Thursday, January 22, 2009

India, LTTE & a sequel to Vadamarachchi - Prabakaran's escape

by Shenali Waduge

To India’s stepped up vigilance & surveillance of air & coastal waters to prevent LTTE leader Prabakaran from escaping to India we have only two questions – who ordered a helicopter to depart from Hindon military base, New Delhi in 1987 to save a cornered Prabakaran in Vadamarachchi? Why did India decide to descend upon Sri Lanka, ignore our country’s territorial integrity & save a TERRORIST? There was no “war on terror” in the early 1980s but India the creators of the LTTE armed cadres knew very well that the LTTE was no “freedom fighter” but an Indian trained killer machine.

In 1987 Prabarkaran was India’s friend for it was Prabakaran who was able to bring a pro-US Jayawardena Government to its knees. To India Prabakaran was their tool to ensure a destable Sri Lanka. Dictatorial insurgents lasts as long as their leader remains in power thus we see a frenzied clamoring to “rescue” a supposedly ailing & injured Prabakaran from the clutches of ordinary soldiers who are likely to be the actual decision makers of Prabakaran’s fate.

We can understand India’s decision to rescue Prabakaran from Vadamarachchi – Indira Gandhi’s covert operation tasked over to the RAW was only into its initial years, the modus operandi was to have Sri Lanka involved in a long drawn out war & it needed India’s action even if it meant diplomatic skirmishes to evacuate Prabakaran out of Vadamarachchi & keep alive a supposed “Eelaam” dream. We all know that Rajiv Gandhi had no intention of giving Prabakaran or the Eelaam lobbyists their “Eelaam” & this was primarily a reason to eliminate Rajiv Gandhi who was anyway facing many internal problems & scandals. What Prabakaran got at most was an Indo-Lanka Peace Accord that served India’s purpose alone since it was the only means by which Trincomalee Natural Harbour could be aligned to the North. We here recall a few of the “irritants” President Jayawardena caused Indira Gandhi which was allowing the US to set up a Voice of America station & the use of its oil storage facility in Trincomalee. The Indian Peace Keeping Force knew nothing of what to expect in Sri Lanka’s North & a General who thought he could disarm the LTTE in 3 weeks. It took a very short stay for the IPKF to realize exactly what they were dealing with – the irony here was that soldiers of the IPKF were actually trapped in Sri Lanka & had to pay the price of death by an LTTE that had the blessings of India’s RAW officers. If these IPKF soldiers & officers have not had a proper memorial for their R2P operation in Sri Lanka it is apt at least for the Indian Government to apologize to the slain families of these soldiers for using the IPKF as bait for a strategic exercise in Sri Lanka.

Once again we urge the Indian people to question the reliability of the RAW & its “briefings” on the New Delhi decision makers – we know that an exasperated Indian envoy to Sri Lanka J N Dixit even ordered for the killing of Prabakaran which was vetoed. India, the international community may all apply strategic policies upon different nations & we are well aware that covert operations are all part & parcel of present day politics yet terrorists that are created are highly unlikely to wish to be vanquished after their job is done. Terrorists who are given birth by “democratic governments” eventually end up tormentors to their creators – the US are having nightmares because of Osama Bin Laden & India has enough of experience from different corners & doesn’t even know who is responsible!

Be that as it may in the present context of Sri Lanka’s conflict we have a nation that has been kept saddled with a “problem” that is intrinsically trapped by the aspects that keep alive the “problem” - the LTTE demand a separate state, they call themselves the sole representative of the Sri Lankan Tamil people, they speak of “grievances”, “discriminations” “genocide” “ethnic cleansing”. While many have enjoyed associating themselves with the LTTE’s “grievances” very few if any have asked what these “grievances” actually are – place them down in black & white & see whether these “grievances” are “LIMITED” to Tamils ALONE or whether they are applicable to the other ethnic groups as well & if so whether it is only changes in administrative policies that need be applied instead of carving out a separate state. How many have asked whether all sovereign nations today actually cater to everyone’s “grievances” in equal measure, implying how will Prabakaran meet everyone’s “aspirations” in a separate Eelaam? How many have not questioned why the LTTE chose to kill all of the leading Tamils in society including Tamils who have been given key portfolios in different Governments. How many have asked why Sinhalese & Muslims were chased out & killed from the North in order to declare that the North of Sri Lanka belonged only to the Tamils – not a single country, media unit or UN agency claimed the LTTE was committing ethnic cleansing. How many have asked why LTTE uses children denying them their right to be children….

