Tell Colombo to halt fighting: Karunanidhi urges centre (Lead)

Chennai, April 21 (Inditop) Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi Tuesday asked the Indian government to issue an ultimatum to Sri Lanka for “an immediate and permanent ceasefire” in its military offensive against the Tamil Tigers hours after the rebels failed to meet the noon deadline to surrender issued by the island nation.

The telegram read: “The war situation in Sri Lanka is alarming and the predicament of the Tamils very critical. (As) all nations including the UN have pressurised the Sri Lankan government to announce ceasefire immediately. I insist the prime minister, UPA chairperson and external affairs minister give an ultimatum to the Sri Lankan government for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Sri Lanka and save lakhs of Tamils in Sri Lanka.”

The request, sent as a telegram to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee came within hours of the expiry at noon Tuesday of the 24-hour deadline issued to the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam leader V. Prabhakaran by Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government said the terrorist outfit had failed to heed its request and is expected to go all out against the banned outfit.

Prabhakaran is said to be hiding in the rebel-held territory in the northern part of war-torn Sri Lanka. Reports from Colombo had said earlier that the capture or suicide of Prabhakaran was imminent.

Meanwhile, over 45,000 Tamils are reported to have fled the rebel-held areas in Mullaitivu, the Sri Lankan government said.