Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday slammed the UPA government for what she called “an insensitive policy of defence cooperation with Sri Lanka, which totally ignores the impact it may have upon the feelings of Tamils”.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Jayalalithaa urged the Centre to review its policy and instruct the defence ministry not to pursue the proposed training programme for Sri Lankan Naval officers by the Indian Navy.
“I am dismayed that our Navy has offered to train Sri Lankan Navy officers and will put them through the four year Bachelor of Technology course being offered to Indian Navy officers,” she said. Her reaction comes against the backdrop of a meeting between the chief of naval staff and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa recently.
“This has come as a great shock to people of Tamil Nadu,” she said. The commitment made by the government was tantamount to actively working with the Sri Lankan government and providing them with necessary means to act more strongly not only against the Tamil minority in Lanka, but also against poor fishermen who regularly bear the brunt of brutal attacks of the Sri Lankan Navy, her letter said.
Earlier, she had objected to the training of Sri Lankan defence personnel at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, in TN. She demanded that the Centre issue a clear policy direction that the Union ministry of defence should not train or engage in any form of co-operation with the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, until satisfactory and credible action was taken by the Lankan government to stop human rights violations against Tamil minorities and end the attacks on TN fishermen.
She had shot off a letter in September asking the Centre to cancel the agreement to supply naval warships to Lanka and ensure that no support of any kind was provided to the island nation. (Times of India)