22 October, 2019

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The 25th Anniversary Of The Indo-Lanka Accord:It Is Time To Abrogate The 13th Amendment

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

What are the landmark political moments of post-Independence Sri Lanka?  We could mention Independence Day, the 22nd of May 1972 when we became a republic, the shift to the ‘open economy’ in 1977, the scripting of the 1978 Constitution, July 1983, the 1988-89 bheeshanay, the passing of the ill-fated 17th Amendment in 2001 and the military defeat of the LTTE in May 2009.  And yes, the 29th day of July, 1987.  The last is the least mentioned by those who are asked to respond to the question posed.  And yet, just like the 1977 Constitution, the 13th Amendment and the Indo-Lanka Accord that birthed it have had lasting and devastating impacts on Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans.

It is 25 years after the fact.  Col. R. Hariharan, a retired Indian military intelligence who served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence and who is a regular commentator on military and political affairs in South Asia has offered a recap of sorts.  He has compared two Indian interventions, in East Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

India-lovers have bent over backwards to tell Sri Lankans that India is a friend and was here to help us.  They have and they will.  Hariharan puts it bluntly.  He admits that it was not a love-affair, but one informed by strategic goals.  Nothing wrong in that.  Countries must do what’s best for countries.  That ‘doing’ should be read just like that and not sugar-coated with silly terms like ‘friendship’ and ‘concern’.  In short, India was not doing Sri Lanka any favours.  We have it now from the mouth of the top intelligence officer.

Hariharan laments that the Accord failed in Sri Lanka: ‘The devolution of powers to the Tamil minority promised in the Accord remains unfulfilled despite the 13th Amendment. But the Accord retains the potential as an instrument of Indian influence in the region.’

The second part of this lament should be flagged.  So let us flag: ‘Potential as an instrument of Indian influence in the region’.  So, for all the shop-talk about ‘redressing Tamil grievances’ the Accord (and also the 13th Amendment) was about ‘Indian influence in the region’, Messers R. Sampanthan and M. Sumanthiran please note.

Hariharan has to defend frill of course and we are sympathetic to this need.  He says, ‘The most significant achievement of the Accord was the introduction of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution which provided a degree of autonomy to the newly created provinces and it still exists as the only constitutional tool available to redress Tamil grievances’.

He does not outline ‘Tamil Grievances’ (note, not ‘aspirations’) and therefore does not have to link the territory-based ‘solution’ to a problem that can be articulated in territorial terms.  He doesn’t have to deal with the fact that there is no history that Tamil nationalists can come up with to give beef to the whine about ‘traditional homelands’.  He doesn’t have to deal with the demographic reality of the majority of Tamils living outside the Northern and Eastern provinces.  He doesn’t have to talk about ethnic cleansing by the LTTE and can be silent about identity-related population densities in the Eastern Province.

Hariharan confesses that Indian had no clue about ground realities.  He passes the buck to ‘civil intelligence’ of course, but the bottom line is ignorance.  It is clear that realization is yet to dawn.  There’s nothing wrong in Indians being patriotic, after all Arundathi Roy (activist) and Harsha Bhogle (cricket columnist) have become very defensive when India seems at risk of break-up or India is critiqued, respectively.  Hariharan, moreover, is a military man and not an academic.

What has the Accord done, though, quite apart from trying to satisfy Indian strategic interests?  Here, in Sri Lanka, that day in late July twenty five years ago was marked by the burning of buses.  It gave an impetus to the JVP which quickly donned a nationalist garb and fed on general public dismay.  Close to 60,000 people died in two bloody years.  The 13th Amendment helped legitimize Eelam mythmaking, turning randomly drawn provincial boundaries into borders of a fictional homeland.  That boundary line has kept feeding narrow Tamil communalist politicians and politics.

