Sri Lanka's new regime: The immediate concerns before India

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A change of regime in Sri Lanka with Mahinda Rajapaksa conceding defeat to his former friend Maithripala Sirisena. How crucial are these results in the Indian perspective? Extremely important and as several parties in Tamil Nadu celebrated the loss of Rajapaksa, let us take a look at what to expect in the years to come.

While devolution of Tamil areas is one major concern, there are other issues pertaining to security. The docking of Chinese submarines, smuggling from Sri Lanka and until recently the birth of the ISI to target South India are all major concerns for India.

Also read: Sri Lanka poll: Dissecting Rajapaksa's loss

Concerns for India after SL polls

Will Sirisena deliver?

India has been insisting that there should be devolution of powers to Tamil areas. The implementation of the 13th amendment to their constitution which would ensure the devolution of powers to the provinces was promised by Rajapaksa but he failed to deliver.

India would hope that the new regime would consider this since ethnic issues have been a subject of debate between India and Sri Lanka. India would expect the new regime in Sri Lanka to take a balanced approach to the subject.

Sri Lanka as a neighbour is extremely important to India and for ties to progress a solution to the ethnic problem will have to be found. India would want a solution on the ethnic issue but also would ensure that the balance within Sri Lanka is not shaken up in the interest of foreign relations between the two nations.

The Chinese connection

India has expressed utmost displeasure with the manner in which Sri Lanka and the Chinese have been cozying up. The docking of the Chinese submarines with nuclear capabities last year has been a major cause of concern for India.

India feels that the entry of the Chinese into Sri Lanka would pose a major security risk for India. There have been instances of Chinese arms being smuggled into India through the Southern seas.

Sri Lanka has often assured that it has in mind the security concerns of India, the new regime would need to do more to convince India about that. Sri Lanka has argued that it is situated in a location which has made it a communication hub in the Indian ocean and this would mean that the Chinese will use the Indian ocean more frequently.

The ISI hub

Very recently the arrest of a Sri Lankan national in Chennai raised alarm bells about the presence of the ISI in Sri Lanka. The operative Sakir Hussain narrated to the police about the ISI module being based in the Pakistan's High Commission in Colombo and was being run by their consular officer, Amir Zubair Siddiqui.

India looked at this development from multiple angles. One was that the ISI had come too close to India from the South with an intention of targeting the Southern states of India.

Secondly the concern became even more because India is aware that Pakstan had infact supplied defence equipment to Sri Lanka post 2009. These factors are important and India will have to work with the new regime on bettering its defence relations.

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