18 September, 2021

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Time To Shake Up Sri Lanka’s “Business As Usual” With India

By R Hariharan

 Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

Time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a relook at Sri Lanka affairs under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He has continued for too long to bash on regardless of his unkept promises to India on implementing the 13th Constitutional Amendment in full. It was to be part of the resumption of the stalled political dialogue process with Tamil leaders which he promised to undertake.

Modi’s elevation as Prime Minister initially caused some concern to Rajapaksa as the BJP electoral partners in Tamil Nadu were well known for their strong anti-Rajapa and decidedly pro-Tamil separatist stand. But seeing the dynamic new Indian prime minister’s keenness to build better relations with India’s neighbours, Rajapaksa seems to have decided that it would be business as usual for Sri Lanka while dealing with India.

Just one example will suffice to explain Rajapaksa’s intransigent attitude to the dialogue process with Tamil leaders. Recently, the President had a wonderful opportunity to build bridges with Tamil polity when the 5-year tenure of Northern Province Governor Chandrasiri ended. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) which is in power in the Province had for long been demanding replacing Chandrasiri a former General, with an experienced and well respected civilian, for which there is no dearth in Sri Lanka. The TNA felt such a move would provide a better equation in dealing with Colombo as the population was recovering from post war trauma.  The President could have acceded to their request now without any loss of face for anyone (except probably the President’s brother Gotabaya who has a different view on the subject) by appointing a civilian as the governor for Northern Province. Such a gesture would have helped to create good will not only among Tamils but also among large sections of Sri Lanka civil society who feel President Rajapaksa has not done enough to bringing the Tamils back into national mainstream and put an end to ethnic confrontation.

But the President chose to reappoint the outgoing Governor Chandrasiri for yet another term in the same job. It was a gesture in articulating the President’s power; the announcement came like a slap in the face of the Justice Wigneswaran, the TNA chief minister of the Province, because he had been demanding Chandrasiri’s replacement from day one in office. With it Rajapaksa has sent a clear signal to Tamils that there would be no rapprochement with them except on his terms.

This comes as no surprise if we see the evolution of Sri Lanka’s policy in the last five post war years. Its core contents appear to be

1.      Marginalise India’s role on behalf of the Tamil constituency; of course, on all other aspects Colombo welcomes India’s initiatives in trade, defence, and other matters, naturally on terms favourable to Sri Lanka.

2.     International NGOs should lay off Sri Lanka on issues like war crimes, human rights, governance, minority rights and rule of law. To be ‘fair’ to small countries they should go after big powers which seem to get away with much bigger crimes. Already Ministry of Defence which seems to have hand in the policy making pie, has already proposed restrictions on NGOs access to public media. Of course, the NGOs are welcome to associate with government-sponsored programmes to improve the well being of the people.

3.     International bodies like the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC) are manipulated by Western powers and the US. So Sri Lanka should not facilitate any role for them in its internal affairs (forget the UN conventions say because everyone flouts them). While Sri Lanka cannot stop their “meddling,” it can network with like-minded countries (eg., Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea etc) and make a lot of noise about the intrusive nature of UN commissions’ work because it echoes the view of many nations.

4.     The Tamil issue has been solved with the elimination of Prabhakaran and the Tamil Tigers. But Sri Lanka would attend to Tamil grievances, if any, on its own terms without any external intervention. And the 13th constitutional amendment was created to satisfy India and at best it is a benevolent gesture to Tamils. Tamils should be happy with its present form of incomplete implementation.

5.     The army has an important role to play in keeping the Northern and Eastern provinces “sanitized” to prevent any ‘resurrection’ of Tamil terrorism abetted by Tamil Diaspora and their pals in TNA and the remnants of  LTTE abroad (and in Tamil Nadu).  So regardless of what the government says, the army will continue to keep a watch on the activity of Tamils everywhere including the North and East. As it is in the interest of national security, army’s intrusive role, if any, has to be tolerated by civilians and condoned by the government. As a corollary the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) would continue to be in force.

As far as India’s role on Tamils in Sri Lanka is concerned, in a nutshell, Rajapaksa is telling India “forget about full implementation of 13th Amendment, or its Plus version I spoke about. It is for TNA to negotiate what it wants because basically it is our internal issue.”

Did Modi’s cordial meeting with Rajapaksa and the absence of any representative from his Tamil Nadu political partners in the cabinet influence Rajapaksa’s attitude?  It is time to shake up Colombo’s “business as usual” mindset at least a wee bit.

