– Submitted by Walter Jayawardhana –
Sri Lanka on Monday reacted strongly to the recent Tamil Nadu assembly resolution against it, saying it was “disturbing” and asked the critics to visit the country to see the progress on the ground instead of going by “exaggerated” allegations of human rights abuses.
The Tamil Nadu Assembly had on March 27, unanimously adopted a resolution urging the Centre to stop treating Sri Lanka as a friendly nation and to slap sanctions on it while demanding a referendum for a separate Tamil Eelam.
“We would like to invite all those who make unfounded and exaggerated allegations as well as unrealistic demands as solutions to Sri Lanka’s future to visit the country and ascertain the progress on the ground in terms of rebuilding the country,” the External Affairs Ministry in Colombo said.
Dubbing the ongoing anti-Sri Lanka protests in Tamil Nadu as unfounded, the government said it was regrettable that sections of Tamil communities living abroad have resorted to sustained protests and calls for unfriendly measures against Sri Lanka, ostensibly to obtain political rights for Tamils in the country.
“Strident demands to stop calling Sri Lanka a friendly country by some are disturbing and do not relate at all to the continuing friendship and cooperation between India and Sri Lanka that has stood the test of time and finds expression today in a multi-faceted relationship encompassing all regions of India and all aspects of modern life including substantive economic interaction,” the statement said.
There was public outrage here in recent weeks due to harassment of Sri Lankan nationals in Chennai including Buddhist monks.
Referring to allegations of human rights abuses levelled against Sri Lanka, the ministry said such allegations are based on hearsay, misinformation, misperceptions and ethno-nationalistic ideologies.
Dealing with the accusations of harassment of Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, the ministry said they are erroneous and without any factual basis.
“The Sri Lanka Navy is under strict orders to treat all Tamil Nadu fishermen, who cross regularly into Sri Lankan waters, in a humane manner,” it said.
“At the same time, Sri Lanka has continually and emphatically impressed upon Indian authorities of the compelling need to take appropriate action regarding the very large number of fishing boats daily entering Sri Lanka’s territorial waters and exploiting fisheries resources, causing grave damage to the livelihoods of fishing communities in the north of Sri Lanka,” the statement said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s ban on Sri Lankan cricket players playing in Chennai in the Indian Premier League also led nationalist groups in Colombo to urge a boycott of the IPL by Sri Lankan players. (Courtesy: The Hindu)