India is worried about the current political situation in Sri Lanka, where clashes between people belonging to two different religious practices have triggered a fresh tension.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs is of the opinion that the character of Buddhism in the neighbouring island nation has changed slowly. According to a senior ministry official, the growing popularity of various organisations, like ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ – a Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organisation based in Colombo, has influenced the Sri Lankan people with their ‘hard-line nationalist’ sentiment…….may be somewhat akin to the action by the Buddhists against the Rohingyas in Myanmar. On the other hand, some foreign radical Muslim organisations constantly provoke the peace-loving Muslim community (10% of Sri Lanka’s total population). As a result, Sri Lanka is all set to face a lingering crisis, believes India.
So far, the attack on minority Muslim community in Sri Lanka has no impact on India. However, any long-term crisis in a neighbouring country will pose a serious threat to India’s security. Moreover, the communal clashes badly affected the central Sri Lankan city of Kandy, where about one million persons of Indian origin live. Kandy is also a popular tourist destination. So, the External Affairs Ministry has asked the Indian High Commission in Kandy to monitor the situation there.
India was disturbed because of the close ties between China and Sri Lanka. China has not only boosted trade ties with the Island nation, but also mordernised their ports, assisted in developing the infrastructure and supplied them with military equipment. Indian defence experts believe China may offer financial and other helps to minority Muslims in Sri Lanka and use them to serve its own interests. After defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009, then President Mahinda Rajapakse tried hard to espouse the Sinhalese nationalism. The victory in the war against Tamil Tigers helped the president create such an atmosphere that encouraged the majority Sinhalese community to attack minority Tamils and Muslims.
According to diplomatic sources, some West Asian nations are influencing the Muslims in Sri Lanka by providing money and ideological support to counter the Sinhalese aggression. Possibly, this has prompted India not to interfere in Sri Lanka’s ‘internal’ affairs and to cautiously monitor the development there.
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