| Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 1987
The Indo Sri Lanka Agreement was signed by Indian Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lanka President, J.R.Jayawardene on 29 July 1987. It was an agreement that was entered into behind the backs of the Tamil resistance movement. Even the Tamil United Liberation Front which had severed its links with the LTTE and which had lost popular support was constrained to write to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 28 July 1987 saying that it was ‘totally opposed to the holding of any referendum in any part of the country’. The Exchange of Letters that preceded the signing of the Agreement declared that “Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests” and that the ” work of restoring and operating the Trincomalee Oil Tank will be undertaken as a joint operation between India and Sri Lanka.” [see also Velupillai Pirabakaran, Leader of LTTE on the Agreement in Suthumalai Speech, 4 August 1987] TULF Letter to Rajiv Gandhi, 28 July 1987
Exchange of Letters between Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene, 29 July 1987 preceding Signing of Agreement
How India’s Security Concerns came to be Addressed in the Exchange of Letters – Jyotindra Nath Dixit, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo
Text of Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 29 July 1987
Annexure to Indo Sri Lanka Agreement
Rajiv Gandhi hit by Sri Lanka Naval Rating at Farewell Ceremony, 30 July 1987
What went wrong in July 1987, S.Sivanayagam, July 1998
| Letter sent by the Parliamentary Tamil United Liberation Front
to Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on 28 July 1987Dear Prime Minister, On the eve of your departure to Colombo to finalise an agreement between India and Sri Lanka relating to the Tamil problem, we wish to convey to you, and the Government and people of India, the deep gratitude of the Tamil people for your continuing concern and help to them. We also wish to assure you of the support of the TULF in your present efforts to find a solution to our problem, put an end to our suffering and enable us to live in safety and security with freedom, honour and dignity. We wish to bring to your notice certain matters arising from the draft agreement on which we have explained our reservations to the Foreign Secretary. We are totally opposed to the holding of any referendum in any part of the country and certainly not after one year as proposed. The peace sought to be achieved will be shattered and there will be conflict and turmoil again. Besides, the Tamil people of the Eastern Province, more than half of whom are destabilized and driven out of their homes and villages, will hardly be able to return to their villages, rebuild their homes and settle down to normal life. Not merely the army camps set up after May 1987, but all the camps and mini-camps established all over the Northern and Eastern Provinces after 1983 should be dismantled. The Sinhala home guards who have been armed by the government should be disarmed immediately and the STF commandos removed from the Eastern Province. The use of the Sinhala Police and Army for enforcement of law and order in the Northern and Eastern Provinces will not ensure the safety and security of the Tamil people. Effective Indian involvement in ensuring the safety and security of the Tamil people in the Northern and Eastern Provinces is imperative in the transition period. The draft agreement provides for further negotiations regarding some aspects of devolution. Tamil rights in relation to the Central Government should also be discussed. We would request the participation of Indian constitutional experts along with us in the negotiations.The amnesty contemplated should be extended to cover all persons charged or convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act or Emergency Regulations. The Prevention of Terrorism Act should be repealed. Victims of violence by the military and paramilitary forces, as well as during the ethnic riots, should be adequately compensated and fully rehabilitated. Voters’ lists certified after 1982 have been prepared without Tamil participation and after thousands of Tamil, voters were displaced. Any election held should be on the registers certified in 1982. The administration of the Port of Trincomalee and the extent of the land to be utilized for activities related to the port should be discussed and finalised. We thank you again, With our kind regards, Yours Sincerely, TULF
