Protests in the Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu came down sharply on the Indian government for its continued military co-operation with the Sri Lankan military, which is accused not just of the genocide of the Eezham Tamils but also of murdering hundreds of Tamil Nadu fishermen. The protests erupted in the wake of the news that two SL military officers were to be given training at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Nilgiris. While this opposition led to the transfer of the officers to another facility in Andhra Pradesh followed quickly by the GoSL’s recall of the officers, Congress minister E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan defended India’s military relationship with Sri Lanka, playing the China card.
“I appreciate the feelings of those who have organised demonstrations against providing training to Sri Lankan Army officials [in Indian military facilities]. But you should not forget that they have the option of approaching China if India turned its back on them. It will not augur well for India, a close neighbour of Sri Lanka,” Mr Natchiappan told The-Hindu on Monday.
Natchiappan, who defends co-operating with the SL military that is under fire from human rights activists world over for offences including war crimes, systematic rape, ethnic cleansing and genocide, was a few weeks back trying to market the 13th Amendment to Tamil politicians from the island.
According to a Times of India report on Tuesday, at least two towns in the Nilgiris had shut down on Monday as a mark of protest. The TOI further reported that on Sunday, over 200 activists of Naam Tamizhar Katchi had protested near the venue of the Wellington staff college, tearing down Sri Lankan and Congress flags.
While India offered to shift the venue of training to another military facility in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the Sri Lankan government turned down the offer and recalled its officers.
A protest meeting condemning Indo-Sri Lankan military relationship organized by the MDMK was held at Nilgiris on Tuesday. The event saw the participation of leaders and activists from several political parties and movements.
Speaking at the event, MDMK leader Vaiko said that “the Centre had hurt the sentiments of crores of Tamils across the globe” and that if these military exercises continued “it would have serious and far-reaching consequences and impact the sovereignty of the country”, the PTI reported on Tuesday.