COLOMBO: The visiting Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj broke new political ground on Saturday when she met Indian Tamil leaders other than those associated with the Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC).
Swaraj met Indian Tamil leaders currently associated with the Maithripala Sirisena-Ranil Wickremesinghe government and also non-political leaders of the Indian community.
These were besides the customary meeting with the CWC, which is the oldest trade union cum political party of the Indian Origin Tamil plantation workers.
Mano Ganeshan, leader of the Democratic Peoples’ Front, who met Swaraj along with Ministers Radhakrishnan, Palani Thigambaram and K Velyaudam, told Express that the non- CWC Indian Tamil leaders wanted India to take up the development and political issues confronting the Indian Tamil community without harming the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils living in the North and East of Lanka.
“The Indian Tamils, most of whom are plantation workers, have problems distinct from those of the North- Eastern Tamils. Ours is the most backward community here and we need India’s attention,” Ganeshan said.
“India has a scheme to build 4,500 houses for the plantation workers. But we need at least 20,000 houses,” he added. There has been a complaint that India has neglected Indian Origin Tamils in their anxiety to support Tamils of North and East.
Minister Radhakrishnan said a delegation of Indian Origin Tamils will visit Tamil Nadu soon to impress upon the people and government of the state the need to take into account the needs of the Indian Origin Tamils also.
India releases five Sri Lankan boats
Thoothukudi: Five boats, belonging to Sri Lankan fishermen, that were confiscated in 2014 by the Indian Coast Guard on charges of trespassing into Indian waters, were released here on Saturday. Sources said that the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) officials would accompany the island nation fishermen, along with their boats, upto the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). In May 2014, the ICG had confiscated three boats with 15 Lankans on board.