Union Minister of State for Defence M.M. Pallam Raju’s remarks that India would continue to train Sri Lankan defence personnel as it was a friendly nation evoked widespread criticism from political parties in Tamil Nadu. Most vociferous was DMK president M. Karunanidhi, who had wondered whether India could consider Sri Lanka as a friendly country when it was working closely with China.
“The relationship between India and Sri Lanka could be called ‘one-sided’ and can never be described ‘mutual’,” said Mr. Karunanidhi in a strongly-worded statement here.
Mr. Karunanidhi, a constituent of the Congress-led UPA at the Centre, sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s intervention in this matter and wanted Mr. Pallam Raju to reconsider his opinion.
He wanted the Prime Minister to ensure that the training given to the two Sri Lankan Army officials was stopped at once and they were sent back to their country.
Mr. Karunanidhi said Sri Lanka’s Armed Forces have set up bases in places such as Vavuniya, Killinochi, Mannar, Thallady, and Elephant Pass in the northern province with the assistance of the Chinese, and Chinese Defence Minister Liang Quanglie was visiting them to discuss the issue.
“Moreover, a 96-member delegation is visiting North-Eastern States on September 15. China has executed 14 schemes in Sri Lanka at a cost of Rs. 36,000 crore and constructed a school for the wards of the Sri Lankan Army personnel at a cost of Rs. nine crore. Sri Lanka has entered into an agreement with China for the purchase of MA-69 rifles,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.
He said when China had offered six-fold assistance when compared to what India had offered, what made India believe that Sri Lanka was a friendly nation.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss said Mr. Pallam Raju’s remarks had betrayed his ignorance of the geo-political situation since Sri Lanka had joined hands with China against India.
“His remarks go to show both he and the Indian government failed to respect the sentiments of the Tamils and leaders of Tamil Nadu,” he said.
Alleging the India had been following a “flawed foreign policy” towards Sri Lanka, he wanted the Centre to stop the training to the Army officials.