Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gotabhaya faults India for Sri Lanka conflict

COLOMBO, April 11, 2013

If the Indian government – in power during the conflict in Sri Lanka – had acted responsibly, Sri Lanka would not have experienced a 30-year war, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa has said.

According to local newspaper Daily News, Mr. Rajapaksa observed that 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 Tamil speaking people here.

The remarks came as a response to an article titled 'Why India is right on Sri Lanka', by Hardeep S. Puri, India's former Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, which appeared in The Hindu recently.

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 has also said that Mr. Puri was involved in the Indian operation against the then J.R Jayewardene government, ahead of the Indo-Lanka Accord, in July 1987. "He was one of those aware of the Indian operations here," he said, adding that both, Hardeep S. Puri and his wife, Lakshmi had been attached to India's mission in Colombo during the tenure of J. N. Dixit as India's High Commissioner here.

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." Mr. Rajapaksa said that 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 added.

Observing that Mr. Puri could aid investigation by revealing what was going on at that time, Mr. Rajapaksa said Mr. Dixit, in his memoirs, had said that arming Sri Lankan Tamil youth was one of the two major policy blunders of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Meanwhile, Sinhalese nationalist party Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), has said that before India pointed its finger at Sri Lanka, it should address human rights violations in India, particularly Kashmir.

Expressing skepticism about the 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.
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