Thirteen minus not thirteen plus

| by Nalin de Silva

( January 19, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The thirteenth amendment was forced on us by India following the infamous Indo Sri Lanka Accord, without considering the historical, cultural and geographical background and the Sinhala opinion. India for a long time had acted without listening to the Sinhala majority, without even taking into consideration the importance of Sri Lanka in respect of security of the subcontinent. Delhi listened only to Tamil Nadu, which had ulterior motives and hence to the Tamil Vellala leaders until non Vellala Prabhakaran appeared in the picture. As far as India was concerned there was repression of the Tamils by the Sinhala people but never wanted to find out the truth of the allegations made by the Vellala leaders. India should have at least learnt a lesson at the Thimpu talks that they cannot impose their views completely even on J R Jayewardene. The delegation sent to Thimpu by the government rejected the so-called Thimpu Proposals but India failed to realize that there was a Sinhala opinion against devolution of power to the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country, based on historical cultural and geographical facts. India wanted the Sinhalas to recognize that those two provinces were the historical habitats of the Tamils; it turned a blind eye to the fact that the two provinces had been creations of the English (British Raj) and that final demarcation of the nine provinces was carried out only in 1889 three years after Ananda Vidyalaya was established. The term historical habitats which really meant Tamil homeland as far as the Vellalas and Prabhakaran were concerned, was never acceptable to the Sinhala people.
When the Sinhala people were not prepared to accept the proposals of India to solve the so called ethnic problem India applied force on J R Jayewardene government with what is known as Parippu or Dhal diplomacy. JRJ, who had been ready to support the Americans and the English even against India, would have been surprised to find that he did not receive any support from his allies in the west when India dropped parippu, threatening to attack Sri Lanka if the government did not obey India.
The English elevated the Vellalas to a hierarchical position in the absence of a Brahmin class in Sri Lanka probably with Shri Arumugam Navalar providing the necessary “theoretical” background later, and used the English speaking Vellalas as a force against the Sinhalas, especially the Sinhala Buddhists.
In 1987 India forced JRJ to sign the Indo Sri Lanka Accord. He may not have been the greatest patriot but he would not have signed the document if he was free to make a choice. The thirteenth amendment was not acceptable to the majority of the Sinhalas, except to the NGO and Marxist pundits of many varieties and a few others in the Christian Churches of various denominations (the Marxists most probably would not call them Sinhalas but working class intellectuals). However, India used its powers and the Bill was passed in the Parliament with the support of the predecessors of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The Opposition of the Sinhalas to the accord was manifested in the uprisings by them, which were made use of by the JVP that constituted mainly of Sinhala Buddhist youth in spite of their Marxist rhetoric. The JVP was crushed without India or the westerners having a moment to think of their human rights.
Although the thirteenth amendment is now law of the country, the majority of the Sinhala people never agreed with that, and even Chandrika Kumaratunga the pink socialist with her French connections could not implement it due to opposition of the Sinhalas. It is mainly the non implementation of the thirteenth amendment that prolonged the survival of the LTTE as in spite of their lip service to eradicate terrorism the west and India gave their tacit support to the LTTE in order to crush the Sinhala opinion. Had the Sri Lankan government implemented the thirteenth amendment which has been drafted thinking of Indian historical conditions with dynastic regimes throughout, and not of those of Sri Lanka where we had an Eksesath Rajya (a form of unitary state) from the time of King Pandukabhaya, it is very likely that Prabhakaran would have gone to Nandikadal much earlier, though Tamil racism would have survived with the support of the west. However, the Sinhalas were not prepared to devolve power in order to satisfy the Vellalas, the Indians and the west and finally it was left to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to defeat the LTTE though the west opposed it. The President, it appears had been able to convince the Indian leaders that he was determined to crush the LTTE whatever opposition he may have to face. The west that could not save Prabhakaran even at the last moment is opposed to the President and they are now looking for so-called evidence to punish both Messers Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gothabaya Rajapaksa for the crime of defeating terrorism in Sri Lanka.
If India or any other country thinks that the Sinhala people opposed to the thirteenth amendment would agree to a so called thirteen plus to satisfy the Vellala leadership of the TNA then it is only wishful thinking. The Sinhalas will never agree to devolving police powers and land distribution powers to the Provincial Councils and they would make the government to abolish the thirteenth amendment, if not for the problems that the government has to face. The Armed forces sacrificed their lives mainly against the thirteenth amendment and the question of going beyond that does not arise. The question of the thirteenth amendment was solved at “war” and militarily that legislation has been thrown into Nandikadal. What the government should have done immediately after the defeat of Prabahkaran was to bring in legislature to abolish the thirteenth amendment. It is nothing but hilarious in a way for people to talk of going beyond a legislature that has been defeated at “war”. After all “war” is nothing but politics and Cameron is now saying that there would not be any talks on Falklands. Would Churchill have agreed to discuss with Nazi supporters after the so called Second World War. Would Shri Nehru have agreed to talk on Goa after the war. Wars are not outside politics and what has been decided at war can be reversed through war. The west is trying to do that by encouraging and giving support to the LTTE supporters in the west and the TNA leaders and there are signs that the west wants another “war”, which would be a threat to India as well.
The Sinhala people realize the problems of the government and would not agitate for the abolition of the thirteenth amendment at present. However they will oppose devolution of police and land powers to the Provincial councils and definitely to a so called thirteen plus. What they could finally agree with is a thirteen minus and if the west or anybody else thinks that they could ignore the majority opinion then they have not learnt any lessons.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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