India has strained relations with virtually all of its neighbors. India functions as the modern Asian imperialist. All of India’s neighbors will have dossiers of issues related to incursions, interventions, interferences and covert operations to relate about India. Raising concerns about India’s security issues, India deems it can dictate how its neighbors should function and India makes use of its powerful status to prevail over countries less powerful than itself. The economic, cultural, military engagements by India has no other purpose than to create ‘protectorates’ out of India’s neighbors to function according to India’s dictates. Having acquired strategic positioning and established joint ventures and control over strategic assets of these countries, it translates to India vesting control over these areas with no say by the host nation.
Sri Lanka is another victim of India’s covert operation. Have we forgotten India’s role in passing the pillow of the separatist struggle from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka using Tamil militancy with a dual role to destabilize Sri Lanka? Armed militancy was created by India, clandestinely training Sri Lankan Tamil youth, arming and funding them and then using selected members as Indian agents (Kittu, Mahaththaya). India drew up the bogus Indo-Lanka Accord fictitiously creating the homeland myth and merging two provinces so it could vest control over the Trincomalee harbor. Indian illegal immigrants have been flooding Sri Lanka freely and LTTE too claimed 37% of its fighters were Indian. India even forced Sri Lanka to change its constitution and introduce the 13a and the provincial council system which the racist Tamil leaders are using to demand federal system of governance a step ahead of separation as virtually all these leaders are controlled by the Indian establishment proven by the fact that they regularly visit India and Indian officials regularly dictate their demands.
This painful past should entail Sri Lanka to learn lessons and be cautious of India’s every motive however ‘friendly’ it is packaged.
Why is the government drawing up a series of secretive documents that is virtually handing over the country to India? There is news that India is to be given the gas plant in Kerewalapitiya and joint venture with Ceypetco and Trinco Tank farm, to develop the Trincomalee port, to set up a power plant in Sampoor, India to be given industrial zones in Western province, developing the Dambulla-Trinco road as well as developing the Northern roads, Mannar-Jaffna and Mannar-Trincomalee, India to undertake Hydrographic Survey of Sri Lanka, efforts to divide Sri Lanka’s military and have it coordinating with India, ministers of the Sri Lankan government were also seen openly mooting the idea of handing over Sri Lanka’s Ports to India to develop, who gives a countries port to an enemy and a competitor? India to supply helicopters to Sri Lanka ..now that might not be such a bad idea given the failure rate and if these are assigned to only VVIP travels.
Now just look at the scenario of India being given the Trinco habor and India building road and rail network from Mannar cutting across to Trincomalee together with the direct road link from India to Sri Lanka and what does this spell out to you? Does it not mean that India has strategically cut off entire North from the South across Mannar direct to Trincomalee and there is no requirement of a re-merger by adopting this method? It is a Sudan-South Sudan like creation economically and we wonder whether the fools in the Sri Lankan government in particular the officials who are drafting these MOUs cannot see the long term repercussions for Sri Lanka. Or are they too working in the interest of India not Sri Lanka? These are detrimental and dangerous deals that Sri Lanka should not make.
To understand the nature of the danger, it is good to look at the record of India’s treatment of all of its neighbors when India controls resources and when India deems nations are not following India’s dictates. These examples are good enough to deal with India at arms length and with caution for India has never shown itself to be a true friend at any time for any of its neighbors other than for its own convenience and its own agendas.
The British Empire after over 300 years of colonial rule created India by cobbling independent princely states and territories and gave it independence in 1947 together with Pakistan. The division was another divide and rule outcome contributing to much bloodshed and animosity. The Jammu-Kashmir issue is also a British created legacy. However, the Indian crimes in Kashmir has been documented but nothing done about them. International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-Administered Kashmir (IPTK) released a scathing report against the rape of Kashmiri women by the Indian forces. More than 10,000 women are said to have been raped. Kashmir Media Service report there are 107,000 orphaned children and 22,764 widowed women in Kashmir. This calls to mind the 3000 rapes by IPKF soldiers in Sri Lanka. Kashmir’s population is just 1million but there are over 300,000 Indian troops and officers stationed. Since 1990, nearly 100,000 Kashmiris including women and children have been killed. This is the same India that is sponsoring resolutions against Sri Lanka for accountability and its external minister is claiming that India feels ‘pain and anguish’ about the Tamil people. What about the Kashmiris that the Indians are violating?
It was only in 2016 that the Indian PM said that he had a task force placed to cut off water to Pakistan. It raised the question whether India is planning to revoke the 1960 Indus Water Treaty that shares waters of 6 rivers between Pakistan and India.
