When Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged visiting Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa to implement the 13th Amendment of his country’s Constition (13A), which provides for provincial councils and also makes Tamil an official language, along with Sinhala, he had his eyes set only on Tamil Nadu. Even if this was a bid to appease the southern state, now playing truant to the BJP, the request to the same leader, who had presided over the LTTE’s decimation, to provide equality, justice, peace and respect to Lankan Tamils was perhaps unduly optimistic.
Welcoming Mr Rajapaksa, accused of brutal genocide in the aftermath of the ethnic conflict that ended in 2009, with a red carpet itself was resented in Tamil Nadu and in some quarters overseas. It’s no secret that Mr Rajapaksa always had the Indian government’s support, which he acknowledged during the five-day sojourn saying “we would not have won (in 2009) without India’s help”, it was unnecessary for Mr Modi to pose as someone concerned about the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils. Mr Rajapaksa was honest enough in his expression of gratitude by not referring to India’s abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, and even said: “India is a relative, others are friends”.
While he is a frequent traveller to India, either for conclaves or to meet political leaders even when he was in the Opposition or as a pilgrim, this is his first visit as Prime Minister. India could have made use of the opportunity to put real pressure on him to find an immediate and lasting solution to the problems of the Tamil people. His saying that he would talk to elected Tamil representatives may be a ruse to dodge the real issue. Ordinary people are facing the brunt of Sinhala chauvinism and domination, along with official apathy, and it is the Colombo government’s duty to address the problem.