The follwoing letter was handed over to the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo on 7th August 98 by the National Movement Against Terrorism in Sri Lanka. The contents of the letter are self explanatory.
NATIONAL MOVEMENT AGAINST TERRORISM 380, Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka. 07th August 1998 Mr. Shiv Shankar Menon. The High Commissioner for India, Indian High Commission, 36-38, Galle Road, Colombo 3. Your Excellency, We are aware that, on the occasion of the recent visit by the Indian Prime Minister to Sri Lanka, the representatives of minority ethnic groups of this country were afforded an opportunity to meet him. Despite a similar request having been made by our organisation, we were not granted this privilege. Your Excellency, and the Government of India which you represent, are probably of the view that the Sri Lankan Government adequately represents the Sinhala people, and that it is thus not necessary to have anything to do with organisations such as ours. Obviously you do not take this view in relation to other ethnic groups, as you consider it necessary to meet people from organisations which claim to represent them. The present Government of Sri Lanka, and the President, were both voted into office with comfortable majorities. This was a reflection of the distaste with which the previous UNP Government was viewed, after a continuous 17-year period of rule which was widely seen as being corrupt and abusive of power. To regard this mandate which the PA Government and the present President received, as being an uncritical endorsement of their policy towards what is commonly referred to as the ethnic problem¹, would be an act of political naivete. Even those in the Government probably realise this, as they find it necessary to link their devolution package¹ to the abolishing of the Executive Presidency, at a future referendum. As you are probably aware, the Executive Presidency is widely unpopular in Sri Lanka, due mainly to the excesses committed by some of its previous incumbents. The expectation of the PA Government is that most people would accept the devolution package as the price that has to be paid for getting rid of the Executive Presidency. In view of the above, it would be wise for the Government of India to realise that there is a substantial proportion of the Sinhala population which is opposed to the policy of appeasement being pursued by the PA Government, with regard to the separatist agenda of the minority ethnic groups. Governments may come and go, sometimes along with the agreements¹ they devise, but it is the people who ultimately decide the course of events. To ignore the majority of the people of a country in the pursuit of some political goal may, at the very least, turn out to be counter-productive. If the Government of India is sincere in its stated aim of playing a constructive role in solving this problem, the first thing it requires to do is to be seen as impartial and even-handed in its attitude towards all those involved. It is this lack of impartiality, as exemplified by the Indian Prime Minister meeting with the minority groups but not with representatives of the Sinhala people, that leads the latter to view India¹s involvement with suspicion. We humbly request you to convey these thoughts to the Prime Minister and the Government of India. Yours faithfully, A. R. Batuvanthudave (for) National Movement Against Terrorism