Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tigers' travesty

The Tamil Tiger's recent volte-face on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination has shocked political analysts worldwide who know A to Z about LTTE. Ever since the killing of India's charismatic leader in 1991, the Tamil rebel group has never admitted its guilt. In fact, at one of the Oslo peace talks sessions in 2002, Anton Balasingham - the ideologue who did the needful for the LTTE this time - himself had "categorically" denied any involvement, and had stormed out of the room looking "very angry". "It is a monumental hypocrisy, an insult to Indian public opinion as well as international opinion. The Tigers don't clearly say in the tape that they did it. This kind of statement by Balasingham does not absolve them of the culpability," says General VR Raghavan, Director of Centre for Strategic Analysis.

In an interview to a private channel in New Delhi, the LTTE's ideologue had said that what happened in 1992 was a "great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy, for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Government of India and people of India to put the past behind". What took the LTTE so long to realise their "monumental blunder"? Have the Tigers really changed their stripes, or is it just another classic LTTE ploy? "The LTTE is isolated internationally. They have nothing to show as a peace dividend in spite of a ceasefire of four years. They must know by now that without India's intervention there can be no solution." "And they will know that India's involvement, if not directly but indirectly on behalf of the Sri Lankan government will be worse for them," reasons Dr S Chandrasekharan, Director of South Asia Analysis Group.

The move by the Tamil rebels comes amid mounting violence in the island nation. The group's image suffered a severe blow after it was banned by the European Union. "In the very first place, the Tigers are trying to sidestep the tragedy by saying that it is a monumental tragedy. Secondly, they are trying to create differences between the Sri Lankan and the Indian governments. LTTE now wants India on their side," clarifies General Raghavan. What Raghavan asks is: "Are these the Tigers who conspired with President Premadasa in the 90s to oust the Indian Peace Keeping Force?" "Sorrow", "repentance" and "forgiveness", which smack of sublime spirituality, can never be in the vocabulary of a killing machine, which vows adherence to ways of the brute, says Sri Lanka's leading paper Daily News.

The Tigers' recent act has become more or less a "tragicomedy" the world over. While a few parties in India call it "silly", back home in Sri Lanka too, the Tigers are being laughed at! "Repentance for the spilling of innocent blood, coming from an organisation, which seems to be having an insatiable appetite for terror, is an incongruity, which is comic in the extreme," says the Daily News editorial. Both Raghavan and Chandrasekharan say that it is difficult to forget and forgive such a dastardly attack and believe that India should now drag the Tigers to the court of law. If indeed, the LTTE wanted to apologise for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, it should say that publicly, in court, where there a criminal case pending against the Tiger chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran, according to a Sri Lankan government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwela.

Prabhakaran and his Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman, who are the first and second accused in the case, are still "proclaimed offenders" and the Interpol has been on the hunt for them. Also, aptly, India has made it clear that forgiving the Tigers is tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination. The Sri Lankan media reiterates this view. "Even if the LTTE goes on its bended knees to India over the granting of a pardon for the assassination of former Premier Rajiv Gandhi, India would remain unswayed, for this would amount to endorsing the Tigers' policy of using terror for the achievement of political aims," says Daily News. The Secretary General of the government Peace Secretariat Dr Palitha Kohona describes Balasingham's "apology" as a "political ploy" to prevent India from taking any decisions which might affect the LTTE adversely.

Clearly, Balasingham's ploy has failed. He had wanted a sympathetic response in India. But all he got was brickbats and egg on his face. Even the response in Tamil Nadu has been extremely lukewarm with Chief Minister Karunanidhi saying that Balasingham's statement is confusing! The Tiger's think tank will now have to come up with another ploy.

(Written for HT on June 01, 2006)


Nagesu S Singam (Toronto) said...

The Indian intelligence officials referred to in Meenakshi Iyer's article, conveniently forget pages of history that do not suit them: Rajiv Gandhi was killed because he acted on wrong advice and he wrongly ordered the killings of thousands of innocent Tamil civilians, the rape of many hundreds of Tamil women (even a 90-year-old Tamil women was raped by IPKF, according to a speech made in Sri Lankan parliament by Premadasa), the indefinite detention and torture of many more thousands of Tamils, and the destruction of their homes and even Hindu temples, in North and East of Sri Lanka.

Some Sikh soldiers openly said they were "taking revenge against the Tamils", because Blue Star Operation was carried out by the Madras (Tamil) regiment. At that time, many Tamil villagers in Sri Lanka, innocently asked, what was Blue Star. They have not even heard of Bindharanwale. Sinhalese, since independance in 1948, have all throughout been anti-Indian. In 1948, they brought laws that made Tamils of Indian origin in the Sri Lanka's central highlands "stateless". In 1971, during the Bangladeshi War, Sri Lankan government sided with Pakistan and provided re-fuelling facilities to Pak warplanes in Colombo.

Tamil MPs objected to this in the Sri Lankan Parliament. Tamils on the otherhand, have always thought of India generally and Tamil Nadu specifically, as another motherland of theirs. In 1964, when India fought against China, I remember Tamils collected "Fund for India's defence" and sent to the Indian government. In the late seventies and early eighties, the then President of Sri Lanka, planned to bring the Voice of America into Sri Lanka to the detriment of India. Indira Gandhi then used Tamil militants diplomatically, so that Jayawardene come running to New Delhi and fell at the lady's feet.

Today's ill-feelings on both sides (Tamils and India) are due to the wrong advice of RAW and South Block officials given to the inexperienced Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and his acting on them without consulting at least those Tamil leaders from Sri Lanka like Amirthalingam and Sivasithamparam who had very good relationship with Indira Gandhi. He preferred to trust JN Dixit, Natwar Singh, Romesh Bhandari, Hindu's editor N Ram and others who were on Sri Lanka's pay roll.

Until now, no Indian leader has expressed regrets for the holocaust against Eelam Tamils carried out by the IPKF. Let us wait to see when it would dawn on the Indian leaders that they must do so. I fail to see any apology in Dr Balasingam's comments. But, Rajiv was the son of our beloved mother Indira Gandhi who sympathised with us Tamils.

I think Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Manmohan Singh should take a firm decision to put behind them, the unfortunate events of the recent past and make policy decisions that would, in the long run, benefit not only the Eelam Tamils, but also India. If you continue to trust the South Block and RAW entirely, and accepted their wrong in-put and advice, and acted on them, like Rajiv did, your failure is guaranteed.

Pakistan undivided was strong and more effective against India. So is Sri Lanka undivided. But, when Tamil Eelam dawns with India's moral support, Indians do not have to worry over their southern border. Tamils will stand guard and protect India at its southern border.

Suresh Muththaiah, Toronto said...

I am not surprised at Ms Iyer's story on Sri Lankan Tamils or LTTE. Also, not disappointed at the opinions of so-called expert she has mentioned. She has not mentioned a word on what the IPKF did to the Tamils in Lanka, and India has never regretted or apologised for that. Her experts didn't tell her why India trained LTTE in the first place and early days, directed LTTE to kill innocent Sinhala masses (i.e. RAW directed LTTE Anuradhapura massacre). India, for her own geopolitical reasons, trained different Tamil groups in terror activities and militarised the entire Sri Lankan Tamil processes in the 80s, otherwise non-violent.