Many are guilty of silently co-championing the LTTE cause including our politicized media….when LTTE propaganda far superior to State media tells the world the wrong picture how many media channels portrayed the clear picture to the world – did not some join in these propaganda to agree that Sri Lanka was having an “ethnic” problem when we are all aware including all the emissaries in Sri Lanka that the Tamils live comfortably amongst the Sinhalese, enjoy equal status jobs, schooling & lifestyle….if the tiger supreme did a job for a change instead of hiding in an AC underground bunker & lived a normal life he may see things from a different perspective instead of keeping himself & his brainwashed cadres in the thick jungles of Mullaitivu & feeding them nothing but hatred.

If the NGOs/INGOs feel perplexed at the manner the GOSL is now treating them the links some of these NGOs/INGOS have directly & indirectly had with LTTE terrorists will reveal why most Sri Lankans are skeptical of their presence in Third World nations – when footage of areas now under army control are shown we wonder what these NGOs/INGOs stationed in the North have been doing all these years & what has become of the dollar/EU funds sent for development. We are left to watch in disbelief at the unbelievable underground bunkers most tiled & with ACs, bunds, tunnels & 7 runways that belong to the LTTE….& immediately deduce where the expertise would have come from.

India has ensured Sri Lanka suffered 25 years of conflict – not a single Government was able to rise up to international pressures. The LTTE was deemed an invisible force – possibly because it had the backing of many quarters at times even within the Government & the CFA becomes a perfect example of a carte blanche given to the LTTE for a defacto state within a sovereign state, allowing it to arm itself & prepare for a protracted offensive & Government signatories were cajoled into believing that development incentives for Sri Lanka will be doubled as a result – all the nation had to do was allow the LTTE to do as they wished. In the backdrop of this & an LTTE well equipped to take on a weak Government it must have surprised the present Government who found itself cornered in the Mavil Aru incident. The manner in which the Rajapakse Government was steered to take action from Southern quarters was unprecedented. The force of public pressure eventually created a determined Government, a stern Defence Secretary & the brilliance of command in the Army Commander & the commanders of the Airforce & Navy as well as the Police.

In just two years the large stretch of territory that the LTTE deemed theirs slowly started ceding to Sovereign Sri Lanka & today LTTE is left with a little less than in the jungles of Mullaitivu which is fast shrinking daily. We are told that the LTTE has with them 230,000 civilians – this figure is extremely difficult to believe & the logistics of handling such a large number for a fleeing LTTE group makes the figures more precarious to imagine. However, though the total given by NGOs/INGOs may be just an exaggeration of those who wish to delay the inevitable elimination of the LTTE we must accept that the LTTE must be having a significant number of human shields, my assertion has been nothing more than 55,000 people – mind you these are all Tamil people who will end up been killed by the LTTE, so much for being their protector.

Now we come to the most important subject of this discussion – the Tamil Nadu leaders – from Karunanidhi to Vaiko, from Thol. Thirumayalayan to Stalin, from Vijaya Kanth to Nedoomaran all have been staging fasts, burning effigies & destroying public transport to force the Indian Central Government to save the LTTE – we need not take these uproars seriously because it is all part of the election campaign but for India the forthcoming elections are crucial & for Congress especially. It has faced many problems internally & so far the Indian people have been isolated from the truth of India’s dealings vis a vis Sri Lanka & the RAW – for most Indians terrorism has been equated with Islamic terrorism alone but essentially this should not be so.

