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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 821

RAW’s puzzling role in Sri Lanka

By Janaka Perera

Sri Lanka’s Posts and Telecommunications Minister Nandana Gunatilake told the SLBC this week that India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) had facilitated JVP leader Somawansa Amarasinghe’s escape to India at the height of the Southern insurgency of 1988-90 sparked-off by the Indo-Lanka Accord.

“We have nothing against India,” but we have to state the facts Gunatilake - former JVP Politburo member - said in an interview on SLBC’s Subharathi Program. He said that Amarasinghe (relative of a former UNP Government minister) had thanked RAW for helping him to escape with his family.

According to Gunatilake instructions had gone to the police and security forces not to arrest Amarasinghe but allow him to leave the country whereas other JVP members at the time had to live in fear of being arrested at any moment, tortured and very likely executed. Gunatilake himself had been compelled to spend the night at the Fort Railway station after buying a platform ticket to avoid arrest.

Although the JVP had spearheaded an anti-Indian campaign following the signing of the Accord, RAW had contacts in the party, Gunatilake recalled. The agents who helped Amarasinghe to escape are still in Indian government service, according to him and did not wish to name them.

However despite these allegations of a JVP-RAW link that party itself has been warning of RAW attempting to manipulate Provincial Councils in the North and East. JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake once told the press that the reason for Delhi’s desire to see the full implementation of the controversial 13th Amendment is that it would serve the Indian agenda and make it easier for them to plant RAW agents in the provincial councils of the island’s Tamil-speaking North and East.

Earlier, the Indian magazine Outlook India reported that RAW helped a Sri Lankan cabinet minister’s daughter to gain admission to an Indian higher educational institution to pursue medical studies.

If all these reports are true then RAW is having a finger in every pie having started with training Tamil militants 25 years ago. It reminds us of Sri Lankan businessmen who fund rival parties at elections so that they (the businessmen) can make use of whoever comes to power.

Even more disturbing is former TELO Leader, N. Srikantha’s recent allegation that the India’s Congress Government wants the Tamil National Alliance to remain a force subservient to India, representing Sri Lanka Tamils. In this context it is intriguing to know why India is reportedly keen to establish a Consulate in Jaffna. If the U.S. Government wants to re-open an American Center in the town (as it was around 40 years ago), no one would give it a second thought – because the Americans have no politico-ethnic link to the North.

If the 2010 Presidential Election results is anything to go by (in the North and East) then it appears that Delhi would prefer to have the TNA on top in the two provinces. And the attitude of the Tamils in general is likely to make things easier for any dubious political group that wants to use them for political ends. Writing in the Island of February 16, under the title ‘Culture of Self exclusion’ S.Sivathasan states:

“To a segment of Tamils in Sri Lanka, alienation from mainstream life has become a habit of thought. It has now got embedded in sentiment and inertia. Perhaps to a people habituated to fatalistic propensities, this mode of action came a bit too easily. “

It is therefore a small wonder the LTTE was able to hijack their minds for almost 30 years and still attempts to do so from overseas. They eliminated virtually every leader that could have become acceptable to majority of Tamils. Today there is hardly a Tamil who can fill the vacuum. In such a context it is no difficulty for an outside agency to manipulate this community for its own ends.

- Asian Tribune -

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