NEW DELHI // New Delhi is under conflicting domestic and international pressures over a UN resolution that reprimands Sri Lanka on its human-rights record.
Early drafts of the resolution, sponsored by the United States, criticise violations of human rights against Tamils in Sri Lanka, including "enforced disappearances, extra-judicial killings, torture" and threats to journalists and activists.
The resolution also urges Sri Lanka to implement the recommendations of an internal commission that investigated alleged war crimes committed by the army, as well as the defeated Tamil Tiger rebels, during the final months of the civil war in 2009.
The war ended after government forces crushed the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting for a separate state for Tamils in the island's north and east regions. Tamils and rights' groups have said that tens of thousands went missing during the war, allegedly at the hands of government security forces.
This week, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) session in Geneva is expected to introduce for debate and decision the non-binding resolution on Sri Lanka. India's vote is widely seen by human-rights' observers as influential due to Delhi's political and cultural ties to Colombo, Sri Lanka's largest city.
But India is being pulled in different directions by its domestic politics, pressure from human-rights' defenders, and the demands of realpolitik.
The government has been evasive on which way it will vote, although one indication is that India voted for a similar UN council resolution last March.
"It is too early to say what sort of stance India will take on the US resolution," V Narayanaswamy, a junior minister attached to the prime minister's office, said last week. "The country will take the right decision at the right time."
The Sri Lankan government has been fiercely critical of the resolution, calling it "intrusive and political in nature". Ravinatha Aryasinha, Sri Lanka's permanent representative to the UN, said "paying disproportionate attention towards Sri Lanka is unwarranted".
Sri Lanka's foreign secretary, Karunatillaka Amunugama, told the Xinhua news agency last week: "Of course we will remain hopeful that India will back us. Even we are waiting to see what their response is."
But New Delhi is under intense pressure at home to vote in favour of the resolution. The ruling Congress party is keen to satisfy the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), a political party from Tamil Nadu that is a key member of India's central governing coalition. It has stated its solidarity with Sri Lanka's Tamils and particularly with the Tamil civilians who were killed by the Sri Lankan army during the war. It has threatened to pull out of the coalition if the Indian government does not vote for the resolution.
"If this request is not heeded, it will be meaningless for the DMK to continue in the central government," a statement from M Karunanidhi, the DMK chief, said on Friday.
Other Tamil groups in India are also in favour of the resolution. Student groups across Tamil Nadu have organised hunger strikes and demonstrations, shouting slogans against the Sri Lankan government.
Peer Mohamed, a Chennai-based political analyst, said the Congress would be keen to regain lost ground in Tamil Nadu. "The party has lost its relevance in the state," he said. "This is the pressure the Congress is facing."
Human rights groups have also been arguing for the international community to step up pressure on Sri Lanka.
Maja Daruwalla, the director of the New Delhi-based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), an independent non-profit organisation, pointed to Sri Lanka's recent violations of its constitutional democracy, such as its impeachment in January of its chief justice, as cause for concern.
Ms Daruwalla has been campaigning for the CHRI to shift a November meeting of its heads of governments out of Colombo.
"The prospect of a glittering international summit is always going to be projected by the government as a major endorsement on the international stage, even if the concerns expressed in the conference itself and the negative sentiments are disguised," Ms Daruwalla said. "It is a wonderful PR opportunity for the Sri Lankan government and valuable for a regime like Sri Lanka."
But India is reluctant to alienate a close neighbour by voting against it, or to drive Sri Lanka further into the arms of China, according to a Colombo-based human rights lawyer, who asked to have her name withheld.
Last year, after India voted for the UNHRC resolution, it was lambasted in Sri Lanka.
An editorial in The Island newspaper in Sri Lanka called India "the loser in Geneva". The Daily News, a state-run paper in Sri Lanka, accused the supporters of the resolution of trying to "disempower and undermine" the country.
The Colombo lawyer said India would also be wary of voting for any resolution that supports international pressure on domestic issues "because that could then come back to bite India in the rear."