20 October, 2021

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China-India Geopolitics In Jaffna’s Islands: Fishermen Suffer; India Watches

By N. Lohathayalan

Power Generation: An Excuse for China’s Entry to the North

As China vies for a foothold on islands East of the Jaffna peninsula, India is flexing its muscles to have its own influence on the islands. China in Hambantota is one thing. But in Jaffna? It appears that those affected would be Northern fishermen.

Environment friendly multi-source power generation units were planned in the year 2017 using solar, wind, and battery sources, besides fossil fuels. The intention is to supply the islands of Neduntivu, Analaithivu and Nainathivu. The idea is to supply their workplaces with essentially clean and independent supplies.

A model of the generating station is presently operating in Analaithivu. Upon approval of funding from the Asian Development Bank, to advance to the next stage, project proposals were sought from institutions of international standing and quality. Even though there were many applications the cabinet at its meeting on 18 Jan. 2021 decided to award the contract to China’s M/s Sino Soar Hybrid (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd. It appears from the decision that Sino Soar was favoured without regard to the figure quoted or technical competency of the company as in the cabinet minute shown:

It appears further that Monument at Jaffna University for the war victims was demolished on the orders of higherups as stated by the Vice Chancellor and the order to rebuild came about because of Indian pressure. This award also “has come under Indian scrutiny and having rushed the decision without justification the government is wondering what to do,” said a knowledgeable source.

The Chinese Target Jaffna’s Islands

There is no doubt that the people living on the islands would have adequate electricity from this project. However, China’s foothold just 20 km from India would surely intensify geopolitical wrangling between India and China to the detriment of the people in the locale, the people of Jaffna. There is also little doubt that, knowing with certainty that as a result India would assert its right over Kachchai Thivu, there is growing concern over why Sri Lanka decided to award the job to Chana’s Sino Soar Hybrid.  Overcoming the several objections if Sri Lanka gives China foothold on the islands, India surely would use the ongoing protests by Indian fishermen to take back Kachchai Thivu to apply pressure on Sri Lanka, says a geopolitical analyst. There are signs that it is already happening. This year’s Kachchai Thivu festival has been stopped. Next year’s festival, Indian stakeholders teasingly remind us, is under India’s organization. Whatever happens, much of the repercussion of any dispute would fall on the fisherfolk of Jaffna. The people of Jaffna are acutely mindful of this.

These are times when the Minister of Fisheries, Mr. Douglas Dvananda, is treated by the government as the representative of the Northern Province. This has raised the question in many minds why he has shown no concern over the problem and is waiting for things to boil over. Many suspect that it is because if he sides with the fishermen the government would be displeased, and if he sides with the government his vote base will be hurt. 

Under this scheme environmentally friendly electricity generation is to take place. For these power plants land has already been allocated on the islands. Plans have been made and drawings finalized.  However, acknowledging that the lands are private, the plans are not final yet. In Neduntivu, 12 acres of land have been assigned in Thirulingapuram in Neluvili. Electricity connections have been given.

This pilot plant is seen as a two-year project. It can generate electricity only in kilowatts (and not megawatts) because it is claimed that the needs can be met with kilowatts. This is where the rub is. India, say knowledgeable people, is suspicious about these claims having become aware that its concerns and fears about real motives actuating Sri Lanka are shared in the whole district. Some say that both countries, India and China, are difficult to please as whatever is given to them they feel as if they have been fed bitter margosa oil. 

There is little doubt that India would be deeply upset when China is allowed to move to within 20 km of India’s border. Why did Sri Lanka agree to these plants knowing that India would be deeply disturbed? Tamils are in deep fear that it is they who will bear the brunt of any problems between the giants and Sri Lanka’s trigger-happy armed forces.

India Fears that Letting Go of Kachchai Thivu would Harm its Geo-strategic Position

India which stations its troops on its borders with China and Pakistan would be pushed to station troops along the Tamil Nadu coast. This would be costly and also weaken India as troops in the North are diluted and moved South. 

