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The Rajapaksa duo , Gotabaya  and Mahinda ( on November 18& 21) have sworn as President and PM of Sri Lanka, riding on the high tide of ethnic Sinhala nationalist sentiment and quite arguably the 10% Muslims in Srilanka have gone into a huddle. The Muslim phobic Bodu Bala Sena had made a rallying point for Rajapaksas as its chief GA Gnanasara had made passionate campaign in a run up to the polls, “if the (Buddhists) monks could get the support of even 7,000 temples in Sri Lanka for one political front during the elections, and each temple can garner 10,000 votes for that front, there could be a Sinhala government,” (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-sri-lanka-buddhist/hardline-sri-lanka-monk-calls-for-buddhist-sinhalese-government-idUSKCN1U2078). Muslims are increasingly under attack from Buddhists particularly after the Easter bombings which had left more than 250 Tamil and Sinhalese Christians dead (https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/25/sri-lankas-christians-and-muslims-werent-enemies/ ). Gotabaya aka Gota and also ‘the terminator’ has 49 Sinhalese, two Tamils and no Muslim in his 51 member cabinet( https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-sri-lanka-relations-gotabaya-rajapaksa-s-jaishankar-china-6141712/). Tamils and Muslims had voted against the Rajapaksa siblings.  Tamils roughly make around 11.2% of Sri Lanka and have had an acrimonious relationship with Buddhists as well as Muslims. LTTE was the dreaded Tamil terrorist organisation until it was wiped out by President Mahinda in 2005. Gota is also a former defense-secretary.   It may be known that Mahinda, in the immediate aftermath of Easter blast,  had  made it clear that Sri Lanka does not need India support to tackle terrorism (https://www.news18.com/news/world/no-need-for-india-to-send-nsg-commandos-sri-lanka-can-tackle-terror-on-its-own-mahinda-rajapaksa-2120069.html), sensing the terse Sri Lankan establishment India’s foreign minister Jai Shankar did not waste a minute and landed in Sri Lanka ( November 20) to invite Gota for his first visit to India, rather than to China, which made him visit New Delhi for three days (on Nov 29). Shankar is said to have told Gota about India’s concern towards Tamilians who are expected to be treated with equality justice peace and dignity in the process of reconciliation and it is expected that India might appoint a Tamil ambassador to Colombo too (https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/india-sri-lanka-relations-gotabaya-rajapaksa-s-jaishankar-china-6141712/).  Mahinda, it may be known had personally accused India’s top spy agency to have engineered his shock defeat in 2015 (https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/3038303/sri-lankas-tilt-towards-china-expected-be-low-key-new-president).

The virtual immediacy in India’s effort was to thwart any such move which might embolden China yet again in the Indian ocean as Sri Lanka had during the Presidency of Mahinda given its Hambantota Port to China and the 15,000 acres of land for 99 years on lease (https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/11/19/sri-lanka-new-strongman-president-gotabaya-rajapaksa-election/) which had led to considerable consternation in New Delhi. It may be mentioned that the deal was almost made standstill by outgoing PM Wikremasinghe but the present dispensation wants the deal be restored (https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/south-asia/article/3039881/sri-lankas-new-government-wants-undo-hambantota-port-lease).  Narendra Modi, is surely driven by the China sentiment, as he had himself made his first visit, after becoming second time PM, to Maldives, as a part of quid pro quo to China involvement there, and here too, he announced a $50 million Line of Credit for security and counter-terrorism and another $ 400 million for development and infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka. Modi would not miss the opportunity to explain that the counter-terror fund had come to further strengthen mutual co-operation against terrorism after making as obvious reference to Easter bombings which was discussed in detail (https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/pm-narendra-modi-likely-first-guest-new-sri-lankan-government-1623846-2019-11-30) Gota would allay India fears on China by saying that Sri Lanka would not allow third country to affect Sri Lanka -India ties.

However, it is quite unknown in India that the Easter bombings were in fact a manufacture of Sri Lankan now President. Why and how it unfolded explains the murky inside of terrorism bogey and its functioning and execution which ultimately ends up with the only one resultant; majoritarianism-as its only fait-accompli. An interview of the official media spokesman of Gota published on September 22, 2019 will send the proverbial shivers down the spine as to how the rise of Gota was scripted to the hilt. It throws light that Zahran, the chief architect of Easter tragedy was created and financed by Gota! (https://www.lankanewsweb.net/67-general-news/48980-Gotabaya-officially-admits-he-financed-Zahran-Hashim) A timely and sensational book by Rajan Hoole Sri Lanka’s Easter Tragedy-When The Deep State Gets Out Of Its Depth shows that the ultimate target in Sri Lanka is to demonise Muslims to the extent to snatch them of their citizenship rights and turn them into stateless citizens “as the government did  in 1948 to estate workers of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. (colombotelegraph.com/index.php/easter-sunday-massacre-calculated-conspiracy-against-muslims/)

There are quite visible signs of Indo-China growing competitiveness (read chasm) around us, as after the Sino-India Doklam standoff (2017, Bhutan) which lasted 73 days there is another Doklam brewing-up now in Arunachal Pradesh (AP) as BJP MP Tapir Gao from AP East spilled the beans in parliament (November 19, available on Youtube) saying that if he would not raise the issue future generations of India would never forgive him. He informed that up to 50 to 60 kms of land in AP has been occupied by China and there is not even a whimper! If not a bang on it. He also cited that China officially objected to defense minister Rajnath Singh visiting AP ( on November 14) and similar objections had been raised when President RN Kovind, PM Modi or Home Minister Amit Shah visited AP. “ There is no voice from our parliament or our government addressing to these objections,” he lamented. He warned that if there would be another Doklam happening it would happen in AP and that day should not be let-in.

Meanwhile, in Nepal, another wresting ground building to Indo-China competitiveness, there are reports of China President Xi-Jingpin effigies being burnt over allegations of land encroachment on Nov 12 ( https://www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/nepal-protestors-burn-xi-jinping-s-effigy-in-protest-against-chinese-encroachment/story-Vd1E7qsLVG4ebJEUKj8HtM.html) which will certainly give the much desired edge to India as India has also started ‘two-plus-two’ security talks with Japan foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi on his visit to India ( November 30) with an eye on the growing assertiveness and military buildup of China in Indo-Pacific (Japan and India hold first ‘two-plus-two’ security talks, with eye on Chinese assertiveness | The Japan Times)

India too is passionately pursuing to tame the dragon.

The writer is a lawyer, journalist and former UP State Information Commissioner. 


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