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Bhushan asked: In 1987, Sri Lanka had to change its constitution through the 13th Amendment. Wasn't it an encroachment on its sovereignty by India?

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  • S.D. Muni replies: The 13th Amendment was necessitated by the Sri Lankan Government’s commitments made under July 1987 Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement. This Agreement addressed the ethnic issue of Sri Lanka wherein India undertook to help Sri Lanka fight the Tamil militancy and the Sri Lankan Government agreed to accommodate Tamil grievances and devolve power to them. Where was the violation of Sovereignty of Sri Lanka in this?

    The 13th Amendment was passed by the Sri Lankan Parliament by 2/3 majority in November 1987. Why should have India sent the IPKF and sacrificed its soldiers in fighting the LTTE if the Sri Lankan Government was not prepared to seek political accommodation of Tamils domestically. Therefore, there was no force but mutual agreement between India and Sri Lanka to carry out their respective obligations under the 1987 Agreement. India fulfilled its obligations and the IPKF was thrown out by the Sri Lankan Government in 1990 even before the LTTE had been fully contained. The then Sri Lankan Government even helped and armed the LTTE to humiliate India and the IPKF.

    Under the 13th Amendment, Sri Lanka was supposed to create Provincial Councils and devolve powers to them. This amounted to strengthening democracy within Sri Lanka. Under the provisions of this Amendment, Northern and Eastern provinces were to be united as one administrative unit and land and police powers were to be devolved to them. Many of these provisions have been eroded and violated deliberately and consciously, despite repeated assurances that Sri Lanka will “fully implement” its own 13th Amendment. The Northern and Eastern provinces have been de-merged and land and police powers have not been granted to the provinces. That is why the Tamil parties in Sri Lanka are even now, even after elections to Jaffna Provincial Council last year, asking for the implementation of the 13th Amendment. This is the right way towards resolving Sri Lanka's ethnic issue politically and is being resisted only by Sinhala ethnic hardliners with support and encouragement from the Government. To wriggle out of its commitment to the Tamils, the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala political class is raising the fictitious question of sovereignty and blaming India.

    Posted on July 01, 2014