On SL soil

20080909_102By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan

India has ‘fortified’ its military presence at its High Commission in Colombo by appointing an Army official, Col. Gurinder S. Klaire, to its intelligence wing, ‘on seeing’ the strong ties Sri Lanka has built up with China. The appointment also comes as a response to the Chinese Embassy appointing, for the first time, a Defence Attaché to its Colombo office recently. 

Col. Klaire will reportedly serve as the Deputy Defence Adviser and will assist Defence Adviser Captain Prakash Gopalan.
It is said the Indian High Commission traditionally appoints servicemen from the Navy, However, this is the first time an Army official has been appointed to the defence advisery desk. 

When Ceylon Today contacted Captain Prakash Gopalan, to verify the new appointment, he said ‘yes’ and when asked for the reason behind the expansion of the Colombo High Commission defence desk, he said “I need to read the news contents before I can comment on it.”
However, according to an official of the Indian HC, expanding its desk is an internal matter, and if they need to expand their desk, they might do so. 

In the recent past, the Lanka-China tie up has become stronger and that has irked India.
In May this year a Chinese military contingent led by General Xu Qiliang, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC), and the commander of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force from 2007 to 2012, visited Sri Lanka. 

In the same month, another six-member Chinese delegation led by Chief of Staff of the Chinese People’s Armed Police, Lt. Gen. Niu Zhizong made their presence felt in Sri Lanka.
With his admirable friendship with the Sri Lankans, Gen Zhizong went to the extent of expressing his willingness to train a maximum number of Sri Lankan Army personnel in China to get expertise on fighting terrorism. He said so when he met Commander Lt. Gen. Daya Ratnayake during his visit. 

The biggest ever Chinese involvement in Sri Lanka would be the Chinese Government receiving the green light to build an aircraft repair and maintenance facility in Trincomalee for its air force and that ‘disturbs’ the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord, regarding the military use of Trincomalee.
 

Even though the Minister of External Affairs, Prof G. L. Peiris, told Parliament the location of the facility had not been decided, the aircraft repair facility for China will come to pass, reliable sources confirmed