Round table conference on ‘Bharat-Sri Lanka Relations: New Challenges’
—Dr Subramanian Swamy
“Scientific reports have proved that the DNAs of people from India and Sri Lanka are the same. In the wake of these facts the Government of India should focus its attention on the plight of ordinary Tamils and not on the LTTE. If India spoils its relations with Sri Lanka then yet another neighbouring country would become our enemy and would then be exploited by China and Pakistan,” said former Union Minister and president of Janata Party Dr Subramanian Swamy. He was speaking at a round table conference titled ‘Bharat-Sri Lanka Relations: New Challenges’ organised by the India Foundation. The conference was organised at the India International Centre on May 9.
The conference was attended by a galaxy of intellectuals including editor of The Pioneer Shri Chandan Mitra, Rajya Sabha MP Shri Tarun Vijay, Smt Jaya Jaitley, Organiser editor Dr R Balashankar, RSS National Executive Member Shri Ram Madhav and diplomat Shri NN Jha.
Dr Swamy further said relations between India and Sri Lanka are both cultural and historical as Sri Ram appointed Vibhishan as the King of Sri Lanka after defeating Ravana. Referring to the issue of Tamil people he said it is a regional issue and regional issues should not be given precedence over national interest. “Due to myopic policies of the present UPA government at the Centre, all neighbouring countries are turning hostile towards India, which marks a big diplomatic failure of the Government,” he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP, Shri Balbir Punj who was also part of a delegation of Indian MPs that recently visited Sri Lanka, said Sri Lankan Parliament has a statue of Vibhishan, who is revered and acknowledged by Sri Lankans as their first King. Shri Punj added that though Sri Lankan people do not understand much of Hindi yet they love and watch Hindi movies and like listening to Hindi songs. He further said that Sri Lankans are followers of Buddhism and have a deep regard towards India. Yet, Tamils and Sinhalese live in complete separation in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Army has been deployed in all Tamil dominated areas and the situation is so grim that if any individual from the Tamil community wants to organise a function or a party, he/she needs to first inform the Army. No decision can be taken without Army’s permission, he added. He said various associations of Sri Lankan Tamilians have told him that they all want and favour an undivided Sri Lanka.
CPI’s D Raja said he was the first person who spoke for the rights of Sri Lankan Tamilians. Detailing on the ground realities, he said Tamilians can live in Sri Lanka but not as second class citizens. Preference to Sinhalese language is given across government jobs and other places. The Sri Lankan Army and Police have almost zero percentage of Tamilians. He further explained that after Independence, India and Sri Lanka had entered into an agreement under which Sri Lanka sent back a few Tamilians to India. This was unfortunate. After Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination Tamil movement in Sri Lanka turned into a terrorist movement. He further pointed out that today all Tamil monuments are being destroyed in Sri Lanka. “Though I am a Communist yet I have to say that Buddhist idols are being put up at the Hindu temples in Sri Lanka. At several places it becomes difficult to distinguish whether the temple is of Hindus or of Buddhists. In fact, now the movement has graduated from terror opposition to being a Tamil opposition,” he added.
The conference was moderated by the BJP spokesperson Smt Nirmala Sitharaman.