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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2343

The damage India & LTTE have caused to Sri Lanka

By Shenali Waduge

If we are confused as to why Sri Lanka was indiscriminately projected as suffering from "disunity", "ethnic rivalries" "genocide" there is only one answer to a proper understanding of the problem – India. "India's covert operation camouflaged a terrorist movement to promote ethnic tensions." To how many occurred the need to wonder how Sri Lanka can be categorized as a nation suffering from an "ethnic" problem when there is enough evidence to prove India's involvement in arming LTTE and other militants in Sri Lanka? The covert operation allowed India to take diplomatic leverage of the situation and advance the opportunity to advocate a "political solution" in the form of an Indo-Lanka Agreement and the 13th amendment to the Constitution that amalgamated the North and East to India's advantage and later to secretly author a Cease Fire Agreement brokered by Norway. Yet, despite all the political bullying Sri Lanka has undergone the nation & its people are still magnanimous enough to call India "our friend" and mean it too.

The hypocrisy of India's non-alignment comes in the examples that show India treating injured soldiers of the IPKF sent to Sri Lanka immediately following the signing of the Indo-Lanka Agreement in 1987 while simultaneously treating injured LTTE terrorists in Chennai (terrorists who were responsible for over 2000 IPKF deaths and scores of IPKF injuries) What explanation was given to the Indian public for the USD180million spent on the IPKF operation to Sri Lanka if it was nothing but a charade to cover the actual game plan in forging an amalgamation of the North and East as well as stuffing down the 13th amendment to Sri Lanka's Constitution for India to eventually have greater access to the port of Trincomalee.

We are well aware of the role played by the Indian intelligence agency – RAW in all of the happenings that took place and perhaps even taking place presently. It is upon the RAWs explicit advice that the Indian Government took actions on Sri Lanka….RAWs faux pas was to assume that the LTTE "our boys" would continue to tango to India's tune alone. Not surprisingly, the LTTE-Indian honeymoon did not last for too long and an exasperated Dixit even ordered the killing of Prabakaran which was turned down by General Sundarji – who initially claimed to require only 3 weeks to disarm the LTTE.

India may have thought Prabakaran and his team would remain a paid killer force but the LTTE had larger designs mooted by every political organization in Tamil Nadu, national or regional who secretly or rather openly carried a desire for a separate state for Tamil people. Sri Lanka's covert operation was actually a camouflage to sustain their larger program to realize this aspiration. If we are to give credit to India's intelligence agency – RAW for masterminding regional covert operations, we must assume that the RAW could not have been unaware of this secret desire for a separate homeland by Tamil Nadu leaders as well as Prabakaran.

Whether it was passed on to Indian Government authorities is another matter but obviously this aspect of the covert operation was overlooked or it may have been taken as a non-priority issue since India successfully crushed the We Tamil movement in the late 1960s. If the LTTE eliminated Rajiv Gandhi for not giving Eelam then the RAW must take equal responsibility for undermining the LTTE's actual designs. Similarly, we may also wonder whether the assassination of Rajiv Gandh was ordered by the LTTE leader himself or by "others" which certainly adds to the intrigue. Just as intriguing was the IPKF soldiers being killed by the LTTE in Sri Lanka and LTTE terrorists being given medical treatment and allowed to recuperate in Chennai as well as having courtesy calls by Tamil Nadu leaders. It is believed that the Indian polity are unaware of the underground dealings of their Governments of the past and present assisted by their intelligence operatives. India and its majority North-Indian Government may also not realize that many in the South feel dissatisfied with their share of Indian "democracy".

For all the treachery someone had to pay a supreme price and it was unfortunate that Rajiv Gandhi had to pay for the sins of his mother. The Jain Commission declared the LTTE the guilty party and its leader Prabakaran the 1st accused. Prabakaran remains on India's Most Wanted List.

While speaking of India's covert role in Sri Lanka, it is important to acknowledge that certain Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka espousing separatism under a "federal" cloak gave the green light to wage an armed struggle going so far as to urge Tamil youth to take up arms (Vaddukodai Resolution, 1976). It was in the backdrop of this that India's intelligence agencies would have thought of the plan to destabilize Sri Lanka. India's direct involvement with Sri Lanka's militant groups began in 1981 incidentally through Congress-led Governments – India's public was never privy to India's clandestine operations or strategies. Yet, even despite the eminent downfall of the LTTE, leaders like Vaiko claim that the LTTE cannot be defeated. Let it not be forgotten that India has banned the LTTE but it is unusually surprising that India allows Tamil Nadu leaders to openly side & support even publicly speak for LTTE on Indian soil as well as lobby for the LTTE cause internationally.

