Beyond the 13A Recipe for disaster

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In 1987, the Indian Peace Keeping Force was deployed in Sri Lanka after signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord In 1987, the Indian Peace Keeping Force was deployed in Sri Lanka after signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Sri Lanka as expected ended up as yet another occasion of adding to the condescending words of a few leaders advising how Sri Lanka should be ruled and structured. One can recollect the arrogance of David Cameron, John Kerry, Harper and Erik Sloheim who sang the same song assuming that Sri Lanka and her people are mere puppets to order them to dance according to their wishes.

Prime Minister Modi’s highly questionable advice to Sri Lanka was to go beyond 13th Amendment. The Sri Lankans have naturally to assume that Modi’s prescription to Sri Lanka is to adopt a Federal constitution or to become a quasi-federal state to quench the thirst of the Tamil racist leaders and arrive at ‘a peaceful settlement’ to the so, called, but non-existent Tamil problem.

The Indian Prime Minister’s push towards beyond 13th Amendment is untimely to say the least and unfortunate that the dictate has omitted to take into the consideration the expectations and the legitimate interests of the Sinhala majority and some sections of the minorities who wish to live in a unitary state in this small island of 25,000 sq. miles.

The fact that the Indian Prime Minister conveyed his desire for Sri Lanka to go beyond 13th Amendment in a public statement compels one to hark back to Rajiv Gandhi’s callous and arrogant policy platform which backfired in the 80s.Without reappraisal of the utterly destructive method of foisting Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement on Sri Lanka and having forgotten how the LTTE terrorists were trained in India, for the Prime Minister Modi to advocate to Sri Lanka to go beyond 13th Amendment can be summed up as a pompous pontificating to a smaller state to settle into to a pre-decided path constructed and determined by India.

One wonders whether Modi’s intention was to take us back to another Indian creation way back in 1985. Late Crown Counsel and the Constitution Lawyer H.L. De Silva in rejecting the Federalism or quasi-Federalist models commented, “The so, called ‘Thimpu Principles’ enunciated as representing the essence of a common demand by all the Tamil parties at the negotiation between the Government of Sri Lanka and representatives of several Tamil groups conducted in 1985 under the sponsorship of India were a re-affirmation of the view that all States should correspond to the notion that every nation, in the exercise of its right to self–determination should have to right to independent statehood. It is rejection of multi-national State and multi-culturalism, a federal constitution, far from a check on secession, could be the precursor to the establishment of an independent state by a dissatisfied unit of the new federation”. We are of the view that going beyond 13th Amendment will pave way for the dismemberment of Sri Lanka which existed as a single State for over 2500 years unlike India.

Even under 13th Amendment, the land and the police powers were not devolved to the Provincial Councils as per the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement as such an arrangement would lead to problems in the area of national development and national security. We are of the view that the land and the police powers should be exercised by the central government to prevent incremental growth of separatism and political mobilization towards militant separatism.

We appeal to the Sri Lankan Government and the Opposition political leaders and the members of the civil society to do everything to protect the unitary Sri Lanka and to make provisions for the minorities to share power at the Center rather than providing a platform for ethno-centric manifestations.
Ranjith Soysa

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