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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2586

Warning of rising anti-Indian feelings

By Janaka Perera

Any attempt by Delhi to pressure Sri Lanka over the anti-LTTE military offensive is bound to create a wave of strong anti-Indian feelings in the island – perhaps even leading to a boycott of Indian goods. This could seriously damage Indo-Lanka relations more than at any time in the post-independence era.

Teleshan Network (TNL) Chairman Shan Wickremesinghe made this observation during the Isira Radio Channel's daily news analysis on Monday October 20. Participating in the programme Isira CEO and Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Hudson Samarasinghe expressed the same view. According to them their warnings were meant to be heard not only by the Sri Lankan public but also the Indian High Commission. Wickremesinghe said he was aware of the HC monitoring Isira and hoped that the message was conveyed to Delhi's decision makers.

Wickremesinghe said there is a limit to people's patience. Even a dog that is continuously harassed will one day turn around and bite its tormentor. Samarasinghe recalled how President Premadasa openly and forcefully expressed his anger when India used bullying tactics in getting Sri Lanka to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord. The SLBC Chief said that for nearly 30 years Sri Lanka has been facing the Tiger menace and yet she is still not allowed to make her own decision in dealing with this vermin.

In the wake of these warnings a meeting in Parliament of all political parties opposed to Indian interference in the anti-LTTE military campaign has been scheduled for Tuesday, October 21. National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa has already sent a letter to Speaker W.J.M. Lokubandara in this connection. Meanwhile the JHU (Jaathika Hela Urumaya) is having discussions on the possibility of forming an alliance of parties to oppose India's dubious role in the current crisis. A public meeting on this issue will be held at the Colombo New Town Hall on October 30.

Pakistani sources do not rule out the possibility of Delhi trying everything – short of a direct military intervention - to take the wind out of the sails of Sri Lanka's final push to crush the LTTE militarily. Unconfirmed reports say that the desperate Tigers might even resort to killing Sri Lankan Tamil civilians and Indian fishermen and thereafter implicate Sri Lankan security forces thus giving Delhi an excuse to issue a veiled threat to Colombo.

Wimal Weerawansa has demanded that Minister P.Chandrasekeran should be sacked from the government for expressing solidarity with Tamil Nadu jingoes calling for Indian intervention to stop Sri Lanka's anti-LTTE military offensive.

In this context highly provocative and ludicrous is the interview that C. Mahendran, senior leader of the Tamil Nadu branch of the Communist Party of India has given to TamilNet. He is reported as saying Sri Lanka should be made a confederation having constitutional guarantees, preventing one unit militarily interfering with the other. In other words legitimize the LTTE combat units and recognize Tiger sovereignty over North-Eastern Sri Lanka!

What makes most Sri Lankans seethe with anger is that Delhi's 'solutions' military or otherwise have not so far worked in Kashmir. Yet they have the nerve to advice Colombo that there can be no military solution to this country's terrorist problem. India is still militarily fighting Kahmiri separatists. And what kind of policy did Delhi pursue in the Punjab to crush Sikh separatism – was it Gandhian principles? The difference between the "Tamil Eelam" myth and the Sikh Khalistan is that the latter did not have the sympathy of a big bully across the border. So Delhi was free to give the 'solution' the Sikh terrorists understood. No one urged India to reach a negotiated settlement with the Silkh separatists.

Political observers note that unlike the largely JVP-engineered anti-Indian hysteria of 1987-89, any public opposition to India this time will be genuine and serious, with long-term implications for both nations.

- Asian Tribune -

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