From this point of view I welcome the initiative taken by Civil Society Coalition for Justice and Peace delegation from Tamil Nadu which met with the Minister of External Affairs Mrs Sushma Swaraj to articulate the concerns of Tamils. The delegation led by the UPA coalition partner PMK’s leader Anbumani included civil society activist and former IAS officer MG Devasahyam, former Dharmapuri MP R Senthil and advocate R Balu. This is a welcome move because civil society has to be involved in articulating Tamil Nadu’s concerns on Sri Lanka Tamil issue, which has been used for too long by political parties only to score political brownie points.

I do not agree with the delegation’s view that China, Pakistan, and Burma were ganging up with Sri Lanka against India because it is too simplistic. India’s Sri Lanka policy cannot be changed overnight because it is not exclusively Tamil-centric but includes other issues of national interest like trade, maritime and security concerns as well.

But I fully agree with them on two other points they made:

  • India should prevail upon Rajapaksa for a course correction in keeping with his promises to India on resuming the political process with the Tamil representatives.
  • Rajapaksa should be made to address concerns of India and international community on Sri Lanka’s accountability for alleged human rights violations and war crimes articulated in the UNHRC resolutions.

As a first step in this process, India can tell Sri Lanka that it would reconsider its stand on the UN resolution adopted last March when it comes for review in the next UNHRC meeting.

In March 2014 India had abstained from voting for the resolution because it considered operative paragraph 10 calling for sending an international investigation team to Sri Lanka as intrusive. But Sri Lanka should be an exception to this because Rajapaksa has not fulfilled his promises to India. And Rajapaksa will not realise it unless India takes a hard stand on this count.

Lastly, I agree with the delegation on the need for a special officer at the MEA to handle Sri Lanka.  I wrote on this issue in an article the Indian Foreign Affairs Journal April-June 2012 issue; “India-Sri Lanka relations need a more integrated political-diplomatic-strategic-trade strategy evolved by national leadership. The resources at the Ministry of External Affairs are totally inadequate to execute such a strategy, even if it is devised. Perhaps creating a special task force with its element in Chennai would be the answer. Then only India can show Sri Lanka that it is serious about strengthening its relationship as equal partner.” I stand by it.

(This article contains excerpts from a media interview given by the author on August 16, 2014.)

*Col Hariharan is a retired MI officer who served as the head of intelligence of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka from 1987 to 90. E-mail: colhari@yahoo.com Blogs: http://col.hariharan.info & http://hariharansintblog.blogspot.in 

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Latest comments

  • 4
    4

    You have no clue about the Sri Lankan deep state and how it operates.

    • 7
      4

      As far as the Hindians or their kith and kin are concerned they wanted the Tamil resurgence that started in the North East of Sri Lanka crushed: Sri Lanka fought India’s war against Tamils, and of course India aided, abetted, supplied arms, financed and closely managed the illegitimate war.

      Job done and both are happy that they defeated Tamil nationalism: What else does Col. (retd) R.Hariharan as an ex-intelligence officer want?

      Recently Indian MPS’ were protesting in parliament over Israeli attack on Palestine while no such thing happened when more than 147,000 innocent Tamils were massacred in No Fire Zones and elsewhere by Sri Lanka. When an ADMK MP pointed this out he was shouted down! This is democracy, Indian style (sounds similar to Sri Lankan one?).

      Only Tamils care for Tamils: Hopefully the UNHRC brings out the truth of crimes against Tamils committed by Sri Lanka, and perhaps a fitting political solution for Tamils.

      • 4
        1

        .
        …..and Indian politicians are very cheap to buy.

        Athulathmudali bought Bhandari with a diamond necklace (as wedding gift to Bhandari’s daughter).
        Rajapakse’s had Mukherjee, Menon and Nambiar in their pockets.

        :-)

        • 2
          1

          aratai

          “Athulathmudali bought Bhandari with a diamond necklace (as wedding gift to Bhandari’s daughter).”

          It was too expensive a deal. Athulathmudali should have arranged the deal through a Jaffna Tamil wheeler dealer. VP would have done the deal at much cheaper price.

          Premadasa and MR got much better deal than Athulathmudali, what a shame.

      • 1
        2

        147,000 ‘Missing’, ‘Disappeared’ and then presented as being ‘Massacred’, the true intent of the Bishop’s words reverberating around the world. A lie is a lie is a lie. A turd cannot be decorated.

