|Lanka crisis enlivens Tamil politics|
|Friday, 31 October 2008|
As the Tamil Tigers of the LTTE begin to feel the heat from the largely successful operations against them by the Sri Lankan army, politicians in Tamil Nadu have rushed to assume the role of custodians of the battered Tamil-speaking population in the island nation. Their strategy of forcing the hands of the government of India to quickly initiate some kind of 'intervention' is flawed and fraught with dangerous consequences.
Some have already wondered why the Tamil politicians who are so touched by the plight of minorities and their human rights violations in Sri Lanka had remained silent through the unabated assaults on minorities in certain parts of India in recent weeks. Some others have asked if the Tamil MPs were elected to serve the interest of the people of Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka.
The assertion by the Tamil politicians that their move had nothing to do with the LTTE did not look convincing. The political chief of the LTTE, B. Nadesan, was quoted as saying: 'We are encouraged by the united support extended by political parties of Tamil Nadu for the people of Tamil Elam struggling for their rights amidst aerial bombardments and artillery fire.' If the Tamil Nadu politicians think that India can help build 'international pressure' to stop the Sri Lankan army's current military operations against the Tamil Tigers they may be mistaken.
A right wing politician in Sri Lanka, Wimal Weerawamsa, has asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to go ahead full steam without succumbing to international pressure since the present military campaign offered the 'last chance' for any government in Colombo to finish off the LTTE. An 'all-party' meeting in Chennai passed a resolution on 14 October that called upon all the 39 members of parliament from the state to resign if New Delhi did not ensure a ceasefire between the Sri Lankan army and the LTTE within a fortnight. Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi, daughter of the DMK supremo and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunakaran, has already submitted her resignation-post-dated October 29-to her father to suggest that the resignation move is serious. There is no doubt that a large number of people in Tamil Nadu, if not the majority in the state, feel for their fellow Tamilians in Sri Lanka who have been going through extremely hard times, caught in the crossfire between the relentless pursuit by the Sri Lankan army on one side and the Tamil Tigers on the other for control of areas held by the latter.
As stories of the travails of the Tamilians in Sri Lanka get more and more sordid the mood in Tamil Nadu must certainly be one of disgust and horror. The Tamil politicians who gathered at Chennai on 14 October and passed the unanimous resolution to register their solidarity with the Tamils of Sri Lanka were obviously trying to take political advantage of the popular sentiments in the state. The AIADMK, the main opposition party, in the state was not part of that conclave, nor were the MDMK and the BJP. But nobody expects the DMK and the AIADMK to share a platform even if both of them support a particular cause. In any case, the AIADMK has no member in parliament and the MDMK leadership supports the idea of pressurising New Delhi for some 'action' against the Sri Lankan military. A problem that sometimes arises when politicians go along with popular sentiments is that they fail to see-or refuse to do so-that their demand makes little sense in the larger context. In the last decade or so many ceasefire agreements have been signed and broken and the island nation has hardly enjoyed a full period of peace ever since the LTTE took to militancy. How or by what method can the civil strife in Sri Lanka be brought to an end in a matter of two weeks by India? Perhaps it is possible with a decisive victory of one side.
But that side, from all indications, can only be the Sri Lankan military. Surely, that is not what the Tamil politicians want to see and there is no question of the LTTE conceding defeat unless it has been completely annihilated. For a ceasefire to work the two sides in the conflict must honour the agreement that they sign. The history of the Sri Lankan trouble does not suggest the two sides have been very sincere in following the terms of the ceasefire after signing them.
Though the last ceasefire, which did last longer than anyone had expected, was finally called off after months of pretensions by both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE that they wanted to honour it. The LTTE blamed the Sri Lankan military for ceasefire violations and the latter said it was the Tamil Tigers who went back on the ceasefire promise and resumed attacks on Sri Lankan targets and civilians, inflicting many civilian casualties and causing damage to property. But soon the army and the Tigers were engaged in a full-scale war for the control of the Tiger-held areas in the north and the east of the island. It was one of the deadliest wars as it uprooted thousands of Tamilians, sandwiched between the advancing army and the retreating Tigers. Many observers think that after years of bitter conflict the Sri Lankan army has a fair chance of regaining much of the Tiger-controlled land. If that becomes possible the elimination of the LTTE will be complete, its 'warrior' image permanently bruised.
The government in Colombo is apparently quite confident of its 'victory' and pretty soon too. That may be one of the reasons why Colombo did not look particularly perturbed by the Tamil politicians demand for action by New Delhi. Colombo's official reaction that what the Tamil Nadu politicians said and demanded was an 'internal matter' of India must have came as a surprise to many. The Sri Lankan government also said that it was alive to the political 'sensitivities' of various Indian constituencies. The response of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, that India was 'concerned' over escalating hostilities in Sri Lanka and favoured a negotiated settlement of the Tamil problem instead of a military solution too would not have displeased Colombo, especially when the prime minister also added that India respected the unity and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. After burning its hands completely through an earlier interventionist policy in Sri Lanka, the government of India has no desire to repeat that folly, which many say eventually resulted in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the author of that policy, at the hands of the LTTE, a 'terrorist' organisation.
To bring any meaningful pressure on Colombo to scale down its operations in the Tamil-held areas in Sri Lanka the first thing that may be necessary is to ensure that the LTTE gives up its policy of mindless violence. Resignations by some MPs in direct or indirect support of the LTTE India will not be able to achieve that aim.
Chandrahasan, Syndicate Features
(Courtesy : centralchronicle.com )
|Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 July 2009 )|
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