India cautions protesters on Lanka

Indian Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan said any decision against Sri Lanka should be made after considering the far-reaching consequences on the strategic relationship between the two countries and the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils, The Hindu newspaper reported.“I appreciate the feelings of those who have organised demonstrations against providing training to Sri Lankan Army officials [in Indian military facilities]. But you should not forget that they have the option of approaching China if India turned its back on them. It will not augur well for India, a close neighbour of Sri Lanka,” Natchiappan told The-Hindu. He argued that war conditions in Sri Lanka had an adverse impact in the past on the growth of industry in the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu despite existence of adequate infrastructure. He said a peaceful neighbourhood was necessary for industrial development.“Fear prevented industrialists from making investments in the southern districts. There is a harbour in Tuticorin, an international airport in Madurai and another airport in Tuticorin. Still we cannot attract investment,” he said. Natchiappan said India already had problems along the borders it shared with Pakistan and it could not afford to create a situation that would disturb peace along the Palk Straits. The Minister said any decision against Sri Lankan government would have a direct bearing on the Tamils in Sri Lanka and Tamil refugees living in India.