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Web-post summons to envoy

New Delhi, Aug. 4: India today summoned Sri Lanka’s top diplomat here to protest a crudely headlined article mocking Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa published on the website of the country’s defence ministry, after protests from the state government.

Sri Lanka’s defence ministry had on Friday itself withdrawn the article and tendered an unqualified apology to Jayalalithaa and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also named in that article, following a protest lodged by India with Colombo.

But today, Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK demanded in both Houses of Parliament that India register its protest with Sri Lanka’s high commissioner, insisting that the defence ministry apology was inadequate.

Foreign minister Sushma Swaraj responded to the AIADMK demand, led by Rajya Sabha MP V. Maitreyan, condemning the article and calling the concerns about it “serious”.

“India strongly condemns it,” Sushma said. “We will definitely summon the high commissioner of that country and tell him about it.”

Sri Lanka only recently appointed a new high commissioner — Sudarshan Seneviratne — in New Delhi. Seneviratne presented his credentials to President Pranab Mukherjee on July 31, a day before the article was published.

The article, published by an independent Sri Lankan analyst, mocked Jayalalithaa and argued that her clout on India-Sri Lanka ties would reduce under Modi, who, it said, would not let her whims dictate New Delhi’s policies towards Colombo. Jayalalithaa has written a series of letters to Modi over the past two weeks demanding diplomatic intervention to protect Tamil fishermen arrested by Sri Lanka.

But while government-supported articles critical of serial Tamil Nadu governments are routine, this article — referring to the chief minister’s letters — in its headline asked the question: “How meaningful are Jayalalitha’s love letters to Narendra Modi?”