|Jyotindra Nath Dixit, Indian High Commissioner in Colombo on How India’s Security Concerns came to be Addressed in the Exchange of Letters:“…I mentioned to the (Sri Lanka) President that while the Agreement and its Annexure would cover all aspects related to the ethnic problem, India’s concerns about India-Sri Lanka bilateral relations and India’s political and security concerns had not been taken care of. The President was told that the Prime Minister of India also, would, like him (the President), be taking enormous risks in signing such an Agreement in terms of Indian public opinion and, therefore, there must be some formal understanding between Sri Lanka and India on India’s concerns which should be embodied in another Agreement or exchange of letters. When Jayewardene asked me to be specific about India’s concerns, I said that Sri Lanka should give assurances to India on the following points:1. Reduction and phasing out of the foreign military and intelligence personnel in Sri Lanka from the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa and so on.2. Sri Lanka should reorganise its foreign and defence policies and reduce its involvement with the USA, Pakistan, China, Israel and South Africa.3. Sri Lanka should give some assurances to India that its seaports and airports would not be utilised by foreign powers which were antagonistic towards India or which affected India’s security interest negatively.4. Sri Lanka should fulfil the assurances which it gave in 1985 that India would be given an opportunity to maintain the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms and that Sri Lanka would prevent foreign broadcasting stations like the Voice of America from being utilised for military purposes by countries like the United States, West Germany, etc. Jayewardene said that these were excessive demands being made at the last moment. He was, however, reminded politely that these concerns of India were specifically mentioned to him between April 29 and May 5, 1985, by Minister Chidambaram. I recalled that I had repeated these concerns and requests to Jayewardene on June 9, 1985. Minister of State Natwar Singh did the same on November 24, and again between December 17 and 19, 1986. I pointed out that India’s co-operation with Sri Lanka to solve the ethnic problem was predicated on Sri Lanka giving positive responses on these important concerns of India. The President consulted Minister Gamini Dissanayake and Finance Minister Romaine de Mel over the phone on these points raised by me. He then directed me to proceed immediately to the offices of the two Ministers to discuss details of how this particular issue should be dealt with. At the end of the meeting with these Ministers, it was agreed that the points raised could be covered by means of a letter that should be carefully drafted. I said I would get a Draft Letter covering these points prepared when I proceeded to Delhi for consultations on the proposed Agreement and bring it back for approval….” *Assignment Colombo by J N Dixit, Konarak Publishers, 1998, Rs 400. Copies of the book may be obtained from Mr K P R Nair, Konarak Publishers, A-149, Main Vikas Marg, New Delhi 110 001. [*indicates link to Amazon.com online bookshop]
| Exchange of letters between the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India July 29, 1987Excellency, Please refer to your letter dated the 29th of July 1987, which reads as follows:-Excellency, Conscious of the friendship between our two countries stretching over two millennia and more, and recognising the importance of nurturing this traditional friendship, it is imperative that both Sri Lanka and India reaffirm the decision not to allow our respective territories to be used for activities prejudicial to each other’s unity, territorial integrity and security.2. In this spirit, you had, during the course of our discussion, agreed to meet some of India’s concerns as follows:-I) Your Excellency and I will reach an early understanding about the relevance and employment of foreign military and intelligence personnel with a view to ensuring that such presences will not prejudice Indo Sri Lanka relations.II) Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India’s interests.III) The work of restoring and operating the Trincomalee Oil Tank will be undertaken as a joint operation between India and Sri Lanka.IV) Sri Lanka’s agreement with foreign broadcasting organisations will be reviewed to ensure that any facilities set up by them in Sri Lanka are used solely as public broadcasting facilities and not for any military or intelligence purposes.3. In the same spirit, India will:I) Deport all Sri Lankan citizens who are found to be engaging in terrorist activities or advocating separatism or secessionism.II) Provide training facilities and military supplies for Sri Lanka security services.4. India and Sri Lanka have agreed to set up a joint consultative mechanism to continuously review matters of common concern in the light of the objectives stated in para 1 and specifically to monitor the implementation of other matters contained in this letter.5. Kindly confirm, Excellency, that the above correctly sets out the Agreement reached between us. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
Yours sincerely, sgd Rajiv GandhiHis Excellency,
Mr J.R. Jayawardene,
President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,
Colombo. This is to confirm that the above correctly sets out the understanding reached between us. Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.sgd J.R.Jayawardene PresidentHis Excellency, Mr Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India, New Delhi.
