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Peoples of 'Historical Waters' and Indian Security

by TamilNet, November 4, 2007

"The elementary lesson of security is that it doesn't primarily depend on arms. It is in the hearts of the people.

"A major part of the coastline of Indo-Sri Lanka waters is a Tamil territory, both in India as well as in Sri Lanka.

Due to improved understanding and collaboration between the navies of India and Sri Lanka, and enhanced sea monitoring power, India need not to worry about repercussions of the ongoing war in Sri Lanka, said L. V. Sarath Babu, the Chief Staff Officer, Eastern Command of the Indian Navy to media men at Rameasvaram on Friday. The night of the same day, 97 Tamil Nadu fishermen, were arrested by the Sri Lanka Navy off the waters of Jaffna. This is an illustrative example of the wide gap between the security concerns of the two governments and the aspirations of the peoples they claim to represent.


According to defence analysts of India, the monitoring power of the radar station at Rameswaram is said to be of the range of 1700 km. Reports say India helped Sri Lanka to install radar stations in Anuradhapura, Vavuniyaa and Trincomalee apart from several other places in the south of Sri Lanka.

India is independently capable of satellite surveillance.

There are speculations that intelligence related to sea traffic is being supplied to Sri Lanka by India and this played a crucial role in the recent sinking of vessels alleged to be carrying arms for the LTTE. So far, the government of India or the defence analysts of India have not denied this extra collaboration.

It is said that many such activities take place on the basis of “secret protocols” agreed between India and Sri Lanka in recent times. At present it is mostly operative at the officers level. Monthly meetings and briefings take place regularly between the officers of the two countries.

Another noticeable development, in addition to the supply of improved marine and satellite intelligence, is the Indian interest in training Sri Lankan armed forces. Analysts say India has increased the number of officer-trainees from 900 which was agreed upon earlier, to 2,250 in the current year, despite public opposition in Tamil Nadu for any military assistance to Sri Lanka. An extraordinary interest in training the Sri Lankan armed forces is also shown by the U.K. and the U.S.A.

In the last few years, a number of small naval detachments have either been newly opened or strengthened in sensitive coastal villages of Tamil Nadu between Naakappaddinam and Raameasvaram. The focus of their orientation is the Tamil region of northern Sri Lanka.

Yet, the concern of Indian officials is that they are still unable to completely control sea contacts between Northern Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. The concerns loom large with the marked increase of public support in Tamil Nadu for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause and the LTTE, in recent times.

A Chennai based journalist who was covering maritime news for a long time reflected on the situation in the following words:

"The elementary lesson of security is that it doesn't primarily depend on arms. It is in the hearts of the people.

"A major part of the coastline of Indo-Sri Lanka waters is a Tamil territory, both in India as well as in Sri Lanka.

"The historical waters (Palk Bay) claimed by India and Sri Lanka is also an exclusive historical waters of the Tamils. The coastal folk of India and Sri Lanka, including the Sinhala coastal folk who were once Tamils, are the closest cousins on either side of the Indo Sri Lanka waters, who were always closely interacting, whatever colonial power had come and gone.

"Defence collaboration, secret protocols and advanced technology are all meaningless when governments act against the hearts of peoples," the journalist who didn't want to be named, told TamilNet.

Indo-Lanka boundary in Historic Waters
Maritime boundary in the Historical Waters of the Palk Bay between India and Sri Lanka. [Courtesy: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, 1975]



Previous articles:
03.11.07  Sri Lanka Navy arrests 97 Tamil Nadu fishermen