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Saturday, November 28, 2020

Lankan envoy’s Sinhala remarks trigger a storm

An apparent statement by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner,Prasad Kariyawasam,that the majority Sinhalese,too,were of Indian descent

Written by Gopu Mohan | Chennai | March 28, 2013 12:39:39 am

An apparent statement by the Sri Lankan High Commissioner,Prasad Kariyawasam,that the majority Sinhalese,too,were of Indian descent has riled the hardliners among the pro-Lankan Tamil parties,who sought action,including slapping sedition charges and deportation.

Through this statement that was sent to all across Indian media through Colombo Media Centre on March 19,the official was attempting to “instigate the people of north India,Orissa and Bengal that Sinhalese in that Island have their origins in those states”,charged MDMK general secretary Vaiko in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding the high commissioner’s arrest under sedition charges.

“The high commissioner had stated that 75 per cent of the Sinhala race originated from Kalinga,in ancient Orissa and only 12 per cent of Tamil population in Sri Lanka share ethnic links with Tamil Nadu. It is a fact that due to the invasion of Europeans,the Tamils lost their freedom and they were subjugated under Sinhala rule once the British left,” said Vaiko in the letter on Wednesday,arguing that Tamils were the original inhabitants of the island.

Sri Lanka has been trying to split the states in India on pro- and anti-Tamil lines by commenting on Sinhala race’s Indian roots,criticised PMK leader S Ramadoss. “This is why President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited two north Indian states — MP and Bihar — in the last six months and met the chief ministers there. The letter is a continuation of this effort,” he alleged.

The Vienna Convention of 1961 mandates envoys of not involving in internal matters of the host nation,which the Sri Lankan high commissioner broke through these comments. The official should be severely reprimanded and deported back to Lanka,demanded Ramadoss.

According to reports,a few days before he made the statement,High Commissioner Kariyawasam had visited Orissa to “explore and revive ancient links between Lanka and Orissa”.

He met Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik where he highlighted the trade,cultural and Buddhist connections that once existed between Lanka and what was then known as Kalinga,and the potential to revive it.

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