Sri Lanka is not an Indian colony | By Tanvir Ur Rehman

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Sri Lanka is not an Indian colony

SOUTH Asia is the mosaic of fragmented tendencies on account of its religious, cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversities.

South Asia nations share more or less a common inheritance with some degree of mutual cultural, linguistic, social, ethnic and the historical bonds.

Sri Lanka in South Asia is one of such states remained the most disturbed and troubled on the ethnic lines and its nature remained variegated consisting of the ethnic conflicts, the separatist tendencies and terrorism.

But these were the conditions Island nation was facing before 2006. In 2006, after failure of numerous efforts to resolve ethnic issues peacefully with guerrilla organization Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Sri Lankan government opted for a full-fledge operation to eliminate terrorism once and for all.

Indeed, LTTE entered negotiations five times, between 1983 to 2006, but talks always collapsed, leaving an ostensibly stronger LTTE even better positioned to defeat government forces.

In 2006, sensing victory in its grasp, LTTE deliberately ended the Norwegian-brokered truce and commenced the so-called Eelam War IV.

In response, Sri Lanka finally decided to change its strategic objective, from negotiating with LTTE to defeating it.

Rather than boosting the morale of Sri Lankan government Indian Lieutenant General AS Kalkat in 2006 derogatory declared, that Sri Lanka Army cannot win the war against Tamil insurgents as doesn’t possess capacity to do so.

As per Reuters’ report Indian government at that time not only criticized Sri Lanka’s escalation of its war with the Tamil Tigers, but nearly 40 of its legislators threaten Indian PM Manmohan Singh that they would quit parliament if he didn’t stop the conflict in two weeks.

This indicates that Indian government was against the elimination of Tamil Tigers which was already proscribed as a terrorists organisation, not only by Sri Lankan government but also by EU along with 32 other countries.

It was not the first time when Indian government openly supported Tamil Tigers. In 1983, when a war was erupted between the Sinhalese majority and Sri Lankan Tamils, India Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at that time took an active role.

It not only hosted Tamil militants but also facilitate them with training camps in Tamil Nadu, from which LTTE emerged as the most lethal group.

It was just a start of India’s blatant interference in internal affairs of a sovereign country. India’s growing desire to establish itself as a regional power, urged incumbent Indian government on June 4, 1987, to airdrop relief supplies to the Tamil Tigers at Jaffna Peninsula while they were under siege by the Sri Lankan army.

To avoid imminent threat of a direct Indian intervention, which Sri Lankan leadership was foreseeing, Sri Lankan President at that time J.R. Jayewardene held talks with India that produced the July 29, 1987, Indo-Sri Lanka Accord.

The infamous 13th Amendment, which India time and again has been pressing Island nation to implement, was also introduced after the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement of 1987. It proposes the establishment of a provincial council system and devolution of power to Tamil community.

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, who arrived in Sri Lanka on Saturday on a four-day visit, met leaders from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC).

During separate meeting with Tamil leaders he reaffirmed India’s commitment and urged Sri Lankan government to protect the rights minority Tamil community through the full implementation of the 13thAmendment as well as early convening of Provincial Council elections and achieving reconciliation.

India has been consistently forcing Sri Lanka to fulfill its commitments to protect the interests of the Tamil community.

Before Harsh Vardhan, EAM Jaishankar earlier in January, during his visit to Colombo also urged Sri Lanka to ensure that aspirations of the minority Tamils are addressed.

First of all, 1987 accord should be considered as null and void because it failed to bring peace to the island country and Sri Lankan government was forced to eliminate Tamil Tigers through military action.

Secondly the Sinhala community which are in majority, have been advocating a total abolition of the island’s Provincial Council system established in 1987.

As per the laws of United Nations, it is right of the Sri Lankan people to draft and implement laws of the land. India has no right to dictate Sri Lankan leadership on 13th amendment or anything else.

India is concerned that Rajapaksa regime’s increasing tilt towards China may prove to be counterproductive for Delhi.

This is one of the main reasons for current Shringla’s visit to Sri Lanka as to evaluate the primary reasons behind delaying of certain key projects being executed by India, while those being overseen by China run smoothly.

Shringla’s meeting with Tamil leaders and later on issuing such harsh statement regarding 13th amendment, indicates that Sri Lankan government has refused to toe Indian line.

India since 2009 has maintained a dual policy, urging Sri Lanka to reach a political deal to address Tamil grievances on one hand, meanwhile, formally proscribing the LTTE as a terrorist group on the other.

Since the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lankan state has been subject to much global criticism for HRVs as a result of committing war crimes against Tamils.

In a recent past, when Sri Lanka was in dire needs of votes at UNHRC platform to avoid sanctions regarding war crimes, countries like Pakistan and China voted in favor of Sri Lanka. However, India’s abstain at that time, speaks volumes of its hypocritical nature.

As per the reports of Indian media in February 2021, Tripura chief minister Biplab Deb revealed that Amit Shah has plans to establish BJP governments in Nepal and Sri Lanka.

This was opposed by both the nations at highest diplomatic level. However, the statement speaks loud and clear about Indian expansionist ambitions towards the neighbouring states.

It is in Sri Lanka’s own interest to resolve the issue of Tamils as per the expectations of the Tamil people but a country like India, famous for her imperialist agenda, has no right to dictate a sovereign nation like Sri Lanka, especially in her internal matters.

—The writer is a PhD scholar, based in Islamabad.

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