Sri Lanka feared army coup, sought India’s help
The Indian armed forces were put on high alert in the middle of October after a worried Colombo fearing a coup by the Sri Lankan army contacted New Delhi and requested the Indian government to prevent a military takeover, reports Sutirtho Patranobis. Listen to podcast | Timeline: Lanka violenceProfile: Sarath Fonsekaworld Updated: Nov 14, 2009 02:02 IST
The Indian armed forces were put on high alert in the middle of October after a worried Colombo fearing a coup by the Sri Lankan army contacted New Delhi and requested the Indian government to prevent a military takeover.
On the night of October 15, top Lankan politicians and bureaucrats got in touch with New Delhi through the Indian High Commission in Colombo and conveyed their apprehensions and request for help.
Till Thursday, these events were part of political gossip. Now, it’s been put on record by outgoing chief of defence staff, General Sarath Fonseka.
In his letter – 2100-odd words of hurt pride, anger and disgust and 15 reasons for premature retirement -- to President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Fonseka wrote that the government’ action in contacting India on the rumours of a coup tarnished the image of the army.
``…it was noted that the same army which gained victory for the nation was suspected of staging a coup and thereby alerting the Government of India once again on the 15th of October 2009, unnecessarily placing the Indian troops on high alert. This action did tarnish the image and reputation gained by the SLA…This suspicion would have been due to the loyalty of the SLA towards me as its past Commander who led the Army to the historic victory,’’ Fonseka wrote.
He said various agencies mislead Rajapaksa about ``a possible coup immediately after the victory over the LTTE which obviously led to a change of command in spite of my request to be in command until the Army celebrated its 60th Anniversary. This fear psychosis of a coup is well known among the defence circle.’’
It was learnt that during a one-and-half hour meeting between the two on Wednesday, the issue of the coup was brought up by Fonseka. Rajapaksa did not deny it.
When contacted on Friday, Fonseka told HT: ``the information (about the Indian armed forces being put on alert) was accurate’’ and the government here ``had got in touch with somebody in New Delhi’’.
Fonseka made another reference to India while requesting the security cover of ``combat soldiers, bullet proof vehicle, escort vehicles’’ after leaving his post.
"I would also wish to quote an example in the case of the former Indian Chief of Army Staff General A S Vaidya, instrumental in leading the Indian Army in Operation Blue Star against the Sikhs at the Golden Temple, Amristar in 1984, was assassinated whilst on retirement in 1986 purely in revenge of his victories achieved. I do not wish to experience a similar incident," he wrote in the letter.