Lanka extends disappearance probe mandate to cover Indian Army stay

Colombo: The mandate of a Sri Lankan panel probing disappearances during the country’s civil war has been extended by another seven years, allowing it to review the period when the Indian Peace Keeping Forces (IPKF) were deployed in the island.
The three-member Commission was initially mandated to probe disappearances of individuals from 1990 to 2009 in Sri Lanka’s former northern and eastern conflict zones.
“The time period of the Presidential Commission to inquire into cases of alleged disappearances of persons in the Northern and Eastern Provinces has been amended to cover the period from 1983 to 2009,” a statement from President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s office said Wednesday.
The decision came a day ahead of a possible voting at the United Nations Human Rights Council on a US-backed resolution demanding accountability for thousands of deaths of ethnic Tamil civilians five years ago.
The conduct of IPKF had figured in the public complaints received by the panel during hearing in the conflict zone. The panel had dismissed complaints against the IPKF citing lack of purview as the prescribed period under their terms of reference was 1990 and 2009. The IPKF was invited by the then Sri Lankan President JR Jayawardene as a result of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of July 1987.
Meant to be peace keepers supervising a truce between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government, they were soon fighting the rebel group in bloody clashes.
India lost nearly 1,200 troops during the conflict.
The 40,000 Indian troops had swelled to about 70,000 before they departed the island in March 1990.—PTI