1 October, 2020

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India’s Frustration With Sri Lanka Over Tamils

By Bharat Bhushan – BBC News India –

Bharat Bhushan

Indian disappointment with Sri Lanka’s refusal to undertake genuine reconciliation with its Tamil population ought to have been apparent to Colombo for some time now.

It must have been brought home forcefully with the visit of an all-party delegation of Indian parliamentarians to Sri Lanka last week.

Although India supported the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam it was wrong to presume that it would turn a blind eye to Colombo’s indifference towards resolving the Tamil question since the war ended three years ago.

Its error should have been apparent to Colombo when Delhi voted for the resolution in the UN Human Rights Council castigating Sri Lanka for the abuses committed by its armed forces against the Tamil militants during the three decades of war.

The parliamentarian delegation, the first high level one from India after the UN vote, was led by opposition leader Sushma Swaraj.

While MPs from the Tamil parties DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and the AIADMK (All India Anna DMK) had withdrawn from it, the other members – including some Tamil speaking MPs – were also of two minds because of aggressive statements on the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu state by a Sri Lankan minister virtually on the eve of the visit.

Despite the situation not being politically propitious, the delegation still went ahead.

Sushma Swaraj made only one public statement at the end of the visit.

She urged Colombo to “reach a genuine reconciliation” based on “a meaningful devolution of powers which takes into account the legitimate needs of the Tamil people for equality, dignity, justice and self-respect”.

The opposition leader spoke in the same voice as the government of India – suggesting that there was weariness across the political class in India with Colombo’s reluctance to devolve power to Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority.

Emotional echo

The shift in India’s position towards Sri Lanka as manifested in the UN Human Rights Council vote has been ascribed to several factors.

One theory is that there was a backroom deal between the national government and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa that she would allow the Koodankulam nuclear power plant in her state to become operational if the government voted for the resolution.

Other theories are that the government was forced to keep the DMK in good humour due to coalition compulsions and that India gave in to US pressure to support the Washington-sponsored resolution on human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

It would be an error to conclude, however, that such tactical factors alone were responsible for the change in India’s position

What happens to Sri Lankan Tamils has an emotional and often a political echo in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Even during the conflict with the LTTE, while India supported military action against the militant forces, it always cautioned Colombo about protecting the rights of the Tamil civilian population and ensuring their welfare.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured India several times about his commitment to a constitutional amendment to devolve powers to the Tamils.

It was passed in 1987 as a result of the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord but its legality has been questioned in the Supreme Court.

So although President Rajapaksa talks of a devolution process that would be more than that promised earlier – he calls it “13th amendment PLUS”, there is uncertainty about what this would mean.

Many ministers in the Rajapaksa government are openly opposed to devolution and the president himself seems to be backtracking on it. A parliamentary select committee which will make suggestions on the Tamil issue is yet to be set up.

Indian unity

Colombo, however, has failed to read India’s disappointment with bilateral efforts. If it had started negotiations for devolution with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the UNHRC resolution imbroglio may not have taken place.

The all-party parliamentarians’ delegation emphasised these issues – urging that a dialogue be restarted in which the TNA is given an honourable role and that the parliamentary select committee on devolution be set up soon. Most importantly, it left Colombo in no doubt that the Indian political parties were united on this issue.

Having created an anti-West frenzy it may not be easy for the Rajapaksa government to back away from it.

It derives its social power from a peculiar psyche – of Sri Lanka (that is, the majority Sinhalas) being isolated by evil powers.

However, the Rajapaksa government could still move in the direction that Delhi is pushing it.

While maintaining its anti-West, anti-imperialist facade, it could compromise on implementing the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. That would be the pragmatic way forward. Delhi after all is not seeking regime change in Colombo.

The visit by Indian parliamentarians shows that the Indian policy of engagement with Colombo will continue unabated. However, so will the pressure for a permanent reconciliation with the Sri Lankan Tamils.

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Latest comments

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    The Rajapaksa regime’s ongoing attempts to deceive India and the world is now past its sell-by date. Increasingly, both India and the world can see that what we are dealing with is a supremacist government bent on wiping Sri Lanka’s Tamil culture off the map by first a physical ethnic cleansing and second a cultural one. Time is running out before this ugly business blows up in the Rajapaksas’ face…

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    Although India supported the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam … KEYWORD.. AGAINST… ha ha ha ha ha trying to RE write HISTORY… That beacon of democracy India, That LAnd of freedom, That Land of the UnCorruptible.. All HAIL India which has re defined the word ‘hypocrisy’….. Still even Asia Needs its own Coolie Clown.. Only problem is the filth with this circus stinks.

