New Delhi: Ahead of a crucial vote at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Sri Lanka sought India’s support by dialing Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This was one of the key points discussed during the telephonic conversation between PM Modi and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Saturday (March 13, 2021).

Sri Lanka is facing the heat at UNHRC over human rights violations during the civil war with Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. The 46th session of the UNHRC is underway and will continue till March 23 and several times matters related to Sri Lanka have been raised.

Voting will take place on March 22  and March 23 on a resolution against Sri Lanka at the Human Rights Council.

Last month, after the report of the office of the high commissioner for Human Rights on Sri Lanka was placed, India’s envoy to UN in Geneva, Indra Mani Pandey said that tough the assessment of the high commissioner raises important concern but pointed out that Sri Lankan government has articulated its position and the evaluation of both of these, should be guided by a commitment to find a lasting and effective solution.

During the same statement by India’s envoy in Geneva called for respecting the rights of the Tamil community through meaningful devolution and to contribute directly to the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka.

Though, this is not for the first time that Sri Lanka has requested Indian support on UNHRC.

The telephonic conversation, which took place at the request of Sri Lanka, also saw discussions on the COVID-19 crisis.

A press release by the PM Modi’s office in New Delhi stated that the leaders reviewed “topical developments and the ongoing cooperation between both countries in bilateral and multilateral forums”. Both sides agreed to “maintain regular contact between relevant officials” which includes in the context of the “continuing COVID-19 challenges.”

Further, it added, “Prime Minister reiterated the importance of Sri Lanka to India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy.”

India has so far sent Sri Lanka 12.64 lakh doses of India-made COVID-19 vaccines. Of these, 5 lakh doses have been gifted, 5 lakhs sent commercially, and 2.64 lakh via COVAX. 

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