New Delhi, Sep 6 () : India is crafty and deceitful enough to maintain its defence ties with Sri Lanka by planning to supply the island nation with naval warships to guard its maritime boundaries.
Goa Shipyard Limited, a Goa-based defence PSU would be in-charge of building the two Offshore Patrol Vessels, which are expected to be delivered to Sri Lanka by 2017-18, according to sources.
This development comes at a time when Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa and other political parties in Tamil Nadu have been pressuring the UPA government to withdraw defence ties with its neighbour.
Sri Lanka’s all-powerful Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa had remarked recently that India and Sri Lanka should retain “meaningful and close” bilateral ties despite occasional hiccups, including fishermen issue.
Year 2012 was when Indian Army Chief General Bikram Singh flew to Colombo where he was scheduled to discuss many unfulfilled aspects of Indo-Sri Lanka Defence Cooperation.
A formal Defence Cooperation Agreement (DCA), in discussion between India and Sri Lanka has not taken final shape since 2003, though most parts of the agreement have been agreed upon by both the countries. Domestic pressure, especially from parties in Tamil Nadu had prevented both the nations to sign on the dotted line.
Despite objections by Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalithaa, training of Lankan defence personnel in parts of India and conduct of joint exercises have been reported by the media.
India remains the number one destination for training of Sri Lankan officers, according to NDTV reports. India and Sri Lanka have been engaged in mutual defence cooperation in all fronts.
NDTV reported that in 2011-12, 820 Sri Lankans underwent training in Indian Military Establishments and in the year 2012, 870 officers underwent training in India, which included two senior officers who did the prestigious National Defence College course in New Delhi.
Four Indian officers also do three different courses in Sri Lanka since 2010.
New Delhi and Colombo also started a formal Annual Defence Dialogue (ADD) initiated by Lanka and India in February 2012.
2011 saw the initiation of the Army to Army Staff Talks between the two countries. Held again in 2012, these talks between the two armies actually finalize the training and exchange visit schedules.
In February 2009, India also helped Sri Lanka open its Military Intelligence School in Kandy. A 10-member Indian Army Training Team (IATT) is authorized to be stationed in Sri Lanka till December 2013.
Though India consistently maintains its policy about not supplying offensive military hardware to Sri Lanka, it has furtively decided to extend a 100 million dollars credit line to Colombo for purchase of non-lethal weapons.
Since 2000, India has supplied a considerable number of radars and military equipment to Sri Lanka.
Ever since the bloody civil war with the tiger rebels came to a close in May 2009, New Delhi and Colombo have always attempted to maintain their defence ties, albeit stealthily.
This growing military coöperation between India and Sri Lanka comes amidst concerns of Lanka’s increased military coöperation with China and Pakistan.