Concerned over reports of Sri Lankan government considering removal of land and police powers from the provinces prior to the elections in the Northern Province, India today asked it not to take any step against their own commitments relating to the 13th Amendment.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid telephoned his Sri Lankan counterpart G L Peiris and also raised the issue of 26 Indian fishermen who are in detention in his country while seeking their early release.
According to official sources, the conversation also focused on the elections that are to be held in the Northern Province with Khurshid expressing his concerns regarding media reports referring to some consideration being given to removal of land and police powers from the provinces prior to the polls.
"In this context, he urged the Sri Lankan Government not to take any step in the light of its own commitments relating to the 13th Amendment and their expressed intention to build upon it," the sources said.
According to reports, a key nationalist ally of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is planning legislative action for the abolition of the country's provincial councils while opposing local elections in the Tamil-dominated north.
Udaya Gammanpila, the deputy secretary of JHU (Heritage Party), said his party's policy making central committee last night decided to move parliament within the next two weeks to abolish the thirteenth amendment (13A) to the Sri Lankan constitution.
"We shall move parliament within the next two weeks to abolish the thirteenth amendment," Gammanpila said.
The 13A and the provincial councils entered Sri Lanka's statutes in 1987 as part of the India-Sri Lanka Peace Accord which envisaged devolution of powers to the island's provinces in an effort to end the civil war there involving LTTE and government forces.
Khurshid also referred to some reports about the Lankan army acquiring private land in the Northern Province for high security zones.
"He emphasised that this would not be in accordance with the LLRC recommendations and such a move would not be helpful," official sources said.
Khurshid raised the issue of 26 Indian fishermen who remain in detention in Sri Lanka under the alleged offences of transgression and sought their early release.
The minister also requested for the release of 5 Indian fishermen who are in detention in Sri Lanka since November 2012 under alleged drug trafficking offences, the sources said. He also emphasised on the need for reviewing their cases and releasing them at an early date, they added.
On his part, Peiris suggested that it would be useful to have a meeting of the two fishermen' associations to try and resolve issues among the primary stakeholders in the matter.
However, Tamil Nadu government has not responded positively to repeated requests from the Centre to hold such meetings. (PTI)