SL to continue to train its military personnel in India
Sri Lanka’s powerful Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa, also the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, said his country looks at India in a “much bigger way” than China.
During an interaction with visiting Indian journalists, Rajapaksa admitted that the recent attacks against Sri Lankan citizens in Tamil Nadu has “hurt” their feelings, but said no one in his country had any “hard feelings” for India or its people.
“No. We have never (thought about it) because in our long history since the days when we moved from British shoulders all training (to army personnel) were done in India or in Pakistan,” he said.
The minister was responding to a question whether Sri Lanka was reconsidering the training programme for its military personnel in India and possibly get them trained in countries like China in the wake of protests in Tamil Nadu.
Dwelling on the issue, he said it has been the practice for any new batch to be sent to India for training and that Sri Lanka has no plans to change the tradition.
“There can be various opinions, but we can’t (shift the programme). We are very firm on that and we have confidence (that it will continue). We have not even thought about,” he said when pressed further on whether Sri Lanka would stop sending its personnel to India.
Rajapaksa’s comments assume significance in the wake of almost all political parties in Tamil Nadu coming on a single platform to oppose the training programme to Sri Lankan military personnel in India.
Initially, the parties protested the presence of Sri Lankan personnel in Tamil Nadu, but later widened their demand by asking the Indian Government to scrap the entire programme and send them back home.
However, India has made it clear that the training programme would continue.
On whether Sri Lanka was moving close towards China, he said: “We look India in a much bigger way.”