Aug 01, Chennai: The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu J. Jayalalithaa has said that although the Sri Lanka Defense and Urban Development Ministry "surreptitiously removed" an offensive op-ed article published on its website, the "damage has already been done."
The article titled "How meaningful are Jayalalitha's love letters to Narendra Modi?" and written by Shenali Waduge was published in the Defense Ministry website yesterday with a visual of Jayalalithaa with a pen and the Indian PM in a heart-shaped thought bubble.
The Chief Minister in a letter to the Indian PM today said the visual rendering is highly objectionable as it depicted both the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in a "very trivialized, derogatory and disrespectful manner."
Pointing out that the objectionable visual was not part of the original article itself but was deliberately and mischievously put up on the official website itself, the Chief Minister said the visual image is clearly aimed at denigrating the elected leaders of India, particularly a 66 year old woman political leader of many years standing.
"These are affronts to India which cannot be ignored or lightly brushed aside," the Chief Minister stressed.
"This reprehensible visual itself clearly indicates that these are not necessarily the views of the author but of the Sri Lankan Government itself."
The article is written about the Chief Minister's letters to the Indian PM whenever the Sri Lankan Navy arrests Indian fishermen when they are poaching in Sri Lankan waters near the Katchatheevu Island, which was ceded to Sri Lanka by India in 1974 following a Supreme Court decision.
The Chief Minister and her state government refuse to recognize Sri Lanka's sovereignty over the island or the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) drawn after the transfer and call the waters around it "traditional waters".
Waduge's article argues that the CM cannot change the legality of the International Maritime Borders drawn up in 1974 and 1976 following the bilateral agreement between the two countries.
Jayalalithaa said the article contained certain unwarranted and unfounded comments about the very valid and serious issues that she has consistently been raising relating to the frequent arrests of Indian fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan Navy when they are fishing in "their traditional waters."
She said the article insinuates that she demands the release of the fishermen and their boats taken into Sri Lankan custody because "some of these may belong to her or her supporters".
The article also tries to "mischievously create fissures" within India's federal polity where none exists through statements like "Obviously she is attempting to dent the popularity of the Indian Prime Minister…….," Jayalalithaa noted in her letter.
"This blatant attempt to ridicule, and trivialize the untiring efforts made by a democratically elected leader to resolve an important livelihood issue of the fishermen of Tamil Nadu by hosting a highly objectionable article prominently on the official website of an important Ministry of a neighbouring country, is completely unacceptable," the CM wrote.
The CM requested the Indian PM to immediately direct the Ministry of External Affairs to summon the Sri Lankan High Commissioner and clearly express India's displeasure at the manner in which the article was hosted on the official website of the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Government of Sri Lanka, and seek an unconditional apology from the Government of Sri Lanka.