The debate should not be about 13 Plus or 13 Minus, but when (and not if) the 13th will be abrogated.  India is welcome to its strategic interests.  Sri Lanka must be about Sri Lankans and their collective present and future.  Fiction doesn’t help.  Applauding and legitimating fiction leads to tragedy.  The 13th Amendment caused blood to flow.  Our children need not bleed too to keep alive that discredited document and certainly not to satisfy India’s strategic interests.

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Latest comments

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    [Edited out]

    Keep it Malinda. There are many people who need to be educated that India has fist got to have to teach her people and Gnanakoone to use toilets and then clean them.

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      Rowdy, (as you sometimes post comments) why, you are there to clean the toilets? Most of the time you clean the toilets of the first family?

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      Peter Casie Chetty:

      “India has fist got to have to teach her people and Gnanakoone to use toilets and then clean them.”

      As a descendant of South India you would be the ideal teacher. So why don’t you go back to Tamilnadu and begin your health education there and move to the North.

      Please don’t come back.

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    India’s excuse for forcing 13thAmendment down the Sri Lankan throat is strategic interests. Because, of the same reason, and as a protest to what they do, Sri Lanka always should work against the Indian interests and to escape from that.

    See how costly and how nasty the 13th amendment is. Yearly cost for maintaining EIGHT provincial councils is about Rs 1000 million. That is except the perks like car permits given every three – four years neglected. Then corruption such as bribes to approve every thing, contracts given to unqualified people. Most of the provincial politicians are caught engaging in crimes such as rapes, murders, thuggery etc. Most of the time, development activities are not carried out saying it is some one else’s responsibility.

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      Thalaivar says:

      “Sri Lanka always should work against the Indian interests and to escape from that.”

      Great idea.

      However your cunning idea might lead to another 30 years of destruction and back to square one. You are no lesser person than VP.

      You are no less a leader than VP.

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        The wise man learns from others’ mistakes,
        The Average man learns from his mistakes
        Fools never learn.!!!!!

        :-)

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          G1 is confident:

          “Fools never learn.!!!!!”

          Hence Sri Lankans have no chance.

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    oi [Edited out] seneviratne, what are you going on about. as a black sinhala geezer you seem to have no brain. what history you want from tamil people [Edited out]. presence of tamil people in the northeast is itself is enough to stake claim for the land. you sinhala primitive tribe don’t live there, therefore you have no claim for the land. we tamils consider sinhala black army as occupation forces. these primitive monkeys stink after eating sinhala smelly dry fish. whenever any one visits northeast , two black monkeys always show up.oi primitive sinhala [Edited out] seneviratne, so you think you have history in sri lanka. what history you are talking about. having a few disused water tanks and dilapidated dagobas don’t make history you [Edited out].
    your history is shown the world over in ” killing fields” including your passion for corpses to have sex. your black primitive soldiers were seen ogling at the dead girls private parts. what a load of barbaric and uncivilised animals.

    by the way northeast tamils don’t have to go to tamil nadu looking for a homeland . we have already got in northeast. primitive sinhala tribe are copycats. everone repeats the same old story practically everyday.
    no originality, no original thinking, no intelligence , no nothing. just dumbasses.

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    G1: FOOL NEVER LEARN HAHAHAHA–Native vedda well said lol ;))

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    Rama wowwwwwwww hats off to you exactly FOR WHAT U SAID:”what a load of barbaric and uncivilised animals.”
    –Also Malind pretend to make new histories of Srilanka. Firstly he has to learn about Tamils and history of Srilanka. I CROWN HIM WITH A TITLE: BARBARIC RACIST AND A GOOD PRETENDER WHO BRAIN WASH INNOCENT SINHALESE PEOPLE.
    Harvard Ph.D drop out in sociology–but dont know what sociology means. Sociologist pin point the social injustice–but sadly this person work hard to make FAME! how long? let me see

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    GOON MALINDA DONT YOU KNOW TAMIL IS THE OLDEST AND GOLD EST LANGUAGE EVER–DONT YOU HAVE BRAIN? OR DONT YOU STUDIED ENOUGH?

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