by S.P. Samy
The Indo-Lanka Accord signed by Sri Lankan President J.R. Jayewardene and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on July 29, 1987 completed 20 years recently.
Under the provisions of this accord we have a name-sake centre to periphery power devolution mechanism in the provincial councils to date, but these councils remain not independent, but mechanisms to implement orders from the centre and whatever powers envisaged to be devolved to the periphery continue to be retained by the centre. In terms of men, materials, and finance the provincial councils have become an additional burden on the economy of the country.
With moves to alter the demographic pattern of the Northern and Eastern Provinces which have been recognised as the traditional home land of the Tamils under the Accord, continuing unabated; through the eviction of Tamils from their residences under the guise of establishing high security zones in those provinces; covert settlement of Sinhala people, and then the recent Supreme Court ruling which ordered the de-merger of the provinces, the Tamil homeland concept has come to be threatened.
These were among other things, the irritants from the accord as per forces hostile to it. From day one, attempts have been made to find excuses to dilute the accord qualitatively instead of accepting it as a solid foundation on which to find a solution to the ethnic conflict and restore peace and harmony to the country.
At one stage, even the people of both these provinces who welcomed the IPKF whole heartedly as their saviours at the beginning, became hostile to it, branding it as an army of occupation. The hostility was so high that when the Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by a female LTTE suicide bomber, the Jaffna and Batticaloa families in Colombo received the information by lighting Chinese crackers.
Even in the geo-political front, India’s belief that it had through the accord, effectively kept the Sri Lankan government from by-passing it towards forces hostile to India, has been proved too good to be true.
The successive post-accord Sri Lankan governments have time and again acted with scant respect to this aspect while giving convenient excuses for doing so. The latest incident being the meeting between the Sri Lankan defence secretary and the Indian authorities, where it was reported that the Sri Lankan defence secretary warned his Indian counterpart that if no military assistance was available from India, Sri Lanka would have to go to either Pakistan or China.
Ailing and feeble from the inception, at its 20th year the accord is sinking, leaving nothing for anybody to be proud of.