India’s problem got accentuated on 18 Jan. 2021. A boat belonging to 4 Indian fishermen was registered in the town of Jegatab. The boatmen were stationed in Rameswaram. On that day, between Neduntheevu and Kachchaithivu, 8 nautical miles West of Neduntheevu, the boat was rammed or otherwise hit by one of the Sri Lankan navy’s Devora craft and sunk. The four men on board lost their lives. Indian fishermen report that the Indian fishing trawler had a wireless set and had asked for help from other trawlers in the area. Ominously Indian fishermen also report that there were at least three navy seacraft present in the area.

As the incident occurred, the Sri Lankan navy released the information that one of their Dvora craft had sunk. They backed the claim with photos. This prompted Indian fishermen to come up to the sea borders with Sri Lanka on the 19th in search of their men. On the 20th morning 15 fishermen on three boats  went in search. They were informed by Sri Lankan navy personnel on a boat with the letters P420 that all 4 men had been rescued and that they should therefore go back. So assured the men gave up their search operations and returned to Tamil Nadu. They were stunned to hear later that evening that their friends’ bodies had been recovered, said Fishermen’ Association head Jesurajah, who added that they suspected some foul play.

Tamil Nadu Fisherfolk ask for Justice for their Dead

It was established that those who died in the Dvora ramming were Tamil Nadu fishermen. One of the bodies recovered on the 20th was established as that of a Jaffna’s Gurunagar man. He had fled to India in 2009 because his life was in danger here. This young man was living as a refugee in Mandapam. He had joined the unfortunate crew of this boat on a daily-wage basis for that day. The bodies of the remaining two were recovered on the 21st. It is a matter of further suspicion that the navy men on the Dvora who suffered no losses could not save the unfortunate four and then on top of that took three days from the 18th to the 21st to recover the bodies.

Indian fishermen protest that Sri Lanka’s navy is stopping them from fishing in places where they have fished for generations. In protest they plan to carry out a protest demonstration tomorrow 22nd and are preparing their boats with black flags. On the basis of these disturbances geostrategies that centre on the international sphere are shifting to Jaffna. India is asserting its rights ad safety. A person well-versed in geostrategies held forth that asserting the rights of fishermen to fish in Kachchai Thivu would make their income fall drastically: “it is our life earnings that will fall and the sense of deprivation will be enhanced in Tamil Nadu”. This spokesman-strategist figures that it will be Tamil Nadu people who will turn bitter. To avoid this, this strategist felt, India would try its best to assuage the feelings of Tamils by assigning space in India for the protests.

In these circumstances, the Sri Lankan navy stated that their Dvora craft had crashed into the Indian vessel on the 18th and that the 4 Indians aboard had lost their lives and further that their bodies had washed ashore in the Kachchai Thivu area. So reporting, the Navy tried to make arrangements to hand over the bodies to the Indian Coast Guard in mid-sea. However, India asked for the bodies to be handed over together with a postmortem report. As a result, this trouble bodes ill and the bodies have been taken to Jaffna. Indian fishermen are said to be in a rage.

Sri Lanka is continually upsetting India like this, but Sri Lanka seems emboldened by the support it gets from China. As many countries eye a piece of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka too seems to try to gain from foreign overtures like China’s without bothering about implications to its sovereignty. That is playing with fire, say analysts.

Already in the northeast the ethnic distribution is being altered through Sinhalese settlements, Buddhist temple erections and land acquisitions. Said an observer that he would not be surprised if China, India and even Pakistan poke their fingers into this troubled ethnic cauldron fomented by China, thereby provoking the beginning of a geopolitical competition for a foothold. 

India’s Special Interest

Unlike for China, Jaffna is India’s backyard. Any military activity in Jaffna would hurt the people of India but not China. Said a political analyst, “India cannot let go. It has a justifiable right to insist on its safety in this matter. No reasonable person can deny this pre-eminence to India in its backyard.” Sri Lanka is asking for trouble in making trouble for India in the name of its sovereignty. Concluded the political analyst, “Those who play with fire get burnt.”

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Latest comments

  • 10
    3

    “Jaffna is India’s backyard”
    Is it? From when?

