53% of Sri Lanka's external military training provided by India, TPM protests

[TamilNet, Friday, 28 March 2008, 15:10 GMT]
Addressing the large demonstration of the Tamil Protection Movement (TPM) opposite the Memorial Hall in Chennai Thursday, Viduthalai Chi'ruththaika'l Kadchi (VCK, Liberation Panthers Party) President Thol. Thirumavalavan, who condemned the Indian government for giving a red carpet welcome to Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, charged that one of the primary objectives of Fonseka 's recent visit was to seek a substantial increase in the number of Sri Lankan forces being trained in India. "There has been a three hundred percentage increase in the number of training slots offered to Sri Lankan armed forces personnel between the year 2006-2007 and 2007-2008," he charged.

He said that the Indian Government, by giving a red carpet welcome to the SLA Commander, had hurt the sentiments of the sixty million Tamils of Tamil Nadu.

Thirumavalavan said that according to the website of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, 53% of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces were trained in India. He maintained that this shocking number might be disbelieved if the source of information was some Sri Lankan Government website, or some other private website, but this was not the case. He pointed out that ever since Congress came to power there has been manifold increase in the training given to Sri Lankan Armed forces. He added that Fonseka had demanded the external training to be increased from 53% to 75%.

The TPM President accused New Delhi of advocating dialogue and diplomacy publicly while clandestinely training Sri Lankan Armed forces.

He said that Indian Government had betrayed the Tamil people and the Tamil society by aiding the genocidal Sri Lankan Government. In his emotionally charged speech, he said that the training imparted by India would be used by the SLA to kill the innocent children, such as what had happened in Chegnchoalai orphanage complex in Mullaiththeevu. "Indian military aid would only increase Tamil genocide in the island," he added, and vowed that the Tamil people of Tamil Nadu would "never be mute spectators against such atrocities."

Presently 53% of the external training of Sri Lankan forces is taking place in India as per the "Brief on India-Sri Lanka Relations" available on the Indian Ministry of External Affairs website. With Congress at the helm of affairs in New Delhi, the number is expected to shoot up drastically, he warned.

Not only does India train the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, it also conducts training programmes for Sri Lankan Police. According to information available on the Ministry of External Affairs website, 465 Sri Lankan Police officers have been trained since December 2005. Simultaneously, another 400 Sri Lankan Police personnel were being trained in India for maintenance of public order.

The document released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs on 26 February, 2007, and posted in its website, titled 'Brief on India-Sri Lanka Relations', which was referred by Mr. Thirumavalavan, states the following under Defence Cooperation:

"A major part of the training of Sri Lankan Armed Forces, i.e. upto 53%, is carried out in India. There has been a significant increase in the number of training slots offered to Sri Lankan armed forces personnel in recent years. For 2006-7, the allotted slots are 870 with 545 for the Army, 216 for Navy and 109 for Air Force. In 2005-06, 977 courses were offered; and for 2007-08, courses requested are 2579 with 1208 for Army, 518 for Navy and 853 for Air Force. Besides this, there is continued cooperation in terms of exchange of visits and cooperation between Navies. Indian Coast Guard extended assistance to Sri Lanka in containing oil spill off Galle in Sept 2006."

Thirumavalavan appealed to the state government to impress upon New Delhi the need to talk to Sri Lanka to put an end to military action against the Tamils. He also pointed out that 62 Indian fishermen were kidnapped by the Sri Lanka Navy only during Sarath Fonseka's Indian visit. He wondered how the Indian Government could give him a red carpet welcome in such circumstances.

Since 1983, 302 Tamil Nadu fishermen had sucuumbed to attacks from the SLN, but even once the Indian Government had not condemned the killing of its own fishermen, he said. He urged the Indian Government to retrieve Kachhatheevu since it was the only solution to protect Tamil Nadu fishermen from the SLN.

Coming down heavily on the de-merger of the North and East, he said that it was a challenge to India and the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord inked by J R Jayawardene and Rajiv Gandhi. He observed why Congress politicians, in spite of their devotion to Rajiv Gandhi, remained silent when the pact signed by their late leader was being trampled upon.

Thirumavalavan pointed out that the very people who were condemning the divisive feelings between Sinhalese and Tamils were instigating sectarianism between Tamils of the North and the East. The de-merger of the North and East was a "conspiracy of Sinhala chauvinist forces who wanted to engineer a permanent divide among the Tamils," he alleged and urged the Tamil Nadu Government to "interfere in this matter and undo the de-merger which posed a threat to Tamil unity."

Thirumavalavan thanked Dr. S. Ramadoss for publicly coming in support of the Eelam Tamils despite being a part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance that ruled India.

He maintained that both the VCK and the PMK would work together for the cause of the Eelam Tamils, within and outside the Tamil Nadu state legislative assembly.



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