It was a perfect ploy to use “Tamil nationalism” in Sri Lanka but it has at the same time awakened desires for a Tamil homeland in Tamil Nadu as well. Of the 80million Tamils in the world 62million live in Tamil Nadu & only 2.4million live in Sri Lanka & of this number more than half live outside the North & East of Sri Lanka & amongst the Sinhalese. Nevertheless, as an “ethnic” group with a large global representation the Tamils do not have a homeland & calls to set up a homeland in Tamil Nadu in the 1960s came a crop following Jawarhalal Nehru taking immediate action to quell any forms of “separatist” agendas. This however has not stopped Tamil Nadu leaders from desiring or “aspiring” for a separate state & it is this that translates into their close affinity to the LTTE cause & its leader Prabakaran even if it means that the “Eelaam” should kick-start in Sri Lanka but eventually come “home” to Tamil Nadu.. For right or wrong reasons, Prabarakan has taken the “Tamil dream” a long way even if it has taken a “jungle terrorism” format. The entire world knows of Tamil separatism. For the Tamil Nadu leaders Prabakaran is only a MEANS to justify the End & like Ben Bella of Algeria, Prabakaran will be of no use if he is ever able to achieve that “Eelam” in Sri Lanka. If an Eelaam is created in Sri Lanka it will only be a matter of time that it will treacle to Tamil Nadu & India will then have to face the consequences & India will do its utmost to avoid the inevitable. Thus, India’s designs to prolong that eventuality.

For India to ride the pre-election tide, keep the coalition partners happy, continue the destable Sri Lanka operation – Prabakaran needs to remain alive & uncaptured. If we see naval blockades been attacked by suicide boats, aircrafts hovering Sri Lanka’s skies we need to wonder immediately if another Vadamarachchi operation is likely to take place. The death of Prabakaran will mean an end to LTTE, silencing the Tamil Nadu leaders & possibly even backfiring a tumultuous wave to keep alive Prabakaran’s dream by continuing it in Tamil Nadu. For pre-election time India this would be fatal & disastrous whatever legislation prevails to prevent separatist thought, which is why we must wonder whether India’s show of surveillance, directives to check hospitals for an injured Prabakaran are mere gimmicks to hide the actual intent of whisking Prabakaran to safety to be released once all the excitement dies down.

In the eventuality that this does occur what would it translate to – essentially that the dream of “Tamil eelaam” has not been lost or dethroned & those who benefit by the LTTE indirectly can continue their propaganda drives until Prabakaran can re-surface. Is it all that easy? Jaffna peninsular now under control of the military saw for the first time a massive attendance for an exhibition organized just to test the water – we saw for the first time our citizens enjoying life, enjoying the music, dancing, laughing & having fun….these were people who were denied years of their right to be like normal human beings…when Paranthan, Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass was captured we saw the people of the North waving the Sri Lankan flag in jubilation, we heard non-stop crackers even in predominantly Tamil residential areas of Colombo & even massive walks by Tamil people demanding the LTTE to release the Tamil people whom the LTTE are keeping as human shields. The increase of Tamil civilians entering Government controlled areas depict that the people have shown their trust in the armed forces….these are all signals to warn a fleeing Prabakaran (who ends up in Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, Thailand, Eritrea, or anywhere else) that he is unlikely to enter a “separatist” cause in Sri Lanka & have the people backing him which is why we can deduce that even as a guerilla outfit Prabakaran is unlikely to succeed. In his 50s, suffering from diabetes, injured Prabakaran is unlikely to be the attraction behind the cause for much longer….we have rarely known of dictators been succeeded by their sons!

A sequel to Vadamarachchi is what most of us believe India is capable of doing given the implications of what is likely to occur for India more than Sri Lanka as a result of the “demise” of the LTTE – how the LTTE & its obituary is written will be interesting to see in the days to come.