Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to rein in Colombo from either diluting or repealing the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution, providing for limited autonomy to Tamil-dominated North and Eastern provinces of the island nation.
In a missive to Singh, she flayed Colombo and drew his attention to the sustained attempts of the Lankan establishment to do away with this provision.
Jayalalithaa said batting for the 13th Amendment in no way could be construed as backtracking, for she remains committed to a referendum for establishing an independent ‘Eelam’. While reiterating ‘Eelam’ as the only solution for the Lankan Tamils, she said the 13th Amendment was an instrument to secure right to self determination.
“While the aspirations of the Sri Lankan Tamils can be realized only through a Tamil Eelam, the process of securing the right to self determination, through the devolvement of democratic decentralization by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka should not be jeopardized in any manner,” she told Singh.
Criticising the Lankan government and the various voices calling for the nullification of the 13th Amendment, Jayalalithaa said recent developments had meant the “worst fears” over the motives of Colombo with regard to the rehabilitation of the Tamil minority are coming true. In her view, Lankan premier Mahinda Rajapakse was coming under the influence of hawkish Sinhalese right wing groups in setting up the Parliamentary Select Committee to review the 13th Amendment with the sole motive of repealing the statute before the Northern Provincial Council elections slated for September.
“It is a fact that the government of Sri Lanka has never been serious about genuine devolution of power to the Tamils and that it has regularly reneged on promises made in this regard. The merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces into one administrative unit as contemplated in the Indo-Sri Lankan accord was, in fact, dismantled by the government of Sri Lanka in January 2007, following an order of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court nullifying the merger,” read Jayalalithaa’s letter.
“The demerger of the North Eastern Council has to be construed as a serious setback to the Indo-Sri Lankan accord and, perhaps, as a sinister first step leading to the eventual abrogation and repeal of the 13th Amendment, which has starkly appeared on the agenda now,” Jayalalithaa added. She then urged the PM to ensure that India doesn’t ease up on its strategic regional interests or that of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.