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'IPKF role in Sri Lanka questioned at disappearance commission'

( February 22, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The conduct of the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka 25 years ago was the subject of a complaint received by a government commission probing disappearances of persons during the country's civil war.

A senior panel official, who did not want to be named said that the solitary complaint against the IPKF was received early this week, when the panel held a hearing in the north.

"However the complaint relates to a period outside the panel's purview," the official said.

The official added that the panel may consider widening its scope to cover incidents related to the IPKF if more complaints were to be received.

The IPKF was invited by the then Sri Lankan President J R Jayawardene as a result of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of July 1987 which he signed with then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The Indian troops numbering around 40,000 who initially arrived in the former battle zones had peaked to about 70,000 when they departed from Sri Lanka in March 1990.

Meant to be peace keepers supervising a truce between the LTTE and government troops, the IPKF were soon fighting the LTTE in bloody clashes and lost nearly 1,200 soldiers.

The three-member commission was mandated to inquire into and report on alleged abductions or disappearances during the period from June 10, 1990 to May 19, 2009 when Sri Lankan troops launched the final military campaign that led to the defeat of the LTTE and ended the civil war.

Sri Lanka faces a third resolution in as many years next month at the UNHRC session censuring the country on its lack of progress on human rights accountability and reconciliation with the Tamil minority after the civil war ended. Both the earlier resolutions were supported by India.

Colombo fears that the resolution may eventually lead to an independent international probe on Sri Lanka's alleged war crimes during the final phase of the military battle.

An estimated 100,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka's separatist ethnic conflict between 1972 and 2009, according to the UN.

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