India underwrote the
Indo-Lanka Accord in the interests of justice, democracy and the
ennobling values of fairplay in Sri Lanka writes M. A.
Sumanthiran TNA MP, with reference to the government's planned
amendments to the 13th Amendment to the constitution. He is loud
and clear -- he implies by this logic that India is the
guarantor of democratic values in the region.
If that is so, India must be even handed in upholding those
'values' but India's own celebrated intellectuals such as
Arundathy Roy say that in Kashmir the Indian government has
ridden roughshod over those values.
She says the Indians tortured -- yes tortured -- upwards of
1000 people in Kashmir to put down the rebellion, and she adds
that Kashmir's people are oppressed and denied their just rights
by the Indian state.
There are many other eminent Indian writers such as Sanjay
Kak who share in those sentiments.
Curious then that India the guarantor of 'freedom and
democracy' for Sri Lankans cannot ensure that those values are
sustained back home, for the benefit of Indians, not forgetting
that Kashmiris are Indians too.
People such as Sumanthiran plainly put -- should stop talking
through their hat. Indian intervention in Sri Lanka had much to
do with regional realpolitik, and it is pertinent to remember
that all major newspapers in the West such as the New York Times
and the Washington Post editorialized against the Indian
incursion/adventure at that time. Dr Susantha Gunatilleke
reminded readers about it recently quoting chapter and verse,
writing to this newspaper.
Justice would have been done much faster with respect to
minority Tamils if the Indians had not done what they did and
conjured up the Indo-Lanka Accord which stalled the military
operation against the Tamil Tigers.
Those who try to sanitize the past with regard the Indo-Lanka
Accord seek to make Sri Lanka appear a satrapy of India, but
their slip shows when their true motives are revealed for what
they are. They want to stymie legitimate constitutional change
which if carried out would reflect the wishes of the mass of
people that elected the government to power.
Framing the issue as one of justice and freedom would not do
when India simply cannot live up regionally to that reputation,
even assuming it was acceptable for a larger neighbour to police
a smaller one. People who purport to be experts on these things
should think about those perspectives before they seek to
bamboozle the people with their petty excuses for seeking Indian
stewardship on what are after all strictly domestic issues by
As lawyer S. L. Gunasekera pointed out recently in a
commentary, the Indo-Lanka Accord has for long been a dead
letter. Not even Shivashankar Menon will attempt to assert
otherwise unless he deliberately wants to look rather sheepish.
The accord was a contract that was breached and now since
that much is clear, the Sumanthirans of this world desperately
want to frame the issue in a different way to show that India
somehow plays a role as a moral force for change -- when they
know that under the circumstances of regional realpolitik
nothing could be further from the truth, to put it as gently as
India's 'truth and justice' record in Kashmir was so bad that
the country had to stave off a resolution in the UN Human Rights
Council -- in case Mr. Sumanthiran was not aware of the fact.
The staving off was possible as India commands more heft as a
regional and ultimately a global player than most other nations,
but that does not detract from the fact that India cannot aspire
to be a moral force for change in the region with a record that
is questioned in the UN Human Rights Council. As for
Sumanthiran, well that's another matter. To put it succinctly,
he sounds pompous as usual, and typically out of this depth.