Flays Centre for its proposal to supply two naval warships to Sri Lanka

Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Wednesday urged the Centre not to extend support of any kind to Sri Lankan military forces even if there is an agreement to supply hardware such as warships.

Criticising the Centre for its proposal to supply two naval warships to Sri Lanka, Ms. Jayalalithaa said any move to supply military hardware would be the most telling statement on the “insensitivity” of the Union government towards the strong sentiment in Tamil Nadu.

Stating this in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she said the widespread sentiment among all sections of society and shades of political opinion in Tamil Nadu was the need to hold the Sri Lankan regime to account for the “acts of genocide and war crimes committed in the closing stages of the civil war. There is continued discrimination against the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka who are treated as second class citizens in their own country,” she added.

Urging Mr. Singh to clarify media reports that quoted the Union Minister of State in his office about the plan to sell two warships, the Chief Minister said: “I strongly urge you to clarify… without any delay. Even if there is an existing agreement for supply of naval warships… cancel the agreement and ensure that no support of any kind is provided to the Sri Lankan military forces.”

She said while the Minister of State appeared to have indicated that he would communicate to the Prime Minister the strength of the emotions and feelings among the people and political parties in Tamil Nadu against any such move, “what amazes me is that the Government of India could even contemplate such a move. Even if there is a commitment under an old agreement for such supply of naval warships, in the present circumstances, the Government of India ought to have cancelled such an agreement.”

Ms. Jayalalithaa said the Union government must hold the Sri Lankan regime accountable for its acts of genocide and war crimes against the Tamil speaking minority.

The proposal to sell warships would be seen as an “act of actively working with the regime and providing them with the necessary wherewithal to act even more strongly not only against the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka, but also against poor Indian fishermen.”

Noting that she had written several letters on a range of issues relating to India’s relations with the present regime in Sri Lanka, the Chief Minister said given the strength of the public sentiment in Tamil Nadu she was quite sure that the Centre would not supply any military hardware to Sri Lanka. The naval warships could be potentially deployed against Indian fishermen in the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar.

More In: Tamil Nadu | National