Following a visit by Indian diplomat, Gopal Beglay, to the North-East of Sri Lanka, the Indian High Commission has awarded Sri Lanka’s Navy 22 million rupees worth of training aid, despite human rights concerns.
The Indian High Commission was reported to have provided aid to the Naval & Maritime Academy (NMA), Trincomalee, on 14 March 2021. The Chief of India's Naval Staff, Karambir Singh has pledged to strengthen Sri Lanka's naval capacity.
This decision comes in advance of the Tamil Nadu elections on 6 April till the 2 May, where the ruling BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) party is running 17 candidates.
Meeting Tamil demands
During his visit, from the 11 March to 13 March, Beglay spoke with Tamil leaders on meeting the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil community as well as meaningful devolution. The meetings also discussed supporting development projects in the North-East.
Parliamentarians&people’s representatives belonging 2 different political parties met High Commissioner.HC reiterated #India's consistent support 4 development&meaningful devolution in a united #SriLanka 2 promote #progress,#peace,#equality,#justice and #Respect for all citizens. pic.twitter.com/9ZJIZJs10F
— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) March 13, 2021
Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has visited Tamil Nadu vowing that his administration would stand up for Tamil rights and highlighting on-going projects. India’s External Minister, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar has similarly maintained that concern for Tamils in Sri Lanka should be driven by a “genuine feeling” rather than something raised just around elections in Tamil Nadu.
Interesting remarks by Indian EAM @DrSJaishankar that the concern for #SriLanka's Tamils should be a "genuine feeling" rather than something raised just around elections in Tamil Nadu pic.twitter.com/q3gpvoWz8s
— Meera Srinivasan (@Meerasrini) March 14, 2021
He has previously raised concerns over the alleged murder of four Tamil Nadu fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy.
Death of Tamil Fishermen
Whilst India’s government has voiced these concerns, this grant of assistance to the Sri Lankan Navy comes as Sri Lanka’s Navy has increased land grab efforts in Pungudutivu earlier this year and there have been repeated reports of intimidation and violence from Navy officials.
According to All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader M. Thambidurai, 245 Tamil Nadu fishermen have been killed in Sri Lanka.