Expressing dismay over reports of Indian Coast Guard participating in naval exercises with Sri Lankan Navy, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to recall the two ships and personnel participating in the event in the island nation.
“This is in complete... disregard of the strong views and emotions of the people of Tamil Nadu,” she said in a letter to Singh today.
The Sri Lankan Navy continues to prey on innocent fishermen from Tamil Nadu and subjects them to abduction, arrest, torture and long periods of detention, she added.
Jayalalithaa’s tough stand on the naval exercise has once again cast a pall on the India-Sri Lanka ties. Faced with protests by political parties in Tamil Nadu, Singh did not attend a Commonwealth summit held this November in the island nation.
The two-decade long Sri Lankan civil war fraught with alleged human rights violations has touched a raw nerve in Tamil Nadu. A UN report suggests Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese-dominated forces may have killed as many as 40,000 Tamils — a minority group in the island nation — towards the end of the war in 2009.
“The Government of India has still chosen to ride roughshod over the groundswell of emotions in Tamil Nadu,” Jayalalithaa said.
“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... can only be termed as outrageous and condemnable,” she added.
The Tamil Nadu chief minister had earlier condemned a proposal to enroll Sri Lankan Navy personnel in a four-year bachelor of technology course offered to Indian Naval officers.
Jayalalithaa is also against imparting training among Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Tamil Nadu.
She had earlier urged the Centre to “issue a clear policy direction that the ministry of defence should not hereafter provide training, or engage in any form of co-operation with the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, until satisfactory and credible action is taken by the Government of Sri Lanka (in the alleged rights violation cases)”.