Feature Article

Indian former foreign secretary boycotted in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 15 November 2011, 00:25 GMT]
Students and faculty of the University of Jaffna boycotted an address by India’s former foreign secretary (2004-2006) Shyam Saran, who visited Jaffna on Monday at the invitation of India-Sri Lanka Foundation and the University of Jaffna. As a result, the audience for Mr. Saran’s address at the Kailasapathy Auditirium of the university turned out to be mainly the SL military personnel occupying Jaffna. Speaking on India’s neighbourhood policy, Saran denounced international solutions to the question of Tamils in the island and advised them to seek ‘domestic’ solutions through talks. Shyam Saran was one of those met by Norway’s team that evaluated the failed peace process. The stand that India will sit on international solutions but insist on its own involvement alone was evident in an earlier statement of recently retired foreign secretary Nirupama Menon Rao too.

Shyam Saran in Jaffna
The occupying SLA had to rush its personnel to fill the seats of Kailasapathy auditorium as students boycotted the event

Shyam Saran in Jaffna
Ambassador Shyan Saran addressing the audience
Attended by SL colonial governor for the occupied north, Maj. Gen. Chandrasri and the head of the Indian diplomatic mission (Deputy High Commission) in Jaffna, V. Mahalingam, Shyam Saran in his address said that the relations between India and Sri Lanka have come closer more than ever, thanks to the SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

India has currently taken up the projects to develop the KKS harbour and the Palaali Airport. In the next stage, India should take up the project to bridge Rameswaram and Thalai-Mannaar to link India and the north of the island, Shyam Saran said.

The picture he was painting was that the North could play an important role and could be benefited by the close ties developing between India and Sri Lanka through the North of the island.

A postgraduate in Economics, Mr. Shyam Saran is currently a Director of the Bangalore-based corporate Wipro Ltd, specialised in information technology services.

Belonging to 1970 batch of Indian Foreign Service, Mr. Saran after retirement as foreign secretary in 2006 served as Indian Prime Minister’s special envoy on nuclear issues and was also involved in National Security Advisory work until 2010.

He was tipped to become the National Security Advisor (NSA) after MK Narayan’s retirement but the choice of the Establishment went in favour of his junior, Shiv Shankar Menon.

Meanwhile, answering questions at a panel discussion in Oslo on Friday during the release of Norway’s evaluation report on the failed peace process, former US Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage said that in the current context of the India, China and the US rivalries, Sri Lanka has come to the fore and it is a “front centre.”

The US earlier was preoccupied with other issues after 9/11 and was concerned little about understanding Sri Lanka, but now there is much interest, he said.

Eezham Tamils in the island and in the diaspora are increasingly enraged at India’s stand neither helping an international solution nor coming out with its own in stopping genocide and in appropriately addressing the chronic national question in the island.

The war itself was fought internationally, Eezham Tamil political circles point out.

Considering the unfolding realities, Eezham Tamils are sceptical about trusting India alone for any solutions, especially after its complicity with Sri Lanka in coursing an internationally abetted war towards genocide.

Both in Tamil Nadu and among Eezham Tamils, a tendency considering the Establishments in New Delhi and Colombo as common enemies escalates in recent times.

The way the former Indian foreign secretary’s address took place in the University of Jaffna was symbolic of the military approach upheld by the New Delhi and Colombo Establishments that is now widely viewed as “Asian model of conflict resolution,” political observers in Jaffna said.

Shyam Saran in Jaffna


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