    • 5
      3

      N. Lohathayalan

      “Jaffna is India’s backyard”

      Whether Gota like it or not as far as Hindians are concerned Sri Lanka is the Sinhala state of Hindia.

    • 2
      5

      Of course it is. Get real SJ.

      Hold a referendum in the northern province and ask them if they wish to be part of SL or India. You know the response.

      • 2
        1

        they would not want to be part of either, rather go alone.

      • 0
        0

        I cannot hold the referendum you want.
        Have you conducted any survey to be so sure?

  • 3
    4

    India, in whatever she does, should be mindful of fact that majority of Tamils live OUTSIDE nothern peninsula.

    Soma

  • 3
    3

    Hasn’t India bought power plants from China?
    How much of India’s telecommunications infrastructure built by Huawei and ZTE?
    Why India doesn’t bid for international tenders and later blame China?

    Soma

    • 2
      2

      Power plants from China are located in Tamil Nadu.

  • 4
    2

    There is a large fishing stock in the Palk Strait. Unfortunately Indian fishermen harvest it. SL must bring Chinese fishing fleets into this region to fish with the requirement to share part of the harvest with SL fisheries corporation.

    That is the only viable solution. Utopian solutions do not work.

    • 0
      2

      It is just not Tamil Nadu fishing boats but including all the way to Anthra trawlers have been fishing in our waters for very many many years because we have been two busy fighting falling pray to the devils work in the first place.

      What we need is a strong coast guard for the entire territorial waters for the protection of all the resources/sea pollution/shipping lane managements etc.

      The entire Jaffna Youth can be employed in this activity fully trained as well as the respective area coastal youth too. They can support the SL Navy 24/7.

      UN can help with the rest asking Indian Navy and Coast guard to play their part.

    • 3
      1

      Unfortunately Indian fishermen harvest it.
      What is unfortunate about blatant robbery?
      *
      You have a knack for daft, yet provocative, proposals.

  • 2
    3

    “Irappanai Piduchutham Parai Piranthu!
    TGTE is playing Vadivalue Comedy these days. Indian Navy is struggling to save its fishermen from Lankawe Rapist Navy. TGTE is asking to erect a replacement for UOJ memorial for the Mullivaaikkaal Genocide in Marina Beech. Instead, We can ask Lemon Puff, Rear Admirable, Communist Pakkaya & Deva to erect a memorial for the 750 TN Fishermen killed in the West side sea by Rapist Navy. That may console Tamils in TN. What Lankawe doing is retaliation for a Pariah Demulu FAM coming to Lankawe and telling them what to do. That is why Lankawe Aanduwa ordered VC Satkunaraja to demolish the memorial. What is the point there in building a new memorial in Chennai? On ceremonial days, will India come and pick up the relatives on Chidambaram Ship? Comedy Thamai!

  • 1
    3

    Dear NL

    Thank you for the Indian Samparu..rather a TN version am sure Indian Defense Ministry will take note of your concern where they have to manage their 1.3 billion peoples army between various boarders etc. If you can be patient for another week there will be lot more mouth to feed you can show them the good fishing grounds etc…breeding is a past time….living beyond ones means?

    I am a Jaffna man and a reasonably qualified analysts myself and my Samparu recipe is very different and is patented under Sri Lankan sovereignty thank you. You should ask Indian Navy to preserve the maritime borders and keep an eye on the thief’s please.

    • 1
      2

      Highlight of your “political analysis” that a Sri Lankan fisherman settled in India and now fishing in SL waters has been the problem where our history has been rewritten by this coastal villages connections and their illegal activities goes back to “our National Security” blunders since 1970…maybe you should ask the Colombo based mercenary outfit PLOTE (TNA) to comment.

      Before then it was only limited to Textile and Spice smuggling that undermined our Nations progress later the same coastal folks were trained to kill their fellow country men/arms and explosive and now drug smugglers….perhaps UN should park a ship permanently should be your case making as a SL patriot?

