Denouncing India’s offer to train Sri Lankan Naval officers, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to urgently review the “insensitive policy” that has been proposed in utter disregard of the sentiments and emotions of the people of Tamil Nadu.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Ms. Jayalithaa wrote: “I wish to convey our strong protest against this insensitive policy of defence co-operation with Sri Lanka, which totally ignores the impact it may have upon the feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu. I, therefore, request you to urgently review this policy and instruct the Ministry of Defence not to pursue the proposed training programme for Sri Lankan Naval officers by the Indian Navy.”
Ms. Jayalalithaa’s letter on Sunday was triggered by recent media reports on Indian Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral D.K. Joshi’s offer to train Sri Lankan Navy officers in a four-year Bachelor of Technology course while calling on President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo.
According to Ms. Jayalalithaa, she had several times brought to the Prime Minister’s attention the strong sentiments amongst Tamils and in Tamil Nadu on a range of issues relating to India’s relations with the present regime in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the ethnic civil strife in Sri Lanka.
The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly has already passed four resolutions condemning the continuing discrimination against the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka and violation of their human rights, the letter pointed out.
Recalling her previous letters conveying the outrage in Tamil Nadu over the imparting of training to Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, located in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu, Ms. Jayalalithaa termed the latest defence cooperation offer by the Indian Navy as a “great shock” to the people of Tamil Nadu.
The other serious issue, which “clearly demonstrates the harsh and unreasonable attitude of the present Sri Lankan regime”, was the continuing attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy upon innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen on the high seas, followed by their extended periods of detention in Sri Lankan jails and confiscation of their boats, the letter said.
“The commitment made by the Government of India is tantamount to actively working with the Sri Lankan 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 the poor Indian fishermen who regularly bear the brunt of the brutal attacks of the Sri Lankan Navy."
And unlike her previous letters to the Prime Minister, this one ends with a prompt — “May I request a line in reply?”.