| Text of AgreementThe President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mr J.R. Jayawardene, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of India, His Excellency Mr Rajiv Gandhi, having met at Colombo on July 29, 1987.Attaching utmost importance to nurturing, intensifying and strengthening the traditional friendship of Sri Lanka and India, and acknowledging the imperative need of resolving the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, and the consequent violence, and for the safety, well being, and prosperity of people belonging to all communities in Sri Lanka.Have this day entered into the following agreement to fulfil this objective?IN THIS CONTEXT,1.1 Desiring to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka:1.2 Acknowledging that Sri Lanka is a “multi-ethnic and a multi-lingual plural society” consisting, inter alia, of Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims (Moors) and Burghers:1.3 Recognising that each ethnic group has a distinct cultural and linguistic identity which has to be carefully nurtured:1.4 Also recognising that the Northern and the Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups:1.5 Conscious of the necessity of strengthening the forces contributing to the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, and preserving its character as a multi ethnic, multi lingual and multi religious plural society in which all citizens can live in equality, safety and harmony, and prosper and fulfil their aspirations:2. Resolve that2.1 Since the government of Sri Lanka proposes to permit adjoining provinces to join to form one administrative unit and also by a referendum to separate as may be permitted to the Northern and Eastern Provinces as outlined below:2.2 During the period, which shall be considered an interim period (i.e. from the date of the elections to the Provincial Council, as specified in para 2.B to the date of the referendum as specified in para 2.3) the Northern and Eastern Provinces as now constituted, will form one administrative unit, having one elected Provincial Council. Such a unit will have one Governor, one Chief Minister and one Board of Ministers.2.3 There will be a referendum on or before 31st of December 1988 to enable the people of the Eastern Province to decide whether A) The Eastern Province should remain linked with the Northern Province as one administrative unit, and continue to be governed together with the Northern Province as specified in para 2.2 or: B) The Eastern Province should constitute a separate administrative unit having its own distinct Provincial Council with a separate Governor, Chief Minister and Board of MinistersThe President may, at his discretion, decide to postpone such a referendum.2.4 All persons who have been displaced due to ethnic violence or other reasons, will have the right to vote in such a referendum. Necessary conditions to enable them to return to areas from where they were displaced will be created.2.5 The referendum when held will be monitored by a committee headed by the Chief Justice, a member appointed by the President, nominated by the Government of Sri Lanka, and a member appointed by the President, nominated by the representatives of the Tamil speaking people of the Eastern Province.2.6 A simple majority will be sufficient to determine the result of the referendum.2.7 Meetings and other forms of propaganda, permissible within the laws of the country, will be allowed before the referendum.2.8 Elections to Provincial Councils will be held within the next three months, in any event before the 31st December 1987. Indian observers will be invited for elections to the Provincial Council in the North and East.2.9 The Emergency will be lifted in the Eastern and Northern Provinces by August 15, 1987. A cessation of hostilities will come into effect all over the Island within 48 hours of the signing of this Agreement. All arms presently held by Militant Groups will be surrendered in accordance with an agreed procedure to authorities to be designated by the government of Sri Lanka.Consequent to the cessation of hostilities and the surrender of arms by Militant Groups, the Army and other security personnel will be confined to barracks in camps as of 25th May 1987. The process of surrendering of arms and the confining of security personnel and moving back to barracks shall be completed within 72 hours of the cessation of hostilities coming into effect.2.10 The government of Sri Lanka will utilise for the purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of security in the Northern and Eastern Provinces the same organisations and mechanisms of government as are used in the rest of the country.
2.11 The President of Sri Lanka will grant a general amnesty to political and other prisoners now held in custody under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and other Emergency Laws, and to Combatants, as well as to those persons accused, charged and/or convicted under these Laws. The government of Sri Lanka will make special efforts to rehabilitate militant youth with a view to bringing them back into the mainstream of national life. India will co-operate in the process.