      • 1
        2

        There should counter protest in Jaffna in support of the SL Navy having to waste their time on keeping the thief’s out of SL waters in front of the Indian Embassy in Jaffna and Colombo and should be organised by TNA???? Even a fasting by PLOTE cadres/freedom fighters and TNA MP’s will help to preserve our resources for Jaffna fisherman…a missing link/lack of interest in their future is noted with dismay??

        Some of TNA lawyers should explain to the masses and to the world the legal points relating to the SL territorial waters and SL fisherman’s rights ?? are they all busy doing private practise getting paid by the tax man at the same time as MP’s as well??

        You can also explain why you are not paying attention to Hon MP Douglas and his roll play as a Fisheries Rep?

  • 1
    3

    The Sinhala Security Forces are STILL behaving they are above the law and are inhuman when they deal with Tamil civilians. They need to be retrained in order to treat Tamils as equal. SL is not going far without treating MINORITIES with due care and respect.

  • 1
    2

    If you could write about the life story of this said Sri Lankan man settled in India who was fishing with the Indians will be an interesting article we can analysis/fact check and learn something as to what is really happening here??

    His birth place/how long he has lived in India/his family?/his current nationality/if he lived in India for certain period is he holding an Indian passport?? if not why not?? etc.

    Through ones life story (real investigative writing with actual facts) we can all pay tribute to him by understanding his life journey will also help the investigations where we find permanent solutions?

    All other geopolitics/development plans we do and have to manage in SL has nothing to do with India nor this fishing boat incident has anything to do with geopolitics??

    If this is so then the last 70 years of SL fisheries being looted by the Indians (before China ever existed) could not be explained?? On a better day I will tell you more about the same South Indian coastal village expansionism/looting that is happening under various “work permits” to several other Asian countries too.

  • 1
    1

    So much about India’s soverignty, Sri Lanka’s soverignty, but where is Tamil people’s soverignty?
    Jaffna is no body’s backyard.
    Tamil people, particulary a section of Tamil nationalists, have been blindly going after India to solve their problems. For too long, India had taken Tamils for granted.

    • 3
      2

      What choice Tamils have? Either SL or India. The last time Tamils went against both, they got hammered. Remember?

      • 3
        2

        JADAM

        “What choice Tamils have? Either SL or India.”

        Don’t be stupid.
        The Tamil Saivaites have a protector Kali Amma in the White House.

        Now it is up to Sinhala/Buddhist to find a patron deity Huniyan Deviyo in White House.

  • 3
    6

    Just like ECT India will have to take back Katchaithivu

    • 3
      4

      51% of ECT is with SL government. No decision can be made without their agreement. SL government will use the ECT deal to extract favours from India. ECT handles trans-shipments to and from India. The deal is a choke point against India.

      Don’t be surprised if SL’s 51% includes Chinese representatives.

      • 0
        2

        I always said we will be the deal makers for India and China or they are both playing us in super power style.

        • 0
          1

          Either way it is the kamasutra orgy business being shafted from the front and the back….they are going to take all their “impenetrable” Himalayan range for their fights in their borders and relive it on us in SL?? Do you think Sri Lankans are ready for this in a good way now?

      • 0
        2

        Fathima,
        Indian Company is a private company. It can make a bargain with China for a good profit for the 49% shares. Other than that Lankawe will give all kind of pain to Indian Company to run the ECT. Other way is handsomely taking care of the Royal Family.

    • 3
      1

      Tamils in Sinhala majority provinces will be settled in Katchaithivu.

      Soma

      • 0
        1

        Nop that is for the hill country Tamils and the other islands are for the resettlement’s of the southern Tamils back to their home land in Jaffna.

        We will allow some Sinhalese families to live amongst this lot in Jaffna as they can not live without you Soma. I will take this as a complement…as even the UN is grappling with this criteria why all the Tamils have not returned to Jaffna after the war when they been told you lot are so bad and terrible people since Independence??

      • 2
        2

        soman

        “Tamils in Sinhala majority provinces will be settled in Katchaithivu.”

        Perhaps it is most suitable for kallathonie Sinhala/Buddhist converts.

        • 0
          0

          NV
          So why are you asking Hindia to take it back?

