India urged to ‘sternly warn’ Sri Lanka over plans to abolish power sharing

By Siva Parameswaran

A leading Tamil Political party with significant numbers in the Indian Parliament has strongly condemned the current Sri Lankan government’s moves to do away with the limited power sharing.

In a strongly worded letter, leader of the Dravida Munnethra Kazhagam (DMK) party in parliament, T.R.Baalu, has appealed to the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi issue a ‘stern warning to Sri Lanka’ and asking the neighbour to give up the decision to abolish the provincial councils established more than 3 decades ago.

JDS has a copy of the letter.

The Sri Lankan minister in charge of Provincial councils Rear Admiral (retd) Sarath Weerasekara has gone on record publicly stating he is opposed to the provincial council system ‘imposed on Sri Lanka by India’.

The provincial councils were established under the Indo-Lanka accord signed in July 1987 between the then Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lanka’s former accord president J R Jawayardane. Though primarily aimed at devolution of powers in the North and East, it later led to the formation of provincial governments in other provinces within Sri Lanka.

Devolution was a mirage

However, the real devolution of power didn’t happen since Colombo is very adamant and reluctant to devolve land and police powers which formed the core of the devolution package. Even the limited powers devolved to the provincial councils were taken away from time to time.

T.R Baalu added if the proposal is carried forward it would put a question mark on the Indo-Lanka accord. He also asked “why and how Indian government could be a mere spectator”, if Sri Lanka abolished the Provincial councils despite assuring the Tamil people devolution of more powers, even beyond what was contemplated under the 13th amendment which was a consequence of the accord.

Indian PM should make it clear to Rajapaksas that if the proposals are implemented, it would adversely affect the ties between both the nations he points out in his letter.

“We cannot remain silent when issues affecting Tamil people are forcefully taken forward in Sri Lanka” Mr Baalu told JDS.

Mr Baalu in his letter has accused the Sri Lankan Government of making relentless efforts to reduce the Tamil population in ‘Eelam areas’ into second class citizens.

India’s silence questioned

“Ever since the Rajapaksa brothers have assumed power in Sri Lanka, as a daily affair, they are taking actions to deprive the rights of Eelam Tamils and destroy the dignity and honour of Tamil speaking peoples there”.

His letter to the Indian PM expresses anguish that Indian Government is unmindful of this by maintaining stoic silence. It further says the Sri Lankan Government proposal to abolish the provincial councils would tantamount to rejection of the accord with India and is a reflection of the arrogance and high handedness.

The letter also express the disappointment of the DMK with the ruling BJP that neither the PM, External affairs Minister nor the National Security Advisor who recently visited Sri Lanka has expressed any views in this regard.


“Government of India, under your leadership has been saying that Sri Lankan Tamil people will be ensured of powers even beyond the 13th amendment. But, now when the provinces available with the Tamils are sought to be abolished, we are unable to understand why India is simply a mute spectator” asks Mr Baalu in his letter to Mr Modi.

Mr Baalu has warned the decision to abolish the Provincial system would cause serious setback in Indo-Sri Lankan relations.

The Tamil political parties too have from time to time said that they are not happy with the provisions of the 13the Amendment and any devolution should go beyond it. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) leader R Sampanthan has earlier said, “13 A is a rotting dead body and we shall never touch it”.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

  • JDS is the Sri Lankan partner organization of international media rights group, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The launching of this website was made possible by the EU’s European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), of which Reporters Without Borders is a beneficiary.