I was forced into a deal with India, Jayewardene told U.S. envoy
Posted on February 5th, 2017

Amit Baruah Courtesy The Hindu

 Former Sri Lanka President claimed his troops refused to take Jaffna, reveal declassified papers

Sri Lanka was forced into making a deal with India as its own armed forces had twice refused to take Jaffna”, then President J.R. Jayewardene has been quoted as saying in a declassified document, nearly 30 years after the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was deployed in the island nation.

Jayewardene told visiting American diplomat Peter Galbraith that he had twice ordered his troops to take Jaffna — burn the place to the ground” — and they had talked him out of it on grounds of unacceptably high casualties.

A little over 1,200 Indian soldiers died in IPKF operations against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in northern and eastern Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1990. In May 1991, former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who had signed the July 1987 peace deal with Jayewardene, was assassinated by the LTTE.


Rajiv Gandhi and Jayewardene sign the India-Sri Lanka accord in Colombo in July 1987. – Photo: The Hindu Archives  

In response to significant promises of devolution of powers to the Tamil minority and recognition of Tamil as an official language, India agreed to provide military assistance — the IPKF — to ensure peace according to the 1987 Gandhi-Jayewardene accord.

‘A mad fellow’

He [Mr. Jayewardene] made clear that he shared the GOI’S [Government of India’s] implacable hostility toward Prabakaran, calling the LTTE leader ‘a mad fellow’, ” a declassified CIA document said about the February 1988 conversation.

He stressed, though without obvious bitterness, that none of his outside friends would help him, so he had no choice but to make a deal with India,” the CIA document read.

Interestingly, the then President opened up to Mr. Galbraith and said he would hold elections in the Tamil-populated northern and eastern provinces in Sri Lanka. Polls were finally held in November 1988.

Mr. Galbraith also provides an insight into the relations between the IPKF and the Sri Lankan Army (SLA), and the ground situation in the Jaffna peninsula after being flown to the area during his visit.

…the IPKF and the Sri Lankan forces are getting on well together, and…the situation in Jaffna, while still far from normal, is gradually improving,” the American diplomat said in an assessment.

An SLA officer, Brigadier Jayaratne, is quoted in the memo as saying: The IPKF is doing a jolly good job in Jaffna.” He added that the SLA and the Indian troops were getting along famously, like a house on fire.

The document recounted that the Indian officers were warm and responsive” in their interaction with the American visitors, which included Mr. Galbraith and the then U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka.

Behind the scenes

It appears that the Americans also played a behind-the-scenes role in ensuring channels of communication between President Jayewardene and Prime Minister Gandhi, a second declassified CIA document said.

In 1986, Jayewardene held a very negative view of India given that New Delhi had been training Tamil insurgents as he conveyed to visiting U.S. Senator Charles H. Percy. I am a very peaceful man. But India’s role in this [ethnic] matter is reprehensible and the Indians have to be held responsible for their actions.” Percy, who carried a letter from U.S. President Ronald Reagan to Jayewardene, offered to be of assistance in conveying any message” from the Sri Lankan President to Rajiv Gandhi.

Indian ‘intervention’

Interestingly, a third CIA intelligence assessment of September 1986 stated that India was rapidly expanding” its armed forces to intervene” in Sri Lanka.

India, it said, was improving its ability to deploy airborne troops. The paratroopers probably would try to seize an airfield so that reinforcements could be brought in by air. U.S. defence attaché sources report the Army and Air Force practised such an operation late last year [1985] at Trivandrum, with the assault force receiving offshore fire support from Navy ships.” Trivandrum, the memo argued, resembled Colombo in topography.

In the CIA’s assessment, India would intervene in Sri Lanka in two scenarios — one, if the government collapsed and, the other, if Tamil insurgents established a separate State.

In our view, an Indian intervention would most likely come [exactly what happened in 1987], as in 1971 [to deal with Marxist insurgents] following a request from Colombo to help in restoring internal order,” the assessment said.

Interestingly, the CIA believed that the poorly trained Sri Lankan Army would offer token resistance and opposition to a prolonged” Indian intervention would come from Tamil and, possibly, Sinhala insurgents.

In a prescient observation, the memo concluded: If New Delhi continues to oppose a separate Tamil state, we believe Tamil insurgents would resist the Indians as they now do the Sinhalese.”

7 Responses to “I was forced into a deal with India, Jayewardene told U.S. envoy”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    No one has the BACKBONE to SCRAP Endia-Lanka peace deal and 13A.