          Soma

  • 1
    2

    Few days ago, the Pariah Demulu, Dr. Jeysankar came to Colombo to show off his colors. Now Tamil Fishermen are paying the price. Ideally Dr. Jeysankar should stay out of Lankawe, instead of going there and creating turmoil where Indian government has no prowess to manage it. Not just in TN, all over In India, these low caste fishermen are unwanted crowd. Nobody wants their votes even if they beg to vote for somebody. In Karunadhi’s time the Rapist Navy Whiteboated & kept 20 TN Fishermen, including a small boy, in one dungeon and years later, exchanged for Lankan prisoners. Karunanidhi’s government taught all returning fishermen to tell in TN that they were kidnapped by LTTE. All the grown up men did the way TN Q – Division trained. But the small child told the reporters that they were Whiteboated by Rapist Navy and kept in a dungeon. Then the boy, with parents vanished away somewhere, from TN. Now we hear the engineers have to open all 12 sluice gates of Iranaimadu because of crybaby Deva’s tears for the four Indian Fishermen’s murder. To save the Royal Aanduwa, Deva is learning to beat Nadikar Thilakam Sivaji Ganesan in acting for compassionate characters. Dramatists! Rotten, cheating Rascals!

  • 1
    2

    After the OISL investigation, BBC showed small clip of Rapist Navy torturing and murdering unarmed Tamils by the name of LTTE, and asked Rajiva, who was a minister that time, “why the Rapist Police won’t arrest those perpetrators?” The Smart Sinhala Buddhist Intellectual asked back BBC anchorage “Come On, who can find out these guys within the 250,000 soldiers strong Army? After all they are LTTEyers, wearing Rapist Army Fatigue and torturing the rebels to bring bad name for Rapist Army.” Last week, Out of 350 Million people, DC police and FBA has already arrested 100s of White Supremacist for insurrection on January 6th. As soon as police appealed for help in public media, many times, it was the loved ones, like children, parents & siblings who identified their family members within in the rioters and called the police. The Paramilitary Boss Deva, instead of over flooding the already flooded Jaffna, but strictly instruct the Rapist Navy to interdict Rapist Navy men who were in all three sea crafts which partook in sinking the fishermen & their boat until the Rapist Navy members are cleared for the death of TN Fishermen, by a Sinhala Jury Only Court. Ignoring the central government, Dr. Jaysankar and PM Modi, the TN government should take this matter to ICJ for compensation for the death their citizens.

  • 4
    1

    Natural resources, including fish, in the ocean between India and Sri Lanka must be shared with the Indians. Over-fishing should be controlled, and permission granted in a controlled manner, but its not fair to block Indian fishermen from fishing in Srilankan waters, when there are over a billion Indians and we are only 20 million. Our navy could be used for something better than going after poor Indian fishermen who desperately need the fish.

    • 2
      2

      Punchi Point a few days ago:
      “India is a useless country run by ultra nationalists who have a bloated ego, and think they are like USA. The only thing the Indians have achieved is to multiply like rats and pollute the environment – half its population is starving and living in slums”
      What are you smoking? I hope it doesn’t make you multiply.

      • 1
        1

        Looks like you have missed the point as usual…

  • 3
    1

    Indian government, Tamil Nadu government and Modi can’t be trusted. They are playing cunning tricks on Sri Lanka. It is suspected that India who’s really behind the UN resolutions and international pressure on Sri Lanka.

    Ramachandran and Karunanidi fooled gullible Tamils in Sri Lanka. It was on their request/ approval Indian government sent Indian peace keeping forces to stop Tamils coming to Tamil Nadu.

    Also remember that Indira created, trained and armed LTTE. Indira told Britain at the time not to supply weapons and training to Sri Lanka.

    India is threating Sri Lanka behind closed doors as well.

    Kachchaithivu issue is not really over. Some Indians believe that there are oil and gas in surrounding sea and will make false claim to the island again.

  • 1
    0

    Thank you for Tony for a great summary…………we do not know how to get out folks to register some facts and process matters accordingly.

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