      • 2
        0

        Thiru
        Without India there won’t be a solution for Tamils. UNHRC may hold an investigation ………..
        Col Hariharan
        Did the relevant Indians read the Thirtenth Amendment before Pemier Rajiv Gandhi signed it? Foxy Prz JRJ wouldn’t have given the Indians time to even glance through it before ”official signature”. Thirteenth Amendment wasn’t for giving devolution of power to the Tamils but to keep the Indians quiet:
        ‘’An elected dictatorship with various sections of the Thirteenth Amendment inconsistent with each other’’ – A review of the working of Provincial Councils: Legislative powers, R.M.B.Senanayake(retired Government Agent), 9 April 2014, http://www.ft.lk/2014/04/09/a-review-of-the-working-of-provincial-councils-legislative-powers/

        ”Prime Minister S.W.R.D .Bandaranaike (SWRD) expanded the horizons of the Sinhala people in 1956 but simultaneously drew in the horizons of the Tamils and diminished them as a people………….
        Now in my 84th year, I am asking President Mahinda Rajapaksa the same question that I put to Mrs Bandaranaike 50 years ago – “Excellency! Don’t you think that you should finally heal the wounds inflicted on the Tamil people and effect a total reconciliation? ………………….
        Does the 13th Amendment expand horizons for the Tamil people?
        To expand horizons for the Tamil people must mean, at the least, delegating to them through a constitutional device, power to order their own affairs, consistent with the ultimate sovereignty of the nation.
        Clearly, the 13th Amendment does not do that, because that was not its purpose and it was not driven by an ideological commitment to sharing power. Rather, it was drafted primarily as a mechanism to keep the Tamils in line and to that end it reinforces control rather than share power. ………….
        Does 13th Amendment provide an opportunity for development?
        However, looking at the issue from another perspective, in truth, the 13th Amendment does ( repeat does ) provide considerable space for the NPC to bring a range of benefits to its people and the TNA should look on the currently elected Council, however restricted in power, as an important first step in an incremental process. ……………..” – Will President Rajapaksa Expand Horizons For The Tamil People? Neville Jayaweera, 3 November 2013,
        https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/will-president-rajapaksa-expand-horizons-for-the-tamil-people/

    • 5
      1

      Col. (retd) R.Hariharan

      “Time has come for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take a relook at Sri Lanka affairs under the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. He has continued for too long to bash on regardless of his unkept promises to India on implementing the 13th Constitutional Amendment in full. It was to be part of the resumption of the stalled political dialogue process with Tamil leaders which he promised to undertake.”

      You have no clue as to the lies, more lies and most lies by the State.

      Look at Aluthgama, and the invented lies AFTER the carnage? See how the Sinhala Buddhist Monks, and other Sinhala Buddhist were lying.

      Do Not believe anything the Sinhala Buddhists Tell You. They tell tou one thing an dies another thing

      They Learned to lie, from Para-Monk Mahanma of Mahawansa notoriety.

  • 4
    6

    PM Modi’s mate who is now the Boss of the BJP is an accused in 3 Murders and numerous other crimes according to an Aussie mainstream Newspaper.

    It goes even further to say that one third of of the members of the National Parliament which Modi now controls have criminal charges against them in Indian Courts.

    In contrast none of our alleged Genocide doing President’s MPs have even one real case against them but only wild allegations by the bankrupt Opposition.

    No wonder Modi is following the same path which the previous Gandhi Govt adopted for Srilanka.

    Besides, Mr Modi should have some respect for a fellow Premier who tried hard to bring peace, and harmony but was bumped off by the mates of the current rulers in the North,whom the Colonel is in love with now.

    • 2
      0

      .
      Because, in Srilanka we have White Vans…. no one can file case against government.

      :-)

  • 7
    1

    Rajapakse is not fool as Modi. He knows very well any gesture towards Tamils will be disastrous to his internal politics. Sri Lanka’s politics depends on Buddhist Sinhala fundamentalism. Rajapakse knows very well that he can buy Indian politician’s including Modi.India already fall in the trap of Rajapakse by its involvement in the massacre of Tamils.

    • 1
      5

      Ajith, Tell us, what’s this fellow Col Hari’s involvement in those rape etc cases that you guys were accusing as IPKF javans had done to your old women folk while they were fighting with LTTE here.

