New Delhi: India on Sunday said it expected Sri Lanka to "act decisively" to achieve meaningful devolution of powers to its provinces in the backdrop of the military operation against the LTTE.

In its first comments on the report of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), India also asked Sri Lanka to set up an "independent and credible" mechanism to
probe allegations of human rights violations.

"The LLRC report has underlined that the present situation provides a great window of opportunity to forge a consensual way forward towards reconciliation through a political settlement based on devolution of power," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vishnu Prakash said.

Pointing out that the LLRC report expects the Government to provide leadership to a political process, he said India hoped that Sri Lanka "recognising the critical importance of
this issue acts decisively and with vision in this regard."

Prakash also underlined the implementation of the assurances given in the LLRC report to ensure speedy resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDP) would mark a major step forward in the process of reconciliation.

"Implementation of assurances to ensure speedy resettlement and genuine reconciliation, including early completion of the process of the return of IDPs and refugees to their respective homes, restoration of normal civilian life in affected areas would mark a major step forward in the process of reconciliation," he said.

The report of the LLRC, set up against the backdrop of allegations of military excesses in the operation against the LTTE, was tabled in the Sri Lankan Parliament by the government on December 16.

Welcoming the public release of the LLRC report, Prakash said India "takes note of the assurance given by the Government of Sri Lanka in Parliament about implementation of
many of its recommendations."

Prakash said India has noted Sri Lanka's intention to set up a mechanism to carry out further investigations relating to instances of alleged human rights violations and incidents involving loss of civilian life.

"It is important to ensure that an independent and credible mechanism is put in place to investigate allegations of human rights violations, as brought out the LLRC, in a
time-bound manner," he said.

He noted that the LLRC has recommended various constructive measures for addressing issues related to healing the wounds of the conflict and fostering a process of lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

"In particular, we have noted the proposed measures pertaining to information on missing persons and detainees, investigation of cases of disappearances and abductions, promotion of a trilingual policy, deployment of Tamil-speaking officers in all offices," he said.

He noted that the report also suggests measures for curbing activities of illegal armed groups, reduction of high security zones, return of private lands by the military and demilitarisation, including phasing out of the involvement of the security forces in civilian activities and restoration of civilian administration in the Northern Province, he said.

"We have noted the assurance given by the Government of Sri Lanka in Parliament that it will ensure the withdrawal of security forces from all aspects of community life and confine their role exclusively to security matters," Prakash said.

Prakash said the report recognised that a political solution was imperative to address the root cause of the conflict.

He said the report noted that the Government should provide leadership to a political process which must be pursued for the purpose of establishing a framework for ensuring sustainable peace and security in the post-conflict environment.
 
"In this context, we have been assured by the Government of Sri Lanka on several occasions in the past, of its commitment towards pursuit of a political process, through a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil National Alliance, leading to the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, and to go beyond, so as to achieve meaningful devolution of powers and genuine national reconciliation," Prakash said.

"We will remain engaged with them through this process and offer our support in the spirit of partnership," he said.

(Agencies)