Gopal Baglay, the Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, made a trip to the North-East, the traditional Tamil homeland, ahead of a crucial vote on Sri Lanka at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council Session (UNHRC) in Geneva.
During his visit, Mr. Baglay conferred with parliamentarians of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) in Jaffna on Saturday, 13th March.
The High Commissioner reportedly "reiterated India's consistent support for development & meaningful devolution in a united SriLanka to promote #progress,#peace,#equality,#justice and #Respect for all citizens," according to an official Facebook post.
In his discussions with the High Commissioner, TNPF leader Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam said he urged India to make a significant contribution to ensure accountability for Sri Lanka’s genocide against Tamils. He also emphasised to the High Commissioner that India must encourage an independent international investigation into the crimes perpetrated.
Speaking to the Indian envoy regarding the Indo- Sri Lanka Peace Accords, Ponnambalam said whilst the TNPF respects the Accords, it does not see the 13th Amendment, which grew out of the agreement, as a solution to the crisis.
இந்திய இலங்கை ஒப்பந்தத்தை மதிக்கிறோம். ஆனால் அதன்வழியான 13 ம் திருத்தச்சட்டமூலத்தை தீர்வாக ஏற்க முடியாது .
தமிழர் தேசத்தை அங்கீகரிக்கும் தீர்வை தொடர்ந்தும் வலியுறுத்துவோம்@GGPonnambalam இந்திய தூதுவருடனான சந்திப்பின் பின்னர் 13/03/21
— Friends of Gajen (@friendsofgajen) March 13, 2021
Ponnambalam expressed his party’s opposition to the Sri Lankan government’s move to grant islands outlying the Jaffna peninsula to Chinese energy firms.
“The Tamil nation would always be a protection for India’s security considerations. We are not opposed to India’s interests. We are, therefore, against granting areas in the North-East to powers inimical to India’s interests as tools in the geo-political game.”
On the same day, High Commissioner Baglay met with a delegation of the TNA in Jaffna and discussed vital issues related to the development of the North-East.
TNA’s delegation included current MPs M.A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan, Siddharthan, Siritharan, Charles Nirmalanathan and former MP Mavai Senathirajah.
MP Selvam Adaiklanathan said that TNA spoke to the Indian emissary regarding the Talaimannar - Rameswaram shipping service and that Mr. Baglay assured them that actions to actualise the shipping lane would be expedited.
Baglay also met with the former Chief Minister of the Northern Province and TMK leader C V Wigneswaran.
A couple of days earlier, on Thursday, the High Commissioner laid the foundation stone to the construction of a pilgrims’ residence in the Madu Church, Mannar.
The Indian also laid the foundation to the construction of a residential complex, with a 300 million rupees grant from India, which is planned to be constructed in a large scale with 144 houses as a multi-floor complex.
Following the ceremony, Mr. Baglay spoke to the press and said development projects form an important component of India-Sri Lanka friendship and “our plans have impacted people’s lives directly.”
“We are maintaining a very close relationship with the Sri Lankan government. In addition to constructing houses, we have also made contributions to the health sector. For instance, we have provided ambulance vehicles (to Sri Lanka).”
Later on, Mr. Baglay offered prayers at the Mannar Thiruketheeswaram temple on the occasion of the Saivite religious festival Sivarathri.
He supervised the carving of granite statues in the temple which is being carried out with grants from the Indian government.
High Commissioner offered prayers at Ramsethu -the connecting bridge between #India & #lka for centuries. He prayed 4 reinforcement of strong bonds between the people of #India & #lka, recalling their millennia-old links & the role of historical structures in creating these links pic.twitter.com/wgltjESBZO
— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) March 11, 2021
The Indian envoy later visited the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in Jaffna and offered prayers.
High Commissioner prayed at famous Nallur Temple, a most revered symbol of #India- #SriLanka people-to-people ties through religion, language, literature, languages, culture and customs. pic.twitter.com/3JRCdpLKyN
— India in Sri Lanka (@IndiainSL) March 12, 2021
As the vote on Sri Lanka is only a week away at the UNHRC, Tamil political parties and people are expecting India to vote against Colombo and in favour of ensuring justice and accountability for the massacre of tens of thousands of Tamils.