We trust China, not India, say Lankans

Hundreds of protestors slammed Modi for urging Colombo to speed up the post-war reconciliation with Tamils

Colombo: Hundreds of Sinhala men and women demonstrated outside the Indian High Commission on Tuesday slamming the new Indian Premier Narendra Modi for urging Colombo to speed up the post-war reconciliation with Tamils, clearly pointing to the hardening of the anti-India stance among the majority Sinhalese and their rulers. The protesters also targeted Tamil Nadu chief minister Ms Jayalalithaa Jayaram, even burning her photograph on the road, for pressuring Modi to initiate steps to probe the ‘genocide’ she alleged was committed against the Tamils during the final stage of the Eelam war in 2009.

A large Modi picture waved by a protester had the slogan ‘A Dictator or Democrat’ printed on it, another placard read ‘Modi don’t be foolish’ and yet another announced: ‘We condemn arm twisting tactics of India’. Slogans and placards also urged President Mahinda Rajapaksa not to ‘bow down and surrender’ to India. The Sinhala anger was inspired by the firm talk reportedly done by Modi during his meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa on May 27 telling him to step up efforts at reconciliation with the Tamils by implementing and even going beyond the 13th amendment to Constitution thereby devolving political powers to the Tamil province, besides the others.

The demonstration by the ‘Collective of National Organisations’ outside the Indian Mission was led by National Freedom Front, a coalition partner in the Rajapaksa government. They raised slogans accusing Modi and Jayalalithaa of interfering in its internal affairs. “These protesters want to convey the message that there should not be any attempt to destabilise our country”, said Patriotic National Front secretary Dr Wasantha Bandara at the rally. He said the government would not succumb to pressure from Modi or Jayalalithaa.

Only on June 4, external affairs minister G. L. Peiris had told the Parliament that Rajapaksa had made it “crystal clear” to Modi during their talks that devolution of police power (as per 13th amendment) to the Tamil province “is not acceptable”.

Clearly, the SAARC card played by Modi at his swearing-in is not working with Colombo as the Sinhala majority continues to view any attempt from across the Palk Strait to press for Tamil rights as supporting a revival of Eelam separatism. “People of Sri Lanka will never allow an Eelam be created out of our country,” said the most repspected Buddhist monk Bengamuwe Nalaka, who is the secretary of the powerful Deshapremi Bhikshu Peramuna, reflecting the anti-India suspicions among the Sinhala people.

In New Delhi, the external affairs ministry had nothing ‘official’ to say about the Colombo protests but officials sought to dismiss suggestions that the anti-India sentiment is now on a high, noting that it was much higher when India voted against Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and when then PM Manmohan Singh did not attend the Chogm summit in Colombo in November.

They also noted that Modi chose to invite Rajapaksa to his swearing-in despite the opposition from Jayalalithaa.

( Source : dc correspondent )
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