By K Godage
A new treaty with our blood relative India is an imperative, let us clear the way for it. Modi becoming Prime Minister affords us a God given opportunity, let us not let it pass. It has been reported that India’s new Prime Minister has raised the old issue of the 13th Amendment which they foisted on us and insisted that Land and Police powers not be taken away from the Provincial Councils, when President Rajapaksa called on him after he was sworn in.
This is the old demand which they keep bringing up whenever our Presidents meet their Prime Ministers. To my mind it appears that our leaders have failed to make India understand why we cannot devolve land and Police powers to the Provincial Councils in this small country of ours which is smaller than almost all their states.
Their High Commission in Colombo should have advised Delhi that, considering the level of crime in this country, a uniform Police Service is an absolute imperative for the stability of this country. Even in Malaysia which comprises of far flung island States, the Police is administered from the Centre.
As regards land, we must avoid taking over private land other than for uncontested security reasons; there are some who say that the country belongs to us all and we must be free to settle in any part of the Country, even though it may be theoretically correct we must remember that we are dealing with human beings, we should therefore be sensitive to the emotional aspect of this issue. We cannot also forget the fact, there was a Tamil kingdom in the North till the Portuguese put an end to it and also that the North (not the East) has been the traditional home of the Tamil people. Let us as a matter of policy state that no private land will be acquired unless it is for, as stated earlier, security reasons. Where land has already been acquired, if they cannot now be given back for whatever reason the owners should be handsomely compensated.
The other issue which has been brought up is ‘Accountability’, I believe the government is addressing the issue let us seek India’s support for the manner in which we are doing it.
The corrupt Jayalalithaa, who has prostituted herself to the Tamil Diaspora which supports her handsomely, will now seek to make things difficult for the Centre and India’s relations with us. It remains to be seen as to how Modi would relate to us in the future for Jayalalithaa would seek to undermine our security and perhaps even our territorial integrity. India would have to ensure that this does not happen.
Sincere friends in Delhi
I, having served in Delhi at perhaps the worst of times in our relations when the IPKF (which had lost over 1200 men fighting the LTTE) were ordered to leave, in what the Indians considered an ungrateful and crude manner, could without fear of contradiction state that we (despite the attitude of certain agencies of government) nevertheless had good sincere friends in Delhi; it may surprise many to know that among those who helped us was Rajiv Gandhi who was out of office, with VP Singh becoming PM and also the then Minister of External Affairs IK Gujral (who later became Prime Minister). High Commissioner Stanley Kalpage (who was well liked by the establishment) and I met Rajiv Gandhi for ten times at his request.
We met him thrice when we encountered certain problems and he was most helpful, for instance when the LTTE killed 108 Muslims at prayer in the Kathankudi Mosque, certain parties in Delhi who were hostile to us spread the word that our Army had committed the horrendous crime; the Islamic newspapers mounted a huge attack on us and a huge demonstration was to take place outside our Mission. Security was strengthened and we were also warned not to travel alone, at which point High Commissioner Kalpage and I decided to see Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and seek his help.
When we met him he said “This is definitely the work of the LTTE why should your Army kill innocent Muslims”. When we told him of the planned demonstration he wanted us to see the Imam of the Barbri Masjid in Delhi (I am told that it is one of the biggest Mosques in the world) and that he would speak to him. Calling on the Imam was a very formal affair, we met him and when we told him of our problem, he said that Rajiv had spoken to him and that there would be no demonstration!! We also told him that the Islamic press was attacking us, he promised to look into the matter and the nasty editorials and articles attacking us stopped after a few days. We also had many other VIPs who helped us in many ways.
I could say that whatever may be the Parliamentary majority the political leaders would not decide policy by themselves, the Bureaucrats including the PM’s office, the National Security Advisor and the MEA (and the Think Tanks) make a major contribution to policy making, RAW (which is most important for our security) is also consulted; so we must ensure these important ‘Institutions’ of the Indian government are not hostile towards us.
Protect our relationship
I am aware that the BJP which was in government when we served in Delhi, valued the relationship with us, we for our part should treat the relationship as the cornerstone of our foreign policy and we must have a constructive approach, based on Trust. We must create a climate, where no Jayalalithaa can spoil our relationship with India. Our relations with India extends to over 2000 years, let us together with India protect it in our mutual interest. Let us request the Indian government to permit us to have consulates in all the states of South India for we have had relations with them from time immemorial.
Let us also conclude a new Treaty with India which incorporates their concerns re their security which is of great importance to them. As quid pro quo let us hope that they would get Jayalalithaa off our back.
Let us also have Treaties of Peace Friendship and Cooperation with China and Pakistan.
To conclude I am confident that a new chapter has opened in our relations with India, it appears to me the Modi government will adopt the Gujral Doctrine in relations with its neighbours and strengthen political and economic relations with countries of the SAARC, this would undoubtedly be a blessing for us all.