Delhi denies RAW official's expulsion from Colombo

Delhi denies RAW official's expulsion from Colombo

Delhi denies RAW official's expulsion from Colombo

India on Sunday denied reports that an intelligence official was transferred from Colombo after New Delhi received complaints from the then Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa that the officer was helping the Opposition in the recent election.

 “All information on postings and transfers are in the public domain. The normal tenure of an Indian diplomat in Sri Lanka is three years, and all officials who have been transferred over the past year have completed it. It’s a normal transfer,” said Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesman Syed Akbaruddin in New Delhi.

“Do not read anything into it unless somebody stands up and says ‘yes’. Using unnamed sources is just obscuring the truth. Take my view as the last word,” he said. Asked if the MEA was denying the report, he replied in the affirmative.

Meanwhile, Rajapaksa, voted out of office in the January 8 election, said he did not know all the facts, while the new government in Colombo said it was aware of the reports but could not confirm them.

New Delhi’s denial of the incident comes after a three-hour meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and his Sri Lankan counterpart Mangala Samaraweera.  A sketchy report in Sri Lanka’s “Sunday Times” newspaper on December 28 had said “links with the common Opposition” had cost the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) station chief in Colombo his job.

He was accused of facilitating meetings to encourage several lawmakers, Sirisena among them, to defect from Rajapaksa’s party.

The agent was accused of playing a role in convincing the main leader of the Opposition, Ranil Wickremasinghe, not to contest against Rajapaksa, and stand aside for someone who could be sure of winning, said the officer and a Sri Lankan lawmaker who also maintains close contacts with India.

The agent was also in touch with former president Chandrika Kumaratunga, a key player in convincing Sirisena to stand, said the officer. Former president Kumaratunga did not respond to requests for comment.

Rajapaksa’s unexpected defeat after two terms in office coincided with growing concern in India that it was losing influence in Sri Lanka because of the former president’s tilt toward regional rival China. 

The concern turned into alarm late last year when Rajapaksa allowed two Chinese submarines to dock in Sri Lanka without warning New Delhi, as he should have under a standing agreement, said the sources.