Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on Saturday accused the Union government of allowing the Coast Guard to participate in a marine defence exercise with Sri Lanka in callous disregard of the emotions of the people of Tamil Nadu.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she asked him to urgently review the policy of defence cooperation with Sri Lanka, instruct the Defence Ministry not to participate in the naval exercises and immediately recall the two Indian Coast Guard ships and personnel deployed for the exercises.
Ms. Jayalalithaa recalled her earlier letters, drawing the Centre’s attention to the deep, widespread and strong sentiments among all sections of society on the need for holding the Sri Lanka government to account in the aftermath of the ethnic conflict, marked by a genocide of the Tamil minority.
“The Tamil Nadu Assembly has already passed four resolutions, condemning the continuing discrimination against the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka and violation of their human rights and calling for a strong response from the Indian government,” she said.
Ms. Jayalalithaa also accused the Sri Lankan government of persisting with its policy of launching punitive and unprovoked attacks on innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen making a living by fishing in their traditional fishing waters. “Such attacks and abductions are followed by extended periods of detention in Sri Lankan jails and confiscation of boats, fishing nets and other gear…,” which caused the fishermen extensive economic losses and reduced them to penury and condemned them and their families to mental agony.
The Chief Minister said that even on November 30, she had written to condemn the proposal made by the Indian Chief of Naval Staff to enrol Sri Lankan Navy personnel in the four-year Bachelor of Technology now offered to Indian naval officers. “I am, therefore, totally dismayed to note from media reports that the Coast Guard is participating in a marine defence exercise,” she said
Ms. Jayalalithaa said India extended an open hand of cooperation to the Sri Lankan Navy , but the Sri Lankan Navy continued to prey upon innocent Tamil Nadu fishermen with impunity. “Such an overt act of defence cooperation with a nation that puts down its own hapless Tamil minority citizens and perpetrates serious human rights violations upon them can only be termed outrageous and condemnable,” she said.