India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said it is “in Sri Lanka’s own interest that the expectations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace and dignity” are met, as he concluded a visit to the island last week.
In Jaishankar’s address to a joint press conference with Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, he went on to state “that applies equally to commitments made by the Sri Lankan government on meaningful devolution, including the 13th Amendment”.
Jaishankar’s comments come after increasing demands from senior Ministers in Rajapaksa’s administration and members of the Buddhist clergy to abolish the provincial council system and 13th Amendment.
Last month, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara, stated that the Indo-Lanka accord, which gave way to the 13th Amendment, was “no longer valid”, whilst Sri Lanka’s foreign secretary Admiral Jayanath Colombage, vowed that police and land powers would “never” be devolved, a key tenet of the 13th Amendment.
Jaishankar went on to state that “the progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka will surely be advanced as a consequence [of addressing Tamils’ expectations]”.
During his visit to the island, he met with both Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa and parliamentarians from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA).
Discussions with Rajapaksa reportedly included the East Container Terminal of the Colombo Port, which has faced stiff resistance from Sinhala trade unions, and claims that India would give Sri Lanka priority when exporting a coronavirus vaccine.
A TNA delegation, led by leader R Sampanthan, also met with Jaishankar in Colombo.