COLOMBO, June 29, Reuter: Sri Lanka and India were embroiled in a fresh controversy over food aid to minority Tamils today with New Delhi insisting it is sending more supplies than Colombo will acknowledge.
“A third ship with about 500 tonnes of food and medicine was expected this morning at Kankesanthurai harbor in the northern Jaffna peninsula. But this is not the last supply ship”. An Indian High Commission (Embassy) spokesman said.
She denied a report in the statute Observer yesterday which quoted Colombo’s High Commissioner (Ambassador) in New Delhi, Bernard Tillakaratne, as saying that the Mv Bhoruka, expected today, was bringing the final load of Indian relief.
Spokesman for the foreign and information ministers also told Reuters that Bhoruka would be the final ship. “There are no more ships”, the information ministry official said.
Two merchant ships carrying 700 tonnes of food and medicine arrived at Kankesanthurai last Thursday from the South Indian port of Madras accompanied by shipping and Red Gross officials. ‘The officials, along with Sri Lankan authorities, have begun distributing the supplies to residents in the peninsula. New Delhi said Tamils in northern Sri Lanka were starving after recent ant guerrilla operations there.
Colombo denied the charge but agreed to accept the food aid.
The Indian government said Bhoruka would not be able to unload her cargo until Wednesday because some local ships were presently discharging food and other goods at the harbor.
In Colombo meanwhile, the government said ten rebels had been killed ina military raid yesterday on a guerrilla base at eastern Mutur, correcting an earlier figure of seven dead.
Police commandos also destroyed camp belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam guerrilla group in thick jungle in eastern Sri Lanka today, killing three men. One policeman died in the fighting.
The Indian spokesman said Indian High Commissioner Jyotindra Nath Dixit, horridly summoned to New Delhi on Thursday by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for discussions on the ethnic crisis, was expected to return tomorrow.
New Delhi has been acting as a mediator between the majority Sinhalese and Tamil guerrillas, particularly the Tigers’ group, who are demanding a separate state in northern and eastern areas.
Article extracted from this publication >> July 3, 1987