They kill man-eating tigers

India must support the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil Tigers

Here’s what is happening in Sri Lanka — having successfully created a conducive political environment Velupillai’s Prabhakaran’s LTTE has returned to its preferred murderous route of seeking a separate homeland for the island’s Tamils. It’s entire strategy of participating in Norwegian-mediated ceasefires and negotiations was in response to post-9/11 international climate that was unsympathetic to terrorism. The parallel with its earlier behaviour — when it undermined a peace process put together under Rajiv Gandhi — is obvious. Prabhakaran & Co have clutched on to the means with as much determination as they have clutched on to the ends. However much Indians may sympathise with the ethnic Tamils in Sri Lanka, it is impossible to consider the Prabhakaran-led Tamil Tigers anything more than an incorrigible bunch of murderous terrorists who stand in the way of peace in Sri Lanka.

Two months ago, The Acorn argued that Jayalalithaa’s defeat in the Tamil Nadu state assembly elections will make it that much more difficult for the Indian government to take an anti-LTTE position. That, unfortunately, is now the case. It is not unusual to see some of Tamil Nadu’s politicians calling for Indian intervention in Sri Lanka, implicitly in the LTTE’s favour, whenever the Prabhakaran has a battle on its hands. That they are now in power, in an alliance sympathetic to the UPA government in New Delhi, makes India’s electoral politics a tactical ally in the LTTE’s current terror offensive.

India’s current policy of ‘neutrality’ that includes denying military assistance to the Sri Lankan government risks being outpaced by the LTTE’s campaign. The restraint with which President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government has handled the situation is bound to swing international opinion in his favour. The EU has already signaled this. India’s policy of discouraging international arms sales to the Sri Lankan government will become increasingly hard to defend. Unless India raises its game immediately, it risks being isolated on this issue.

Despite the domestic political environment and lack of leadership militating against it, what India has to do in Sri Lanka is clear. That begins with the elimination of the section of the LTTE that is irreconciliably opposed to a peaceful settlement, weakening of the Tamil Tigers as a military force and institution of a federal solution in Sri Lanka that protects the interests of all its communities. It may be a tall order. Yet it can be achieved with imagination, initiative and above all, resolve. The boats are already coming in, ahead of problems that will make India’s options even worse.

7 thoughts on “They kill man-eating tigers”

  1. Nitin: I agree that the LTTE needs to be gotten rid of, but I would not think that the Rajapakse goverment has not been vitiating things. I am Tamil, but not an apologist for the LTTE; nevertheless, India’s position, while helping get rid of the LTTE, should also send a rather strong message to the ruling govt that they cannot use the LTTE as an excuse to not address the Tamil issue. I think we are past the point of discussing that it was the LTTE that brought this on. We need to fix the problem, not the blame now.

  2. Shameful and racist post that ignores the attacks on Tamils. The Rajapakse Government is a racist one that has killed Tamil civilians through air attacks and militia groups. Common Nitin – do not be anti-Tamil. Learn from cynical nerd for a change.

  3. Anand,

    India’s position, while helping get rid of the LTTE, should also send a rather strong message to the ruling govt that they cannot use the LTTE as an excuse to not address the Tamil issue.

    It’s precisely because the LTTE’s recourse to terrorism that India (or anyone else) cannot take up the Tamils’ issue with any seriousness with the Sri Lankan government. Simply put, the LTTE is fully responsible for damaging the cause of those it seeks to represent.

    Anon,

    I choose to make a distinction between Tamils and those who perpetrate terrorist acts in their name. There is nothing shameful or racist about that. It will be a sad day when all the Sri Lankan Tamils have to represent their cause is a bunch of murderous thugs. It is shameful not to be able to distinguish between Tamils and LTTE.

  4. Nitin

    I disagree with your point that the Rajapakse administration has been restrained and that this policy might elicit it international favor.

    The EU banned the LTTE but then proceeded to apportion significant levels of blame for the deteriorating security environment on the Rajapakse administration. The Nordic-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission issued a report last week that criticized both paramilitary groups linked to the armed forces and the LTTE for the recent upsurge in violence.

    I think the Tamils, like the Palestinians, have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This said, the southern polity in Sri Lanka is hardly better off. For one, it is financially broke. Sri Lanka can never be peaceful and at the same time a Sinhalese Buddhist state. The two contradict each other. Rajapakse fails to understand that the Sri Lankan state has failed to defeat the LTTE in 20 years. Even if the LTTE were to be defeated, other Tamil groups, currently marginalized, will continue the agitation for equal rights.

    The war clouds are ominous indeed. This in itself is a lesson to the majoritarian Sinhalese worldview, one that remains intact in the Rajapakse government. For it was these policies that led to the Tamil revolt in the first place.

    Let me conclude by adding that India is irrelevant to Sri Lanka today. It will never intervene any more!

  5. Nitin,
    I agree with u when u say that the LTTE should be removed from this planet. I wonder if there is any other country in the world which would leave an organisation that had killed its former PM roam around scott free in its neighbourhood clamouring for a seperate state. I dont differentiate between LTTE and Al-qaeda. Firstly the Sri lankan govt should be extended all the help it needs including military support. I dont see a peaceful resolution of the conflict without an Indian military intervention. Secondly,our military should be sent there, disarm the Tigers, get hold of the place and get the organisation ridden-off with the roots. I think the way US went to IRAQ or Afghanistan should be a lesson to our political experts. Nipping in the buds. It might prove to be a coslty move but would be a strategically right and important one that had long been awaited. If not for our govt.’s soft approach to the issue i don think the LTTE would have grown as big..

  6. Mahe

    I betcha your Government will never do what you propose :-)current administration in India lacks guts.

    The problem with certain Indians is that they do not study their neighborhood with the exception of studying Pakistan.

    The LTTE won a victory of sorts in a naval skirmish with the Sri Lankan forces off the Indian coast yesterday! Now this is real close to your coast!!

  7. Around a day after the DMK government took office, refugees started pouring in to Rameswaram etc. When the state government is led by a party that supports the LTTE and parties in the union government support the LTTE, it is tough to expect the Indian government to do anything about the LTTE except mouth platitudes.

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