Friday, 13 May 2022

Why did India not retaliate against Sri Lanka in 1971?

 


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Why did India not retaliate against Sri Lanka in 1971?

India was upset and irritated at Sri Lanka’s decision to allow Pakistan aircrafts to land , refuel and take off for east Pakistan from Sri Lanka. Though India wanted to respond and tell Sri Lanka in no uncertain terms that they are supporting Pakistan in the war, India couldn’t do much for various reasons. And thought it fit to deal with Sri Lanka later after the war.

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Some of India’s smaller neighbouring countries at some stage or other have gone against India or Indian interests, and to later realize their folly. Some of the leaders of that era misconstrued India’s friendship and support, and tried to act smart and assert themselves against India, not realizing their size compared India’s size and influence and capacity to put them back in their place.

Most of these small countries had been instigated or coaxed either by China or Pakistan or some other country not happy with India’s influence or progress. One such incident happened in 1971. During the Bangladesh liberation war, Sri Lanka showed its true colour by tilting towards Pakistan, though it had good relations with India too. Instead of being neutral, it found itself in a tight spot. It couldn’t refuse Pakistan’s request for stop over and refueling facility for Pakistani planes. Pakistan planes with supplies, ammunition and weapons to then East Pakistan would land and refuel at Sri Lanka airports on their flight to East Pakistan, though Sri Lanka very well knew the war was going on and it was to be used against the people of East Pakistan and Indian forces. Maybe Pakistan was helping Sri Lanka in their fight with LTTE. This tilt towards Pakistan later proved costly for Sri Lanka as events proved later on with Muslim extremists creating problems in Sri Lanka.

India was upset and irritated at Sri Lanka’s decision to allow Pakistan aircrafts to land , refuel and take off for east Pakistan from Sri Lanka. Though India wanted to respond and tell Sri Lanka in no uncertain terms that they are supporting Pakistan in the war, India couldn’t do much for various reasons. And thought it fit to deal with Sri Lanka later after the war.

India was fighting on two fronts, East and West Pakistan. China was watching for an opportunity, but with Indian forces on high alert on the Indo-China border, China didn’t dare to get involved. With the then US and Britain government’s openly supporting Pakistan, India didn’t want to complicate matters by opening another front with Sri Lanka. And India could deal with them later.

However, later Sri Lanka too realized its mistake and regretted its policy decision. Then on they have been on India’s side. But in between their political leaders were influenced by China and opened their country to the Chinese, which will prove very costly for Sri Lanka. And now they are regretting and paying a heavy price. There is chaos and uprising by the people against the Sri Lanka government. Its economy has collapsed and is in the doldrums. Once again they are looking towards India for help and support in these difficult times when their country is on the brink of total collapse. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksha had to resign in the midst of Sri Lanka crisis, economic collapse, rising prices and violence.

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa has defied calls to resign, pledging instead to form a new government after violent clashes this week left eight people dead in an escalation of a month long crisis over food and fuel shortages. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is refusing to step down, and the opposition has declined his offers of a unity government without constitutional change that would reduce the powers of the presidency.

India is providing help to sustain. In fact India had warned Sri Lanka of the consequences of opening up their country to Chinese investment. But they realized it too late with the whole country in a mess and prices of all commodities shooting up. People are protesting on the streets. And India has come forward to help them to survive this crash.

From time to time, because of the over ambitious political leaders and elected governments, some of the small neighbouring countries have been flirting with China and Pakistan. With their support and encouragement, try to assert themselves not realizing the size, influence and power of India worldwide. Ultimately they turn towards India when in trouble.

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