      • 2
        1

        i don’t know about this guy’s involvement on the rape of women but I know both IPKF and Sinhala military involved in the rape of women.

        • 0
          2

          You said IPKF was involved in rape. I have heard about it at that time as well. But everyone knows IPKF had confined Sinhala military to barracks. And this guy said, he was the then IPKF intelligence boss. So he knows who raped your women. Let him say Sinhala soldiers came out of barracks to rape Tamil women. We say this man Col. (retd) R.Hariharan and his javans raped your women.

          • 2
            1

            mechanic

            “We say this man Col. (retd) R.Hariharan and his javans raped your women.”

            So did your brave(?) soldiers.

            What are you going to do about it?

            This is one reason as to why an independent investigation into war crimes and crime against humanity covering the period from 5th April 1971 to date is urgently needed.

          • 0
            1

            Even this week Sinhala soldiers raped a 11 year old girl. The involvement of Sinhala soldiers is a continuous one.

            • 0
              0

              Odd rape is everywhere, you idiot. I mean even an oral ones like the one that Bill Clinton did.

              • 1
                1

                mechanic

                “Odd rape is everywhere, you idiot.”

                Therefore as a country we just accept and do nothing to stop these heinous crimes.

                I take it that your wife, daughters, sisters, aunts, grandmothers, .. agree with you and they would be relaxed while being raped.

                I also hope they would reminisce their once in a life time experience.

  • 1
    2

    Tamil people realized this long time back… too bad for the Indian diplomats…. it is ok to kill Tamils and only 2 millions or so left … keep going with the ignorance..

    Tamils don’t deserve life… keep supporting the regime…

    now a days, Tamils just believe in Karma… Indians never believed in it, because it seems that they created these great religions and concepts to keep the innocent in fear of bad deeds. :-(

  • 12
    1

    Wake up India !

    It needs a Bangladesh job for Tamil Eelam.

    Action First, Talk Later, so that Sri Lanka will understand how to behave, respect and honour, and show who is the regional boss. When bags of parupu were dropped in Jaffna, they got the message.

    A kick in the head first, will lead to demilitarisation, they will scramble for safety. They are no army, they are gangsters.

    Come on India, Come on.

    This is about human rights,rape,murder,torture, land grab, colonisation,refugees, religion, culture, and heritage of a community, not thumbing the nose of the UN, International Community or on mother India.

    Manicka Vasagar

  • 1
    1

    `Lastly, I agree with the delegation on the need for a special officer at the MEA to handle Sri Lanka.`

    Paripu you are going senile.

    If Ganesh could have been purchased alu porats, chapathi who are lazy and just buy and sell would be even worse.

    Would you not be hounded to Den Haag for your IPKF role??

  • 3
    0

    Good luck with that Col. Your South Block knows what it’s doing and NOTHING will happen on the SL file.

    It is, what it is.

  • 3
    1

    Colonel,

    Not sure whether you read comments section below the articles. I strongly disagree that you disagree on ” do not agree with the delegation’s view that China, Pakistan, and Burma were ganging up with Sri Lanka against India because it is too simplistic”

    It is not too simpistic to ignore;

  • 4
    1

    Perhaps Rajapaksa’s crude kind of rat cunning is too overwhelming to the apparently naïve Modi who is giving a long rope to Rajapaksa. One has to only wait and see. Bensen

  • 0
    1

    The immediate offence appears to the Colonel is the re-appointment of
    Chandrasiri breaking a promise. In MRs book this is a minor matter for a
    double-speak leader?.

    As an afterthought he wants to keep the D-C (Douglas/Chandrasiri) arms to
    win the Tamil votes by hook or crook. He is an Election-based animal!

  • 1
    0

    (This article contains excerpts from a media interview given by the author on August 16, 2014.)

    WOW!!! This is an article written about an interview that will take place in the future. Someone’s been watching too many back to the future movies.

    • 0
      1

      We have the technology.

  • 0
    1

    i always ask this question. as an ex. indian army officer what is your interest in SL affairs. are you interested in the welfare of tamils of indian national interests? your writings are well accommodated in SL media. i do not know whether i will be able to write about kashmir in indian media.
    mr. hariharan pl. tell me what will happen if srilankan sinhala leadership tells india to go to hell. india is not genuine both to srilankan govt and srilankan tamils. do you know both parties hate india. i wish you and sathiyamoorthy to look after your indian problems.
    sundaram

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