ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sri Lanka's Constitutional Problem

Problem Pursuit of Peace in Sri Lanka: Past Failures and Future Prospects edited by K M de Silva and G H Peiris; International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Kandy, Sri Lanka in association with the United States Institute of Peace, Washington, DC.

Not a few in New Delhi, including the high ones in the government, and in Chennai seem to have thought that Sri Lanka’s peril was India’s opportunity. The great power complex assiduously fostered by Jawaharlal Nehru assumed ridiculous proportions under Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Under the BJP regime it has acquired a saffron hue.

When in early May 2000 Sri Lanka turned to India for help to fight back the LTTE’s menace to the country’s integrity, India’s response was not only to refuse military assistance – none asked for its troops – but to project its own mediation ousting the Norwegian facilitator, loudly offer help in the evacuation of Sri Lanka’s forces – provided they accept a ceasefire to the LTTE’s advantage – and proceed to lecture to Sri Lanka on the dire need for conciliation with the LTTE. There was little credibility in India’s international campaign against terrorism given its systematic use of the renegade militants in Kashmir, under the wings of the security forces. It was a form of state-sponsored terrorism first used in Panjab and borrowed from the Latin American dictators. Now all pretence is discarded. Even the assassination of a cabinet minister in Sri Lanka has not disturbed New Delhi’s equanimity. In the entire month and a half – May to mid-June 2000 – while prime minister A B Vajpayee and foreign minister Jaswant Singh lectured to the Sri Lankans – the latter in Colombo itself on June 11 and 12 – not once has either denounced a murderous outfit which assassinated India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and whose leader, V Prabhakaran’s extradition India was demanding as late as in 1996. The LTTE is a universally acknowledged terrorist organisation. The BJP government spares it from its condemnation of terrorism. Nor would it insist, as it does in the case of the Hurriyat in Kashmir, that it first accept the Sri Lankan constitution or at least the unity of the country as a precondition to parleys.

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