How the LTTE damaged the Sri Lankan Tamil cause
More than a generation has grown up without knowing what the Indian intervention in Sri Lanka in 1987 was all about. Shekhar Gupta does well to remind us just why there is no need to shed any tears for the LTTE:
Bipin Joshi and I had many conversations on this subsequently, particularly after he took over as army chief (and where he died, tragically, of a heart attack while still in service). He still argued he was right in his description of the LTTE. If they were not macho and irrational, he said, why would they defend Jaffna against a full-fledged army in a conventional manner, a battle they were destined to lose — which they did. No clever, well-led guerrilla force would commit such a blunder, you can’t create a Stalingrad with sneak and ambush, he would say. The LTTE’s (ultimately) disastrous defence of Jaffna, he said, was the starkest example of this cruel, macho irrationality that cared little for human life, theirs or the enemy’s.
In this moment of the LTTE’s destruction and defeat you can’t but reflect on that. What kind of people take on an entire nation’s modern army, in the face of total worldwide opprobrium to their terrorist ways and unmindful of the plight of the Tamils whose cause they professed to be fighting for? Only people driven by violent madness, militaristic fascism, the suicide-bomber cult, for whom killing is not a means to the end, but the very purpose of living. Over two and a half decades, the LTTE has killed literally tens of thousands, a majority of them Tamil. They invented the human bomb and used one to kill the one man (Rajiv Gandhi) who staked his name and reputation and his country’s might and resources to find for their fellow Tamils a peaceful and just settlement. But obviously, that is not what the LTTE and its megalomaniac supremo had wanted. All they wanted was killing, killing and more killing. For Prabhakaran, peace talks were just a cynical tactic to recover, regroup and rearm whenever the going got tough. When the IPKF, under Lt Gen Amar Kalkat, had got the better of him decisively and controlled all inhabited areas, driving him into his Kilinochchi dugout (from which the Sri Lankans have just prised him out) he made common cause with President Premadasa, one of the cruellest and most pathologically anti-Tamil Sinhala leaders ever. Together they got rid of the IPKF — with help from a sudden turn in Tamil Nadu politics after Rajiv Gandhi’s defeat and the arrival in power, in Delhi and Chennai, respectively, of a hopelessly lily-livered V.P. Singh and a Karunanidhi almost as cynical as Vaiko is now. That done, Premadasa too was blown up by a teenaged LTTE human bomb, and how bomb and target got into such close proximity is a story too sordid to be told in a family newspaper even in these permissive times. [IE]