If Sri Lanka is important by way of its geopolitical location it is not only India's intelligence agencies that eyes the country but all others – it is not for any love of the common people in Sri Lanka that country's come to fund development programs. China will soon enjoy the fruits of the Hambantota port, India is enjoying Trincomalee and soon many other players will come with vested interests as seen by their diplomatic jargon now changing from pro-LTTE to "development" and civilian rehabilitation – this perhaps will provide continued opportunities for those NGO/INGO heads and their local coteries who have earned well for their role in the misinformation campaign against Sri Lanka. Having tied the Government's hands by becoming prisoner to debts – it becomes an easy endeavor to obtain State approvals for "development" programs thus increasing their "foreign stake" in Sri Lanka….this will soon foresee imperialism in its modern form take root once more and requires for local entrepreneurs to be alert and fast track alternative growth that will remain local. 32 countries have banned the LTTE but funnily enough the LTTE has its foreign headquarters in London where its theoretician late Anton Balasingham was openly working for the LTTE.

One would have thought that India would have learnt from Rajiv Gandhi's murder – lessons in resorting to other means than covert operations by way of arming militants but India's hypocrisy became further accentuated following the disclosure of India's role in the Norwegian-brokered Ceasefire Agreement exactly 10 years after the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Contrary to distancing itself from Sri Lanka, India was very much involved in the authoring of the Cease Fire Agreement though the bulk of Sri Lanka's objections were steered towards Norway and its facilitator Eric Solheim. We are told that many secret meetings took place between India and Norway but are we to assume that the LTTE were unaware of such meetings? – we may presume that having lost faith in Chandrika Bandaranaike these external forces put faith in Ranil Wickremasinghe whose desire to rule Sri Lanka was no secret. The CFA was artfully timed – its signing took place within months of the 9/11 attack & the US "War on Terror" – it nullified any of Sri Lanka's efforts to corner the LTTE.

India even went so far as to moot a Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission – the first such international peace monitoring body outside the UN aegis made up of Nordic countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Iceland) to oversee the ceasefire. They recorded over 3000 LTTE violations but nothing was ever done about them.

For peace happy Sri Lanka, the removal of barricades the opportunity to travel even to the North was all they could think of. Little did they wonder at what expense this jubilation came and exactly what the Agreement had carved out (everything was kept secret even from the President of Sri Lanka and Wickremasinghe's own cabinet) – territory to the LTTE, opportunity for them to procure arms, divulging names of Sri Lanka's intelligence services, disclosure of the deep-penetration units….all these soon led to a systematic program that allowed the LTTE to more or less function in a defacto State, eliminate intelligence officers one by one and prepare for Eelaam IV. The Wickremasinghe Government's shortsightedness can be overlooked in understanding his protracted desire to become Sri Lanka's President, however it was expected that years of political leadership would have given him enough political wisdom to counter the clauses with those that would benefit Sri Lanka and its people, especially the security forces who eventually ended up cannon-fodder and mere guinea pigs in battle and humiliated by the LTTE. Eventually, like parrots Wickremasinghe and his cabinet sang full praises of the CFA and some of these very ministers surprisingly enough are with the present Government now doing the opposite.

If the CFA was an Indian ruse to which the LTTE was a party it showcased India's continued allegiance with a terrorist force and for all the lives lost thus far not only the LTTE but India must share moral responsibility. India's concerns have nothing to do with the Tamil people, they have nothing to do with peace, India is and has only been concerned with the desire to entrap its neighbors through artfully created domestic feuds so that India remains the dominating emperor to agree or veto any "friendly" forces that come to help and it is imperative that we do not forget at any point that there are no permanent friends but permanent interests and India's permanent interest is to ensure that Sri Lanka remains destable enough to eternally seek India's assistance. To its advantage has been the Tamil Nadu factor which helped create the theme of "ethnic" tension and have the entire world label our ailment as that – it became easier by external players in the form of NGOs/INGOs whose sins are now coming to light with every area being liberated by the armed forces. Many of these NGOs must be shrinking with embarrassment as we see footage of their offices adorned with LTTE documents, LTTE portraits of leaders, and LTTE propaganda – a single school, a single house,....for the ordinary poor Tamils….none whatsoever. Those journalists who have continuously claimed not to have been allowed into the war zones, now being taken on military helicopters can see for themselves. Yet, reports being relayed have a common agenda – blaming the Government for all civilian injuries and quoting the Government on LTTE accusations – this has been the hallmark of most of the foreign media reporting on Sri Lanka thus far.

