Had India acted responsibly, Sri Lanka would not have experienced a 30-year war, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has said.
According to local newspaper Daily News, Mr. Rajapaksa, who is a brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said India could never absolve itself of the responsibility for creating terrorism here, though some of those directly involved in subverting Sri Lanka were blaming the Rajapaksa administration for the plight of the Tamil-speaking people here.
The remarks came in response to a recent article, ‘Why India is right on Sri Lanka’ by Hardeep S. Puri, India’s former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, published in The Hindu.
The news report quotes him as having said “people of all communities would have been still suffering the horrors of war, if not for the eradication of terrorism in May 2009, following a three-year combined security forces campaign”.
The Defence Secretary said Mr. Puri was involved in the Indian operation against the Jayewardene government, ahead of the India-Sri Lanka Accord in July 1987.
“He was one of those aware of the Indian operations here,” he said adding that both Mr. Puri and his wife, Lakshmi, were attached to the Indian mission here during the tenure of J. N. Dixit as High Commissioner.
Responding to Mr. Puri’s call for investigation into “specific allegations of war crimes during the last 100 days of military operations”, Mr. Rajapaksa said: “Those demanding accountability on Sri Lanka’s part for alleged atrocities committed during the last 100 days of the conflict were silent on the origin of terrorism here.” Indian intervention had resulted in a major regional crisis, when Sri Lankan terrorists, trained by Indians, raided the Maldives in early November 1988. “The international community should consider a comprehensive investigation into the issue beginning with the Indian intervention,” he said.
Mr. Puri could aid an investigation by revealing what was going on at that time. Mr. Dixit, in his memoirs, had said that arming Sri Lankan Tamil youths was one of the two major policy blunders of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Mr. Rajapaksa said.
Meanwhile, Sinhalese nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) has said that before New Delhi pointed the finger at Sri Lanka, it should address human rights violations in India, particularly Kashmir.
Expressing scepticism about an Indian parliamentary delegation’s visit, JHU general secretary and Science and Technology Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka said that if the delegation had come with honourable intentions, their visit would be welcome, but it was evident that the Indian visit was part of a protest campaign to further distort the country’s image, according to a report in Daily Mirror here.
Keywords: Eelam war, Rajapaksa government, LTTE, Indo-Lanka Accord, Hardeep S. Puri article, Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lanka war crimes, Indo-Sri Lanka ties, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Jayewardene government, Gotabaya Rajapaksa