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CONSPIRACY BEHIND ‘NORTH–EAST’ MERGER

23 September 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Merger of Northern and Eastern Provinces was one of the key proposals incorporated in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of July 29, 1987, which was thrust upon us by India as a result of intense lobbying by pro-separatist groups.  It is noteworthy to recall that President J. R. Jayewardene in one of the first public statements made after signing the Accord declared that he would personally canvass against the merger, at the referendum in the Eastern Province which was proposed to be held to get the approval of voters of that province.  Initially the merger was to be a temporary one, valid for a period of one year from that temporary merger came into force.  Before the expiry of this one year period,  a referendum was to be held in the Eastern province to seek approval of the merger by the voters of that province.  At the referendum, if the voters  accepted the proposal by a vote of over 50% in favour, the merger was to be made permanent.  If not the merger was to lapse.  
For whatever reason the referendum was never held but in accordance with a provision in the Accord, President Jayewardene as well as all Presidents who succeeded him extended the period of validity of the temporary merger by one year at a time, each passing year.  This process went on for nineteen long years until  the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka on October 16, 2006 ruled that the merger was “Unconstitutional, Illegal and invalid” and as a result, the two provinces were de-merged.

To understand why the separatists are so keen in merging Northern and Eastern provinces, we have only to look into population statistics of the two provinces.  In the table below are the population statistics of the two provinces as determined by the 1981 census.  These are quoted as it was the last census carried out before the Indo Sri-Lanka Accord. 

From above statistics (Please refer to the chart), it is seen that in 1981 no community commanded an absolute majority (over 50%) in the Eastern Province.  However if the Northern and Eastern Provinces are merged, Tamils with 68.65% will emerge as the community which commands an absolute majority in the merged province whereas the percentage of Sinhalese will drop down from 25.00% to 13.33% and the Muslims will drop down from 32.26% to 17.57%.  This crafty move will thus enable the Tamil politicians to control the resources of the Eastern province in the manner they desire, at the expense of the other communities, apart from giving a boost to separatist tendencies.

Here, the primary concern should not be the fact that the Tamil community, by this merger will achieve an absolute majority in the merged province.  What non-Tamils should be concerned with is the majority of Tamil politicians’ hostile attitude towards Sinhalese and sometimes even Muslims, settling down in Northern and Eastern provinces. The irony of this intolerance is that more than 50% of Tamils currently reside outside these two provinces whereas Sinhalese or Muslim politicians, quite rightly have no objection to this situation. 

  It should be noted that the Northern province by itself is not an attractive entity to establish a separate State, due to its small land area and limited resources.  However if it is merged with the Eastern province which has the second highest land area of all provinces and nearly 80% of the eastern coastline of Sri Lanka, the merged province will become an economically very attractive entity with a vast pool of agricultural land, mineral, marine, off-shore and militarily strategic resources.  More importantly for Separatists it would provide a land link from the Tamil-dominated North to the hill country where most Tamils of Indian origin reside, making these areas too targets for expansion of the ethnically pure Tamil Racist Regime they dream of establishing.  Mind you, that according to the 1981 census, there were 876,518 Tamils living in the tea/rubber plantation areas of the Central, Uva and Sabaragamuwa provinces as against 410,156 Tamils in the Eastern province. 
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