A controversial article which appeared in the Sri Lankan defence website created friction between India and the island country. The article titled “How meaningful are Jayalalithaa's love letters to Narendra Modi” accompanied with graphic pictures created a furore in India with all parties cutting across political divides condemning it.
Finally after intervention from Ministry of External Affairs, the article was removed from the website. Sri Lanka's defence authority also apologised for this error. "We extend an unqualified apology to the Honourable Prime Minister of India and Honourable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu," said a statement posted on the Lankan Defence Ministry website. "The article which had been published without appropriate authorisation and not reflecting any official position of the Government of Sri Lanka or Ministry of Defence and Urban Development has since been removed," it added.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said the Government acted with "alacrity" after knowing about the objectionable article and it drew immediate result. Earlier this matter was taken up in the Parliament with CPI condemning it and asking government to seek apology from Colombo.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa was also extremely displeased with the publication of this objectionable article. She hurriedly shot off a letter to the Prime Minister alleging that Sri Lanka was trying to create fissure in India's federal policy when none exist. Jayalalithaa said she as a public political figure had faced criticism and comments but this was a "blatant attempt to ridicule and trivialize the untiring efforts made by a democratically elected leader to resolve an important livelihood issue of fishermen of Tamil Nadu." It was 'completely unacceptable' that a highly objectionable article was published on the official website, she said.
"The added visual image on the website is clearly aimed at denigrating the elected leaders of India, the world's largest democracy, and particularly a 66 year-old woman political leader of many years' standing. These are affronts to India which cannot be ignored or lighlty brushed aside," she added. She said while there was a disclaimer that the Defence Ministry bears no responsibility for the ideas in an Op-Ed page where the article was published, the 'reprehensible visual' indicated that the views were not necessarily that of the author but the government itself.
The issue of fishermen from Tamil Nadu being arrested by Sri Lankan navy has created considerable tension between the two countries in the recent past. Jayalalithaa on her part has taken a very strong position repeatedly writing letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene in this matter. The article in the defence website was probably a retaliation to that. But it crossed the level of decency and finally Sri Lanka had to apologise in this matter. This issue has been now resolved but it again demonstrrated how sensitive the relations between India and its 'friendly' neighbour Sri Lanka are.