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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 1888

Lalin’s Column: Indian Gifts

By Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando

When a bearded Indian President was searched on suspicion at an US airport and later an Indian woman diplomat was stripped searched by US police, many in SL sympathized with them. That may not be the case hereafter with Indian High Commissioner in SL, VK Sinha’s most undiplomatic forays into SL’s politics.

Mr. Sinha, after observing the growing opposition to the ETCA with India has gratuitously passed on his wisdom to the former Minister of Justice and the former President telling them what to do with themselves. He has asked Dr. GL Peiris to go back to law lecturing or something as cheeky as that.

‘Manners maketh a man’ (Motto of Winchester School)

Mr.Sinha while recovering from the fallout said in Kandy a few weeks later that the ETCA was a proposal of the SL Prime Minister. Very ingenious and clever, but far too late. He added that India is (still) “working very closely with SL to ensure any agreement signed would benefit both countries”. Who was he defending, himself or the PM? May be he could add why the PM, and not he, (Mr. Sinha) could not have said as much, weeks before when the agreement was under considerable and sustained fire especially by the highest professional classes?

Mr. Sinha should not believe that citizens of SL believe everything any Indian envoy says even as he is plays to an external (western white) gallery and Colombo 7. After all SL saw the ‘benefit to both countries’ of the support in training, operational planning, intelligence, weapons, cash, propaganda and refuge that India gave the LTTE for 26 years. SL has not forgotten the IPKF invasion of SL. The misadventure started with an invasion and ended with a miserable whimpering bug out. It was given a roasting by the Tigers. India’s own Tamil Nadu state declared the IPKF out of bounds to the state. The IPKF achieved only death and destruction of SL citizens and their property.

The invasion blocked the SL forces that were on the brink of completing the destruction of the LTTE after the Vadamarachchi battle. It resulted in prolonging the then 4 year conflict for another 22 years. It cost over 90% of the resulting 100,000 deaths of SL citizens. That cursed infamy will never be forgotten, even if a memorial to the IPKF soldiers who died fighting the LTTE was erected by the former President Mr. Sinha chose to insult. Other leaders known to Sinha did not have the guts to do so.

The Tamils especially in the North called the IPKF the ‘Indian People Killing Force’ not to mention the raping and looting that accompanied that epic brigandage likened to the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia (UK Guardian 1987). In 1987-91 North and East SL were given an unforgettable and heady dose of what the Kashmiri’s have undergone daily at the hands of Indian military and police for nearly 70 years.

The IPKF must be the only army that actually entered and attacked a civil Hospital with ground (infantry) troops killing and raping doctors and nurses with little restraint. That it was a hospital of a friendly and neighbouring country and not an enemy made its action even more indefensible. It was repugnant beyond description.

India in the 1980s also objected to the Voice of America setting up a relay station in SL and the alleged contracting out of the oil tanks in Trincomalie to US companies. That definitely benefitted one of the partners but not little SL.

Ironically India is now on ‘bhai bhai’ terms with the USA. It was on the same terms with China until 1962. Then it got too big for its chappals. It had some of its finest WW2 Army Divisions (under the British commanders in WW2) cut to pieces. The Chinese taught the Indian troops a very painful lesson in the Aksai Chin Mountains and left. Hopefully India learned.

Can Mr. Sinha think of any country other than India that can be considered a potential enemy of SL.? That answer if truthful, will definitely ‘benefit’ SL. Also is there any country in the region that feels it is not intimidated or threatened by India?

As for selected and defeated SL leaders going back to whatever they did in the past, Mr. Sinha should be careful on his return to India not to try to tell his leaders of any vacancies in the tea business there either. The Sikhs and Muslims of India may also not forget other activities of various leaders, too terrible to mention.

Also Mr. Sinha please don’t ruin SL’s environment by dumping your (unsellable, low grade and excess) coal here. Also don’t promote/force the Sampur coal fired power plant on SL. It will cause irrevocable damage to the environment of a third of SL.

SL should remember that when Indians offer gifts they expect gifts in return. What did Mr. Sinha expect when he forgot his manners? He may have forgotten amidst a most welcoming and friendly people that when up against it, they also vapourised the monster his country helped to create.

SL, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal, your neighbours all, were thrilled that the Caribbean lads trounced India in the T20 semi final in Bombay.

The expression ‘Ugly Indian’ should not be fostered by ill conceived and ill advised remarks.

Mr. Sinha, SL should not need to remind you that you are an honoured guest here.

- Asian Tribune -

Lalin’s Column: Indian Gifts
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