The same Indira Gandhi who trained Sri Lanka’s Tamil militants also trained Mukti Bahini guerilla fighters to divide Pakistan and create Bangladesh in 1971. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts, Brigadier Uban sent in Indian soldiers or rather CIA-trained, Indian-funded Tibetans who were under the direct command of RAW’s legendary spymaster Rameshwar Kao. The main purpose of creating RAW in 1968 was to organize covert operations in Bangladesh. Just as India failed to honor the IPKF soldiers who were killed in Sri Lanka by the very men India trained, India has conveniently forgotten to honor the RAW officers who helped with the covert operation. We can only guess how many Indian intelligence officials are placed inside India’s neighbors.
Indira Gandhi announced, “Dacca is now the free capital of a free country.” The plan was to also annex Sri Lanka to India using Tamil militancy. After Bangladesh was given independence, it was a case of Bangladesh having to remain eternally ‘grateful’ to India for making it ‘free’. Was Bangladesh truly ‘free’ or did India now ‘control’ Bangladesh and is this the same outcome likely to result from the tomfoolery of Sri Lanka’s leaders. However, learning lessons from Bangladesh where India had to deal with security and water issues, India is now making sure that India wrests control over Sri Lanka’s entire gamut of chokepoints placed well in India’s favor to control as and when required.
Of late, 7 years after the defeat of the LTTE, the Indian are now claiming to have had a role in the LTTE’s defeat and the killing of Prabakaran. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s Awami League who promised autonomy and who sought Indian help but later began to distance from Indian contacts was assassinated with his whole family except daughter. Glaring similarities to how India initially assisted Prabakaran who later went on to distance himself from India.
Immediately after the January 2015 election, it was apparent that the Indians had played a major role in bringing about regime change even deciding on the candidate to contest. In 2013 just before Bhutan’s elections India cut off its longstanding cooking gas and kerosene subsidies (amounting to 50 crore) to Bhutan resulting in price hikes and clearly meant to influence Bhutans elections against the incumbent PM and his party (DPT). What did the Bhutan PM do wrong by India? He had talks with Chinese PM and had agreed to expand relations without obtaining India’s ‘permission’. Rajapakse’s closeness with the Chinese became the reason for his eventual regime change at elections just as Bhutan PM also lost. It showed that Indian presence on the ground and among political parties in foreign nations could bear dangerous consequences. Immediate after elections India restored the withdrawn subsidies! Giving India an economic stranglehold over internal affairs is committing to strangling one’s citizens. Does the Ranil-MS administration not understand this much? It would be interesting to know how many of Sri Lanka’s politicians are in the pocket of India and being used on and off as puppets when India decides! This is not what the Indian public would want its government to be doing. But how many Indians are aware of the interventions and interferences India regularly commits upon all of its neighbors and then cries foul at anti-Indian sentiments?
How ‘friendly’ were the treaties of ‘friendship’ India signed with Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan between 1949 to 1950? Let us not forget how India merged Sikkim in 1975. More recently, when Nepal refused to change provisions in its new constitution (7 clauses to be exact) India blocked essentials entering Nepal through India’s borders. The situation was such that China had to send 1.3 million liters of gasoline plus other essentials. India did the same in 1989 forcing Nepal into submission.
Do we in Sri Lanka want to invite the same trouble? With over 95% of Bhutan’s trade being in the hands of India, Bhutan cannot afford to do anything to anger India. Bhutan has just 750,000 population but the Indian military presence is overwhelming. In short, Bhutan cannot do anything without the permission of India. Do you call that a sovereign nation? Bhutan remains ‘sovereign’ so long as Bhutan adheres to India. To test this, all Bhutan needs to do is to invite a Chinese delegation to Bhutan to see how India would react and the reaction would be detrimental to the Bhutanese people. Is this what we want happening to us in Sri Lanka?
Remember November 1988 when LTTE invaded Maldives? India sent 1600 troops by air. However, during this time period LTTE was very much in control of India.
Both Nepal and Maldives have shown resistance to India’s interference something Sri Lanka’s leaders have been shy to do other than President Premadasa who unceremoniously sent the IPKF packing back to India and refused to be present at the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in 1987. In 2015 Maldivian President told visiting Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj that his government would not be dictated to and India should refrain from interfering in Maldivian domestic affairs. The same Indian minister recently made an open threat at Sri Lanka and not a single statement of disappointment has been issued against the Indian Government by the Sri Lankan leaders.
The present government came to power with the connivance of many players unbeknownst to the majority voters. Yet 62lakhs placed faith in them to govern the country believing that they would do better than the former regime. Signing secret MOUs virtually handing over Sri Lanka to a neighbor that has a history of covert interference and intervention as its foreign policy is committing hara kiri and subjecting the nation and the people to gross injustices tantamount to betraying the nation. Let us remind the present government that Sri Lanka has a proud history of withstanding foreign oppression and every time the country fell into the hands of the enemy it was due to our own people handing over the country to them. We are wondering whether this government too is planning to enter that list of traitors.
By Shenali D Waduge
Source: Asia-Pacific Research