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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2252

Drafting of 13th Amendment

By Sugeeswara Senadhira

While Indian diplomats work in earnest to ensure the interests of their country, some of our senior diplomats give top priority to personnel affairs and personal interests. Recently the top bureaucratic position was offered to a senior envoy who finished his three year term in a very important capitol.

However he declined it and asked for an extension and everybody in the Ministry is aware that he wanted to stay in the same place because his alliances with the fair number two in the mission.

Let us examine how Indian diplomats, bureaucrats and military experts promote India’s national and international interests.

‘’ When we drafted the 13th Amendment, most of the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders – TULF leaders as well as militant leaders – wanted Jaffna to be the capital of North and East, but we insisted that Trincomalee should be the capital because of strategic importance of the sea port to India,” former IPKF Commander, General A S Kalkat unwittingly revealed at a seminar in New Delhi in July 2012.

When Kalkat made this acknowledgement to impress the Indian intellectual community as to how the then Indian government of Rajiv Gandhi twisted the arm of the JR regime to get long term political concessions to safeguard Indian interests, he was not aware of the presence of this writer who was a senior diplomat at the Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi. After two other speakers, former High Commissioner Lakhan Lal Mehrotra and M R Narayanswamy, author/journalist made their presentations, this writer intervened to point out that Gen Kalkat’s statement was a proof that the 13th Amendment was a foreign bred formula parachuted into beleaguered island nation and added that what the people of Sri Lanka wanted was a home grown solution to the problem.

Gen Kalkat, trying to defend the Indian role argued that the Sri Lankan people accepted the 13th Amendment and it was passed by the Parliament. However he was reminded that the Parliament approval was obtained amidst stiff opposition from the people and the entire opposition including the current President Mahinda Rajapaksa held a sathyagrah boycotting the parliamentary session.

While Kalkat, in his presentation talked of India’s regional supremacy and the imperative need for smaller neighbours to accept India as the regional leader, the other two speakers, Mehrotra, who bid farewell to Kalkat and IPKF at Trincomalee on March 23, 1990 after President Ranasinghe Premadasa gave them the marching orders and Narayanswamy, the author of LTTE: From Boys to Guerrillas and An Elusive Mind: Velupillai Prabhakaran were more sober in their presentations and acknowledged the fact that Sri Lankans themselves have to find a lasting solution in the spirit of give and take.

Kalkat’s statement at the seminar on Sri Lanka:Peace Audit organized by the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, a leading think tank in New Delhi clearly shows that the draft for the 13th Amendment came from India. Paving way for the 13th Amendment, the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement of July 1987 and the two letters exchanged by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J R Jayewardene were also drafted by South Block, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.

It is very unfortunate that while Indian diplomats skillfully safeguard Indian interests, some of our top diplomats show more interest in their own affairs than the external relations of the country. A case point is India’s vote against Sri Lanka at the UNHRC in Geneva in March.

Indian South Block mandarins said that they had given enough broad hints that New Delhi would vote for the US backed resolution against Sri Lanka. But this message was not conveyed to Colombo for the fear of reprimand. The final result was the team at Geneva was taken completely by surprise and leading three ministers had to work overtime to impress upon India to at least get the resolution diluted.

The mismanagement of some diplomatic missions is mainly due to infighting among top diplomats. President Rajapaksa’s instructions to envoys to keep peace in their missions fell in deaf ears though he said that it was the responsibility of the Ambassador/High Commissioner to ensure the staff worked as a cohesive team. When the envoy of a very important diplomatic mission was requested that he should brief the staff on President Rajapaksa’s speech to envoys, it was ignored and the infighting continued damaging the mission’s efficiency and output.

India had prepared the grounds for the ISLA of 1987 and the 13th Amendment for six long years since reelection of Indira Gandhi in 1980. In that year India’s intelligence service Research and Analyses Wing (RAW) became very active in north and east Sri Lanka. Chennai RAW chief Unikrishnan managed to infiltrate his people into several Tamil militant groups including EPRLF, PLOTE, EROS and TELO. RAW chief Girish Saxena personally obtained the approval from the Prime Minister to train Tamil militants at Indian military camps in Dehra Doon, Gurgaon and other places. As Rohan Gunaratna said in his book Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka, the ISLA was the culmination of the long term strategy of Indian agencies. The 13th Amendment is the final outcome of that strategy.

Sugeeswara Senadhira held five diplomatic postings in New Delhi, Oslo and Paris.

- Asian Tribune -

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