Relations between India and Sri Lanka have been very complicated for the last three decades. First the intervention of the Indian Army in pacifying the ongoing civil war in Sri Lanka and then the attacks on India by extremists affiliated to the LTTE. There has been tension between the two countries on many issues. Now Lakhan Lal Malhotra, who worked as India’s High Commissioner in Sri Lanka in 1989, has made some big revelations. In a conversation with a magazine, he has told that the then President of Sri Lanka Ranasinghe Premadasa had threatened him that if India did not withdraw its army soon, he would not back down from the war.
According to the former high commissioner, when he went to meet Premadasa at his office, he was given a clear warning. He told- “Premadasa told me that if India does not withdraw its forces, they will announce on the official channel that Sri Lankan security forces have taken responsibility for the eastern and northern part of the country. And if the Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) protest after this, it can lead to animosity and create a situation of war.”
When the Sri Lankan President could not even speak in anger: According to Mehrotra, he had also made it clear that he had come to talk to the President about peace. But if they want war then it is also possible. The former High Commissioner told that Premadasa was calmed by his serious talk. Because maybe they didn’t expect this answer. After this, the President could not speak for a few minutes.
The former Indian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka told that the then Foreign Minister Ranjan Wijeratne asked him to remain calm. However, Mehrotra gave him a clear reply saying that India has always stood with peace, but the Sri Lankan President is only thinking of war on this. In such a situation, we should take a different route and be ready to face the consequences.
Never lost track of Premadasa with India regarding the 1987 agreement: Let us tell you that a bilateral agreement was signed between India and Sri Lanka in 1987, which was done with the consent of the then Sri Lankan President JR Jayawardene and Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi. Under this, the Indian Army was deployed there to end Tamil separatism in Northeast Sri Lanka.
However, R Premadasa who became the President of Sri Lanka in late 1988 never accepted the agreement. He also took an oath to send back the Indian Army. After starting talks with the Tamil Tigers in June 1989, he publicly advised India to withdraw the army. There was also a lot of tension at the diplomatic level regarding this. But India withdrew its army in March 1990.