A UN spokesman in one of the daily newspaper reported that they are "unable to ascertain" the number of civilians being released – this seems rather odd, if they can’t give the small number of casualties that they are treating how possibly can they quote civilians trapped as 400,000? But, we see u-turns too…The UK arresting LTTE heads, US too stepping up their anti-LTTE operations…. The army commander has been described as one of the best commanders in the world, the armed forces declared one of the finest in modern day and much of the successes has been by and large purely due to empowering and proper leadership and mastering the art of warfare …. How much a motivated armed force, an empowered military leadership and equipment to back plus a Government that refuses to cow down to pressures has shown and a defense secretary that has put all previous ones to shame. The LTTE terrorist group was projected as being invisible, its leaders allowed to under the pretext of "ethnic liberation" conduct programs even in countries that had banned them. Even diplomatic appeals fell on deaf ears. The movement has now been shrunk down to size from 15,000 sq.km to now fighting to save less than 300sq.km. The world refused to see or put things in the real perspective.

Despite enough and more examples of LTTE atrocities it was allowed to procure arms, travel freely, collect money even a widowed Sonia Gandhi aligned with the very Chief Minister whose name came up in the Jain Commission report for close links with the LTTE and its leader accused for the assassination of her husband. Even now, the journeys that the Indian Foreign Minister, Indian Foreign Secretary make to Sri Lanka are purely as a result of the threats by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister to withdraw support to the UPF Government and have nothing to do with the welfare of the Tamil people. It makes some wonder at times when calculating the deaths of LTTE cadres whether some of these young men are actually mercenaries from Tamil Nadu & not Sri Lankan Tamils at all. How many have actually thought of this possibility since the Palk Strait is just 22 miles and we know very well of clandestine operations of smuggling that has taken place for centuries as well as how Velvititurai Tamils are famous for their dual lifestyles of which Prabakaran is just one of many non state players.

One of the puzzling scenarios has been Presidential election of 2005 where it is greatly believed that Prabakaran's decision to boycott the election allowed Rajapakse to come into power. It is common knowledge that Wickremasinghe carries a soft corner for the LTTE clearly seen in the manner he cared not to secure the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka, the reason why President Chandrika eventually took over – thus it is better to assume that the boycott was just the beginning of Prabakaran's downfall having held a country for over 25 years using brainwashed killer cadres.

Sri Lanka will be celebrating 61 years of Independence this year – almost half of this number is marked with bloodshed caused by an external force in the form of India and its creation in the form of the LTTE. The LTTE has killed 4400 civilians (from 1983 to date) alone to this list must include deaths of 27 foreigners. The first in May 1986 with the bombing of an Air Lanka Flight which killed 2 British, 2 Germans, 3 French, 2 Japanese, 1 Maldivian and 1 Pakistani & then the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 killing 14 Indians.

In summary the damage both India and LTTE have caused is immense. For strategic geopolitical advantage Sri Lanka suffered greatly. Our forefathers will relish the times that both communities lived happily and without malice. Today, the continued misinformation of "ethnic" strife by foreign and some local media serve to only create and sustain divisions. The LTTE has been given a 48hour breather – its spokesman claims that the civilians amongst them desire not to enter Government controlled areas – if this be so, it leaves little choice for the armed forces and those who enjoy placating the Government and the armed forces over even a single death may well have to steer courage to blame the LTTE in the eventuality of what is likely to occur –but the LTTE cannot claim that they have not been given enough and more chances.

We do not require media coverage to see the amount of hope that prevails throughout the country – the sales of Lion flags alone suffices to say that Sri Lanka without the assistance of foreign consultants hope for firstly the complete elimination of the LTTE and to rebuild the 30 years of life that the LTTE and all those parties who benefited from the war selfishly enjoyed. Prabakaran is soon likely to join the thousands of others that he silenced & that will be trial enough.

- Asian Tribune -

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