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The US-sponsored draft resolution against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council is a diplomatic challenge that New Delhi must meet with clarity and resolve, keeping in mind both the humanitarian question and the importance of bilateral ties with Colombo. The resolution, to be tabled at the UNHRC later this month, comes in the wake of the recovery of photographs that suggest that slain LTTE leader Prabhakaran's son was killed in cold blood. The photographs have sparked anger in Tamil Nadu and in Parliament, and pressure is being mounted for India to vote for the resolution. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the decision would depend on the resolution's content. At the same time, he has emphasised the need for urgent political devolution to the Northern Provincial Council and a "time-bound implementation" of the recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission report to ensure "equality, dignity, justice and self-respect" for Sri Lankan Tamils.
Last year, India had voted against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and drawn criticism for it in Colombo. At home, the government was accused of buckling under pressure from the competitive political mobilisations in Tamil Nadu on the issue. When the military campaign against the LTTE had entered its final phase in the summer of 2009, India had hoped that at conflict's end, Colombo would be generous in victory and implement constitutional changes to secure the rights of the Tamil minority. As the years passed, it has increasingly looked like Colombo is not keeping its promises. Delhi must, once again, nudge Colombo towards reconciliation with the Tamils. It must also remember that the bilateral relationship is larger than this issue.
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