2.12 The government of Sri Lanka will accept and abide by the above provisions and expect all others to do likewise.2.13 If the framework for the resolutions is accepted, the government of Sri Lanka will implement the relevant proposals forthwith.
2.14 The government of India will underwrite and guarantee the resolutions and co-operate in the implementation of these proposals.
2.15 These proposals are conditional to an acceptance of the proposals negotiated from 4.5.1986 to 19.12.86. Residual matters not finalised during the above negotiations shall be resolved between India and Sri Lanka within a period of six weeks of signing this Agreement. These proposals are also conditional to the government of India co-operating directly with the government of Sri Lanka in their implementation.
2.16 These proposals are also conditional to the government of India taking the following actions if any Militant Groups operating in Sri Lanka do not accept this frameworK of proposals for a settlement, namely,
A) India will take all necessary steps to ensure that Indian territory is not used for activities prejudicial to the unity, integrity and security of Sri Lanka.
B) The Indian Navy/Coastguard will co-operate with the Sri Lanka Navy in preventing Tamil Militant activities from affecting Sri Lanka.
(C) In the event that the government of Sri Lanka requests the Government of India to afford military assistance to implement these proposals the Government of India will co-operate by giving to the government of Sri Lanka such military assistance as and when requested.
D) The government of India will expedite repatriation from Sri Lanka of Indian citizens to India who is resident here, concurrently with the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees from Tamil Nadu.
E) The government of Sri Lanka and India will co-operate in ensuring the physical security and safety of all communities inhabiting the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
2.17 The government of Sri Lanka shall ensure free, full and fair participation of voters from all communities in the Northern and Eastern Provinces in electoral processes envisaged in this Agreement. The government of India will extend full co-operation to the government of Sri Lanka in this regard.
2.18 The official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. Tamil and English will also be official languages.3. This Agreement and the Annexures thereto shall come into force upon signature witness whereof we have set our hands and seals hereunto. Done in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on this the twenty-ninth day of July of the year one thousand nine hundred and eighty-seven, in duplicate, both texts being equally authentic. Junius Richard Jayawardene, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of the Republic of India
| Annexure to the Indo – Sri Lanka Agreement
1. His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that the referendum mentioned in paragraph 2 and its sub-paragraphs of the Agreement will be observed by a representative of the Election Commission of India to be invited by His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka.
2. Similarly, both Heads of Government agree that the elections to the Provincial Council mentioned in paragraph
2.8 of the Agreement will be observed and all paramilitary personnel will be withdrawn from the Eastern and Northern Provinces with a view to creating conditions conducive to fair elections to the Council.
3. The President, in his discretion, shall absorb such paramilitary forces, which came into being due to the ethnic violence, into the regular security forces of Sri Lanka.
4. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that the Tamil Militants shall surrender their arms to authorities agreed upon to be designated by the President of Sri Lanka. The surrender shall take place in the presence of one senior representative each of the Sri Lanka Red Cross and the India Red Cross.
5. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India agree that a Joint Indo Sri Lankan Observer Group consisting of qualified representatives of the government of Sri Lanka and the government of India would monitor the cessation of hostilities from 31 July 1987.6. The President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India also agree that in terms of paragraph 2.14 and paragraph 2.16 (C) of the Agreement, an Indian Peace Keeping Contingent may be invited by the President of Sri Lanka to guarantee and enforce the cessation of hostilities, if so required.
|Rajiv Gandhi hit by Sri Lanka Naval Rating at Farewell Ceremony, 30 July 1987 [see also Botched JVP Hit on Rajiv Gandhi: Revisited 19 Years Later, Sachi Sri Kantha, 30 July 2006 – “It was one of a kind of bizarre demonstration (or, a mafia-grade botched hit a more appropriate phrase, based on the botcher’s intention) which was executed on a visiting political leader to Sri Lanka. The prospective assassin was not a public Sri Lankan citizen, but a low ranking member of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Of all the places on this globe, such an act could have been enacted only in Colombo.