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      Exactly.. What exactly has India done to force the Sri Lankan government to protect the rights of the Tamil civilian population? I think this guy is talking about the trips the Indian Foreign Ministers again and again made to Colombo, just to have breakfast with the president. He believes that those trips made the Indian government cared about Tamil civilian population. What a plonker! For the majority of past 30 years, most of the northern population lived in underground bunkers (unlike their cousins who live in luxury funding the war, and occassionally making comments here) but this guy claim India cared about their welfare. Hilarious! As far as Sri Lankan situation is concerned, Delhi has only one problem and one problem only. That is, holding onto power which essentially means keeping Tamil Nadu lot within the government.

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        @Rupert Vanderkoon.. Hmm wonder Which Country Trained, Armed, Funded, Sheltered the Proxy of the Eelamist movement which strives for the Ethnical pure Dravidian Race.. (which means the cleansing of the Non pure (non Dravidians That is)..Which counrty Invaded Sri-Lanka to save the Eelamist proxy the LTTE and stood in Line to take the Photographs with the LTTE leaders.. Wonder which nations prime minister personally gave his bullet proof vest to the Leader of the LTTE leader over dinner at Panchavati. Wonder which nations press Rallied to portay the leaders of the Eelam movement, while they were carrying out the process of ethnic cleansing using Indian Weapons donations, and training child soldiers with those donations… Yes one wonders what happend to the 70’s and 80’s of Indian Eelamist history??????????????????????????????????????? written out of memory???? (some)

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    As is always sjv comes up with a filth that stinks!!!

    As is always India too has got it all wrong when it says India does not seek regime change in Colombo!

    I am 1000% sure Rajapaksha regime would not do anything at all to solve ethnic problem or towards power sharing or a political settlement! This regime is a bunch of morons who do not know what it means to govern a country, their only concern is how to plunder everything for their own consumption! If India really want to solve this problem they must go for regime change in Colombo!

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    My dear Sinhalese Friends.

    Time to learn what does it mean to be a small island without any resources and power in a global context.

    Learn to accept the fundemental rights of other minorities

    The one and only indigenous people in Sri Lanka is not sinhalese, they are Veddas, do not forget that.

    Mahawamse and the lion story is written by manipulators

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      @Vasu.. Hmm wonder what rights will people have in this evil called Eelam.. Its very Idea and ideology is based on a pure ethnic for the dravidian Eelamist race.. We all saw the evidence of this evil during the 30 years where the eelamist proxy the LTTE controled and cleansed the Muslims, Sinhala, Bugher and other NON dravisian eelamist.. and also Tamils that did not conform to this Racist ideology of eelam.. Where even the Eelam mouth pieces were froced to always praise its leaders or face the wrath of eelam.. Just see the years of Eelam press history for that.. so much for the socalled Freedom you call for.

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    Bharat Bushan! You are wrong. India is not frustrated with SriLanka over Tamils but frustrated with the treatment of India by GoSL. India doesn’t give a toss about Tamils and never did. It was not a war against Tamil Tigers but a genocidal war to wipe out Tamils in the name of eliminating Terrorism.

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    One day MR would realize that he can fool the srilankans.. and not the entire world..

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    The problemm of Tamils is the issue of Sri lanka democratic and national question,no need Indian to be disappoint over the other country intrenal affairs.Of cause as sri lankan has to selltle National question still oustanding for long-time.Address of Tamil issue is essantial,but not the Indian way!India may be big country,we had been negative expriences of deal with Tamil issue with Indian 1987.According to the Indo-Sri-Lanka accord was force by Indian IPKF and hegemonitic attudue of Certral Govt of Indain expansionst policy.
    The regional autonomy or great extent of Provincial councial power be decided after GUN POINT CULTURE BEEN ERIDICATED IN NORTH-EAST PART OF ISLAND. Tamil people must be Free from gunpoint politics of what ever the terrorist type of orginizations as well as anti-pepole out-fits.
    Indian and other foreing power had been encourge and promoted Tamil terrorist since sheltring and supplying arms & armed traning in Indian soil since 1977.Look back history of Tamil terroist politics ,Indian need to not worry or hurry of seek solution of Tamil national issue.We need more time and space .

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    Everyone knows that neither Sinhalese nor Tamils ever asked for 13A. It is India that rammed 13A down old JRJ throat in 1977 saying it’s the solution to all undefined grievances of Tamils.

    But neither LTTE nor leading Tamil party, TULF meaning TNA, the LTTE proxy accepted 13A plus or minus. Thats why it wasn’t implemented in the North or East. But as everyone knows, the JVP and LTTE set the whole country on fire for years.

    LTTE even killed 1250 javans of IPKF and later it blasted the Indian PM, Rajiv to take revenge from him for trying to force it upon them. So, 13A plus or minus was never implemented in the North all these years. Alleged atrocities of IPKF was so cruel, Premadasa asked IPKF to leave Sri Lanka soil in 1990. From then on killings continued at various theatres, levels, chapters and phases till May 18th 2009.

    Nothing but the eradication of LTTE brought peace to entire Sri Lanka since Tamils declared war on Sri Lanka at Waddukkodai. So, just abolish 13A to cement it.
    Leela

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