India’s duty towards persons of Indian origin in Sri Lanka

by G. Varghese
[Colombo]

Minister Arumugam Thondaman was in a dilemma recently following a tornado lashing the shores of beautiful Lanka causing the arrest and detention of many members of the minority communities, particularly persons of Indian origin. He chose legal action to obtain redress for the affected people.

As the people concerned were affected by the actions of the executive, he could have sought governmental intervention. Perhaps he sought same and miserably failed. This is not the first time such mass arrests were made when Thondaman was a member of the government.

It is generally known that the present government is concerned only about the rights of the majority-Sinhala Buddhists. Thondaman would do well to remember that, if he is not aware of it already. One cannot believe that Thondaman was not aware of this situation at the time he chose to join the government.

If Thondaman is interested in ameliorating the conditions of the people of Indian origin, he should work closely with India because these people became Sri Lankan citizens as a result of a treaty entered into between India and Sri Lanka — two sovereign nations. India cannot therefore abdicate its responsibility to watch the interests of the people of Indian origin here.

Collectively and individually I have been marking representations to India and to her representative here requesting that India should resume its role of ‘watching the interests’ of the people of Indian origin in Sri Lanka which I should say has been replaced by the I.K.Gujaral doctrine which meant ‘friendship at any cost.’

When I met Indian High Commissioner Nirupama Rao at India House, in the presence of the Deputy High Commissioner prior to her departure, she more-or-less assured me that the High Commission would continue to show interest on the subject, although I cannot remember getting her assurance about resuming the role of ‘watching the interests’ of the people of Indian origin here. However it is sad to note that the present High Commissioner is silent on this issue.

Recent press reports indicate that the High Commissioner made a sudden visit to India following forceful representations made by the vibrant MP Mano Ganesan on the recent incidents in Sri Lanka. Many months ago I did warn the High Commissioner to expect this kind of situation in Sri Lanka!
[a letter to the editor, published in the morningleader.lk]

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