Before July 30, 1987, nothing of this sort had been recorded in 20th-century history. Even during the 19 years which had lapsed since then, such a bizarre assassination attempt has not been repeated anywhere in this globe. I refer to the botched JVP hit on the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Colombo. And the victim himself had described his bizarre experience in Colombo with the categorical affirmative (What is all this nonsensical speculation. Of course, I was hit.) within an hour of the incident. This was in contrast to the statements made by the embarrassed host, President Jayewardene (Rajiv tripped a little and slightly lost his balance)”… more ]
| What went wrong in July 1987, S.Sivanayagam, Editorial Comment in Hot Springs, July 1998
Now that the biggest nonevent of the month in Colombo – the 10th SAARC summit – has ended with neither glory nor ignominy, with the sniffer dogs back in their kennels, and the military censor back to his scissors, another July too had come and gone. To many this time, what readily came to mind was the black July of 1983, but curiously the memory of another July, that of 1987, escaped their minds, despite the ironic coincidence of Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee arriving in Colombo almost the same date on which one of his predecessors in office had come with a “peace agreement” 11 years earlier, only to escape a murderous swipe at him by a Sinhala naval rating. Wisely, the present Prime Minister came only with a baby tusker elephant which he gifted to President Chandrika Bandaranaike at a solemn ceremony. Elephants they say, do not forget, but among oppressed people, too memories die hard. Who can ever forget the catastrophic consequences of that one single signing ceremony in Colombo on the 29th of July 1987
The so-called Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Agreement of that year was flawed on several counts. Firstly, it was not a “peace agreement”, because it led to war.
Secondly, it was not a government-to-government agreement, because half the members of Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet did not know the contents of the agreement, and half the members of Jayewardene’s cabinet, like Premadasa and Lalith Athulathmudali, were even openly opposed to it. So, in effect, it was only a Rajiv Gandhi-Jayawardene agreement.
Thirdly, the Indian Peace Keeping Force that was sent in pursuance of the agreement did not keep the peace but waged a war.
Fourthly, peace agreements are signed between two combatants, but here one party to the conflict was not called upon to sign. How far removed from reality the late Indian Prime Minister was could be seen from his thinking process. 72 hours after the signing of the agreement Mr Rajiv Gandhi characterised it as a major landmark in the four decades of India’s freedom!
Rajiv Gandhi at the Madras Marina beach rostrum, along with M.G.R. and Sonia Gandhi. He told a Marina beach audience in Madras: “I am told that no such agreement has been signed by any country in the world, at least in this century! It does not have a parallel in the world!”. Absolutely. No other government in the world could have conceived such stupidity. (Readers are requested to please rise up and observe two minutes of silence in memory of the agreement).
Mrs Indira Gandhi was a Prime Minister who learnt politics at her father’s feet, a woman with a clear grasp of issues and the courage of her convictions. Son Rajiv unfortunately, brought from the cockpit of a plane to the serious affairs of a large country’s governance, had to depend almost totally on his advisers. Equally unfortunately he selected the wrong kind of advisers, who apparently told him that the job of the IPKF was to disarm “2000 boys”!THE HINDU which has a habit of over-stretching its journalistic duty, reported as early as July 1988, nine months after the IPKF took on the LTTE, that 2,000 Tigers had been killed in IPKF operations.
So that cancelled the “2,000 boys” that Mr Gandhi had in mind. Ten years later today, the Colombo Press also gives fancy statistics about Tiger casualties, provided by military spokesmen. There is that frequently quoted and now worn thin saying “Truth is the first casualty in war”, but why should readers be called upon to put up with a permanent enthronement of falsehood. Sometimes, one wonders whether they are tigers after all, or are they rabbits to keep on breeding over a decade in such large numbers?