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Tamils Win Partial Rule in Sri Lanka

November 12, 1987|Reuters

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — The Sri Lankan Parliament today granted the Tamil minority limited autonomy in one-third of the country, just hours after Tamil guerrillas set off a land mine under a bus, killing 25 people.

The government pushed the controversial legislation through Parliament with a two-thirds majority despite protests by hard-line majority Sinhalese and unrest across the island in which 100 people died this week. The bus attack occurred in Cheddikulam in the northwestern district of Mannar. All the victims were Tamils, a military spokesman said.

The opposition Freedom Party denounced the legislation, saying that President Junius Jayewardene had turned Sri Lanka into a pawn of India when he signed a peace accord with Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in July.

Indian Troops Number 20,000

The peace accord committed India to disarm the Tamil guerrillas and supervise the implementation of the pact. At least 20,000 Indian troops are involved in the offensive against the Tamils which the government hopes will be over by December.

Freedom Party leader Anura Bandaranaike told Parliament before the vote that Jayewardene had betrayed the country.

He said the peace pact with Gandhi had resulted only in "carnage, tears, destruction and blood."

The autonomy deal, he said, would give the Tamils, who make up just 13% of the island's 16 million people, 30% of the land and 60% of its coastline.

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