NEW DELHI:Even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Colombo on her second bilateral trip, leading Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora group, Global Tamil Forum sought “formal engagement” with Indian government to begin a dialogue to strengthen moderate voices not just within the Diaspora, but also inside Sri Lanka.
The Diaspora has been a major actor in Sri Lanka’s polity – from supporting the Tamil Tigers during the civil war to now actively helping Maithripala Sirisena government heal the wounds.
Last November, GTF, along with other Tamil Diaspora groups, were finally removed from the list of banned organisations, which had been issued by former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“The new government of Sri Lanka acknowledges the Diaspora as an important stakeholder. GTF has constructively engaged with the various stakeholders in Sri Lanka including the new government,” Suren Surendiran, spokesperson and Director, Strategic Initiatives, GTF told Express from London.
With even Colombo having no more trepidation, the GTF wants to engage directly with India – as it will reinforce the “moderate” majority at this critical juncture.
“GTF believes that formal engagement and acknowledgement by the Indian Government is essential and an urgent need to strengthen the moderate voices within the Diaspora,” Surendiran said, adding, “This, we believe in turn will strengthen the collective moderate stands within and outside Sri Lanka.”
“Although members of GTF have met with BJP Leadership in Tamil Nadu and in Delhi, unfortunately the reality is that GTF’s aspirational relationship with the Indian Government hasn’t been realised as yet,” he asserted.
From being “subdued and reactionary”, Indian foreign policy has “course corrected” to proactively taking a regional leadership role after the Modi government took over, believes the GTF official.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the first bilateral trip to Colombo by an Indian premier in 25 years, while Swaraj has already made two visits. “These show the diplomatic engagement with Colombo is now at a different scale,” Surendiran pointed out. He felt Modi had been “firm” with Rajpaksa to work for a political settlement
(Read full interview: India Needs to Urgently Engage With Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora Groups: Global Tamil Forum)