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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2789

Sri Lanka War Comes To India

By Vinod Vedi - Syndicate Features

The Government of India cannot in any way allow itself to be seen to be rushing to the rescue of LTTE supremo Vellupalli Prabhakaran as Sri Lanka troops close in on his stronghold in Kilinochchi. The fulminations of MDMK chief Vaiko and his deputy to lead armed supporters into Sri Lanka has landed them in jail on sedition and anti-national activities charges.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee's categorical rejection of withdrawal of non-lethal military support to the Sri Lankan armed forces has set the record straight that India will do nothing to reduce the momentum (an important ingredient in warfare) of the Sri Lanka armed forces in their attacks on Prabhakaran bunkers in Kilinochchi. India has no love lost for the man and the organization that has brought so much grief on the people of Tamil origin by his suicide bombing tactics to try and carve out a separate homeland instead of seeking honourable accommodation within a unified political entity.

India has rightly made it clear to the Government of Sri Lanka that it is its responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the lakhs if internally displaced Tamil people in both the former East segment of the proposed Eelam around Batticaloa as well as the north wing where Prabhakaran is currently hiding. Such a formulation leaves room for New Delhi to provide humanitarian aid in camps to be opened and maintained by the Sri Lanka government.

On the face of it this is a tall order because the Sri Lankan Government has shown little inclination to reduce the hardships of the Tamil population in the "east wing" even after the segment has been neutralized of LTTE influence and provincial elections have been held to illustrate a "return to normalcy". Very little has been done to ameliorate the condition of the internally displaced Tamil persons who are suffering in their thousands for being deprived of their means of livelihood and sustenance by the war and its collateral devastation.

The Tamils in the north are in the process of being dispossessed of their homes, livelihood and sustenance as the armed forces are moving inexorably towards the Prabhakaran stronghold. On the way there they have managed to neutralize the LTTE chief of intelligence and several of its political commissars and military brass. Prabhakaran needs to stop the Sri Lanka troops in their tracks so as to be able to regroup and resuscitate his war machine. The potent "Sea Tiger" base has been overrun in the north thereby reducing his ability to keep the sea lanes of communications to build up replenishments and buy time.

Prabhakaran finds valuable support among a section of politicians in Tamil Nadu; personages like Vaiko have earlier proved to be valuable allies and his outfit manages to find clandestine routes for passage of contraband across the Palk Strait. However, the stationing of more surface ships and aircraft to patrol the area by the Indian Coast Guard, ‘excursions’ from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka have been very largely curtailed. Notwithstanding his fiery rhetoric, it is unlikely that Vaiko can lead an armed body of men very far into the Palk Strait let alone land in Sri Lanka and rush to the aid of the beleaguered Prabhakaran.

So far as the fate of Prabhakaran and the LTTE is concerned, strategic thinkers are apparently convinced that a defeated and decapitated LTTE could be the best thing to happen to the Tamil community of Sri Lanka. This is evident in the measured tone of pronouncements in New Delhi that it is the responsibility of the Sri Lanka Government to provide succour to the people of Tamil origin which emphasizes the fact that they are Sri Lanka citizens and it is the responsibility of the government there to provide the basics of human rights to its people.

Conversely, any attempt to pander to the political tactics of Tamil Nadu politicians would, as pointed out by External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, seriously jeopardize Indian security interests in the region. For one, Pakistan's involvement in shoring up the Sri Lankan offensive military capability is fraught with the danger of an induction of Islamic jehadis to fight alongside Sri Lankan government troops.

Prabhakaran emerged as the sole representative of the people of Tamil origin on the island by the simple method of murdering all political opponents. His absence from the scene would facilitate the re-emergence of moderate Tamil leaders who will be amenable to a more achievable goal of larger autonomy within a unified Sri Lanka.

- Asian Tribune -

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