    IF done FORCIBLY as JR says that is enough ground to SCRAP it.

  2. Nimal Says:

    I think India was just playing with the separatist cause just win the votes of TN and beyond that India was against the breaking up of the island on ethnic lines.
    This was exactly muttered by the late Mahavali Minister Gemini Dissanayeke when we met him at Talawa.
    During that time I met some high ranking Indian military offices who were milling around at the Colombo Airport at the arrival lounge where talkative me asked them if they favoured a separate state for VP’s lot,inunison two of them said that they didn’t sacrifice their men to give them a separate state. I asked them because that Kathadiya was a navy officer hit Rajiv.
    I got the impression that they were determined weaken and kill off the backbone of the tigers.
    One of them said that they were hurt to see Premadasa asking them to get out over the TV to make a cheap political point to the gallery though by mutual consent they were planning to scale down their numbers. Looks like our politicians lack the art of diplomacy, lucky to have got away with humiliating the regional power. In retaliation they did the Parripu drop.Thanks to likes of General Artigalle(then HC in London) and other senior officers, mutual respect was observed. I too saw the way the President addressed that issue, which was not in line with the head of state. India knows by allowing separate states right under her belly would lead to their own country disintegrating.

  3. Kumari Says:

    I agree with what Lorenzo says. However, recently I watched a presentation by Mr Gomin Dayasiri who mentioned that the PC members who are used to PC power and responsibility will not want to loose that power. Therefore, we have to find a solution to these concerns along with the abolition of 13 A.

  4. Randeniyage Says:

    Kumari’s solution is keeping both Rewla and Kenda. This exact solution did not work from 1987 to date.

    I don’t buy the statement “JR could not control the army”. It could be a cunning plan of JR to mislead India and USA.
    I remember very well Wimalaratne and Kobbekaduwa were about to completly finish off LTTE when India invaded us.

    BTW why should be still debate history ?

    Now it is well known India’s role.
    Take action now ! Scrap 13A together with all the corrupt and disgusting PC power !

    Who is the man with backbone to do it ? Gonja ? Mervyn Silva ? If they are ready make them President and PM.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Gonja has NO BRAIN.

    My3 is FAST LOSING patience with this piece of dirt. My3 has told SB (who is the MINISTER of the ministry Gonja is the DEPUTY MINISTER) to control this fool or he will be sacked.

    Once ministerial security is taken away Gonja is as weak as Ganja!!

    Guess what happened to THEVARAPPERUMAL??

    Same thing. Once he was told his minister post will go and security he calmed down. Gonja is same.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    Kumari,

    Endia was NEVER interested in fighting the LTTE. I was living in Jaffna at that time. IPKF even sat together with LTTE terrorists and had meals. IPKF tried hard to get rid of VP but VP got rid of Rajiv GHAND.

    LTTE was used as an EXCUSE to invade SL.

    Endia tried best to CREATE Tamil Elam but failed because SOME LTTE leaders (including VP) didn’t agree to Endian terms. Endia wanted PERUMAL to be the PRIME MINISTER of Tamil Elam but VP rejected it.

    IF TE is created, Tamil Nadu people will LOVE Endia even more!!!

    Modi is determined to create TE. His ONLY fear is SL army will resist it. Once SL army is driven out of the north and Trinco is within Endian control Modi will create TE. When in Jaffna Modi promised to create TE to Tamil leaders provided TE will be a HINDU country. NO Singhala people were allowed to this meeting. Did you notice that AFTER this meeting Kasippu Joseph and other Tamil CATHOLIC bishops REDUCED their support for TE?

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    After Colonisation finished, Cold War politcs have been the bane of life in Lanka.

    INDIA ran with the then Sov Union at that time, whilst JRJ ran with the west.
    Therein lies the rub !
    INDIA tried to crush up Lanka during that time. They used the LTTE as an excuse.

    During JRJ’s time, the trumped up Riots of 1983 also happened. This enabled nearly a Million Tamil people to go west as Refugees. This was the ONLY way the Tamils could enter the western countries. Wonder whose grand plan that was …

    It is odd that today the Tamil numbers in Lanka are the same as before the 1983 Riots. This cannot be through natural increase.
    It is said that every time there are droughts & floods in Tamil Nadu, there are many thousands of Tamils entering Lanka as illegal migrants.

    It is high time Tamil Nadu handled their droughts & floods in a fair manner toward their own people. They have the Engineers and funds to do so.

    This is a topic that ought to be brought out in Lanka Parliament, even at this late stage.

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