read the full text of his letter here.

Modi’s initial remarks came in a virtual summit during which Rajapaksa reportedly a further $1 billion from New Delhi, in the form of a currency swap. Sri Lanka, which is currently in the midst of an economic crisis, already owes about $960 million to India and earlier this year India agreed to a $400 million currency swap facility for Sri Lanka until November 2022. 

The additional request was one of several aspects discussed during the talks, with Modi announced a US$15 million grant “for the promotion of Buddhist ties between the two countries”.

Modi told Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister that implementation of the 13th Amendment - which devolves power to a merged North-East - was “essential”.

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