India would never, ever consider helping (Sri Lanka) Tamils directly after former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. If it does so then it would be with the concurrence and acceptance of the Sri Lankan government, said India’s Bharathiya Janata Party (BJP) top-runger Dr. Subramanian Swamy.
This was in response to a question whether India would provide any assistance directly in the event the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) wins at the Northern Provincial Council election and forms an administration.
Dr. Subramanian Swamy who’s Janatha Party merged with BJP in August this year ahead of the 2014 Indian general elections, is in Sri Lanka to attend the Defence Seminar 2013 organized by the Sri Lankan Army under the theme ‘Post Conflict Sri Lanka: Challenges and Regional Stability’ from 3 to 5 September in Colombo.
When Adaderana’s Venura Fernando met him for an exclusive interview on Wednesday, Dr. Swamy, in response to another question also said that if there is a friendly Indian government where India stands up with Sri Lanka, votes with it at the United Nations Human Rights Council and supports the island openly, then Sri Lanka too would respond equally.
The transcript of the exclusive interview:
Q: Sometime back you had suggested that ex-servicemen be settled in the Kashmir Valley following the Mumbai bomb attacks. How would you see it if Sri Lanka settles ex-servicemen in the North and East?
A: Well, no one has driven the Sinhalese from the North and East, you see? In the case of Kashmir, the terrorist had driven away the Hindus from the valley, 500,000 of them. Therefore, it became necessary since it had disturbed the religious composition of the State. The Hindus had to be made to go back. But we can’t send those poor refugees because they would be butchered. Therefore, I suggested to send 500,000 or one lakh or even one million ex-servicemen Hindus and make them settle in Srinagar.
The North and East (in Sri Lanka) is not comparable. However, there is no bar on the Sinhalese going and settling in the North and East because this is a part of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans can travel anywhere within the country.
Q: Without siding with the United States, isn’t it better for India to be friendly with other countries in the region and form a strong regional block?
A: I agree. India must now think of an Asian Block and we should also learn to work with China because there are parts of South Asia where China has not got a reach, in the Indian Ocean among other things. So I think we have to define our dealings with the western countries in matters of strategic thinking. We can have good relationships with them but that should not mean we should be their camp followers.
Q: There is going to be an election in the North. If the Tamil National Alliance forms a Provincial Council will India help directly or through the Sri Lankan government?
A: India will never, ever – after Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination – ever consider helping (Sri Lankan) Tamils directly. It will be with the concurrence and acceptance of the Sri Lankan government. We believe in one Sri Lanka. We will never agree to a separate Eelam or a separate Tamil homeland.
Q: There is a huge issue in the North regarding fishermen. Why cannot India stop its fishermen using equipment that destroy marine resources within Sri Lanka maritime boundaries?
A: Well, the poor fishermen have no fish in the Indian side of the waters. All the high quality prawns, fish etc are in the Sri Lankan side. I think we have to sit down and work out some way because their livelihood is also in question. So we have to find an alternative wayby which the Indian fishermen can fish.
Q: If you (the BJP) form a government, what would be the arrangements to solve this problem?
A: I will sit down with the Sri Lankan government and say, this fish of yours we can have perhaps on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and you can have on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays etc. We can work it out. There is enough fish in both sides. And we van also ask our fishermen to look for alternate employment, because this is not an employment with a future. So these have to be worked out if we have friendly relationships with Sri Lanka.
Q: Do you think it could be a reality against this scenario?
A: Yes, yes. Not against this scenario, but if you have a friendly (Indian) government where India stands up with Sri Lanka, votes with Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Council and so on and supports Sri Lanka openly, then yes, Sri Lanka might be generous.
Q: Do you think there is no cooperation now?
A: At the moment, because of the DMK influence on the UPA government there, they not able to. They can’t even decide whether they are coming to the Commonwealth meeting or not. They went and voted against Sri Lanka in the United Nations Human Rights Council also.-Derana