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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

India should give optional citizenship rights to Sri Lankan Tamils

By Shenali Waduge

Whether Sri Lanka likes it or not India remains a menacing presence in the South Asian region. With just 22miles separating the two nations from the Palk Strait, history will tell that relations have never been without traces of discontent on either side. The situation presently has been made precarious by South Indian politicians who are using Sri Lanka as a pedestal to advance their political campaigns and secure broader handouts from India’s Central Government. Using Sri Lanka as a domestic “football” in Indian politics is not done and cannot go on forever.

It is obvious that “some” Sri Lankan Tamils including “some” Sri Lankan Tamil politicians are of the opinion that India is the sole answer to the “problems” of the Sri Lankan Tamils. In a scenario where we have South Indian politicians thinking that it is their “duty” to “protect” the Sri Lankan Tamils and some Sri Lankan Tamils who feel that “only” India can provide them “security” it would make perfect sense for the GOSL and India to seek a census and for India to provide citizenship to “these” Sri Lankan Tamils in India.

The suggestion makes perfect sense considering the present scenario where some politicos are raising a ruckus in Tamil Nadu. Should we in Sri Lanka take these hunger strikes, burning Sri Lankan effigies, destroying public transport etc seriously…? Ideally, not very seriously as the theatrics of Tamil Nadu politicos are all part and parcel of pre-election drama in Tamil Nadu. With elections over it would be very interesting to see if these raptures continue… my assertion…most unlikely and Tamil Nadu would have forgotten about the Sri Lankan Tamils and their “supposed plight” but most importantly why have none of these Indian politicos exerted any pressure on the LTTE to RELEASE THE TAMIL CIVILIANS the LTTE is keeping as Human Shields? Though, Sri Lanka can take these theatrics lightly India’s Central Government cannot and thus Sri Lanka ends up landing base for appeasement and to welcome Prime Ministerial delegates, Foreign Envoys, Indian Foreign Secretary and when things really heatts up incidents like sending food convoys or political demarches take place. To the politicos that bewail the plight of Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka it is prudent to ask how they derive at their conclusions. Have any of them been to Sri Lanka, have any of them seen what any part of our country is like, have any of them actually compared life in Sri Lanka to that in Tamil Nadu? Once again the answer would be a negative. Then why all the fuss even giving up their portfolios for things that happen in another country – which once again we return to a single answer – Elections… and we know that elections in India are just round the corner thus the stepped up pressure upon the Congress Government by its coalition partners in Tamil Nadu using the bait of Sri Lanka’s Tamils.

The deterrent for Sri Lanka here is the echoes of bygone days, times where Sri Lanka earned India’s wrath for assuming its territorial sovereignty much to the chagrin of India. The first was overstepping India’s demands by allowing Pakistan to refuel in Sri Lanka’s air & seaports during the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Second was to allow Israel to undertake intelligence training & third was the establishment of the Voice of America installation in Sri Lanka, then the election of J R Jayawardena who immediately embarked upon an open economic development drive and finally the move to allow the US to take over the oil storage facility in Trincomalee. Had any of the above occurred in the present context where we now find India a close ally of the US, there may not have been a covert operation in Sri Lanka but Sri Lanka’s closeness to the US in the mid 70s resulted in an exasperated Indira Gandhi and eventually her ire upon Sri Lanka. Thus it was these “irritants” that resulted in the covert operation in Sri Lanka replicating Bangladesh and RAW was soon to exploit the divide and rule policy set up by the British and launch a program to arm, train and finance Tamil militants against Sri Lanka’s Government.

Be that as it may India is today a close ally of the US and India and Sri Lanka has taken great measures to ensure that our relationship with India has not been limited to diplomatic niceties. India cannot claim any “irritants” by Sri Lanka against India post-Jayawardena period, which baffles many as to why India should allow terrorists like the LTTE to dominate over Sri Lanka. If India disagrees to this accusation it may well ask itself why it continues to allow certain politicos of South India to attempt to bail out the LTTE without clearly sending a message that the LTTE is nothing but a terrorist organization and more so no Indian should speak or promote LTTE in India for the LTTE leader is on India’s MOST WANTED list for the murder of Indian premier Rajiv Gandhi. If we find fault with South India for supporting the LTTE what can we say of India’s Central Government for whisking off Prabakaran in a helicopter to India when he was cornered in Vadamarachchi in 1987. For saving a TERRORIST India had to pay heavily when a few years later its own former premier was blown to bits in Tamil Nadu and the Jain Commission highlighted Karunanidhi’s links to the LTTE as well as bring out RAWs connection to the LTTE. What India did & continues to do in Sri Lanka is exactly what India accuses the Pakistani Government of doing!

Thus, it is imperative that we understand that LTTE is not concerned about politics – it does not play politics, it is only interested in securing its strength by whatever means and it is only interested in its own agenda of destruction. Yet, we must understand the frolics taking place in Tamil Nadu amidst election frenzy and the manner in which Tamil Nadu politicos are competing with each other as to who the champion of Sri Lanka’s Tamils are – all seem to conveniently forget that India’s power lies within its territorial borders and coastal waters and certainly not in Sri Lanka.

If the 62million Tamils of Tamil Nadu, the real homeland of the Tamil people are so concerned of the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamils and if some Sri Lankan Tamils feel that Tamil Nadu provides better security than the GOSL it would be best to allow these people to obtain citizenship in India’s Tamil Nadu. The Indian Central Government should seriously consider this option but it is prudent to ask why over 700,000 Tamils live in Western nations or greener pastures than traveling 22miles to Tamil Nadu? The exodus of an ever increasing Tamil Diaspora in the West leaves little to the imagination to deduce that the LTTE has provided indirect inducements to the Tamil people who have found the conflict situation an ingenuous means to apply for “refugee” status and with time to escalate that to PR status. Forfeiting monthly “deductions” to the LTTE kitty becomes irrelevant in the larger scheme of things. It is also interesting how it is those living outside Sri Lanka who are so concerned about creating an EElaam State while those living in Sri Lanka would prefer better infrastructure, educational facilities and employment. All the propaganda being diverted towards projecting the Sinhalese as “discriminating” the Tamils has never been translated to developing the lifestyles or economic status of the poor Tamils in the North, especially those in the Wanni …most of these poor Tamils end up being kidnapped by LTTE and transformed into child soldiers, suicide bombers and killer machines…for those who wish to remain in the West until their PR status is secured keeping these Tamils confined to their poor economic status makes perfect sense – their plight making perfect propaganda material to depict what the GOSL is denying when actually it is the reverse.

Who are these Tamil Nadu supporters of the “Sri Lankan Tamils” or should we really say LTTE? There are many names and the list makes up more than the open supporters of LTTE in Sri Lanka. Starting off with the Chief Minister Karunanidhi, his daughter Kanimozhi, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Thirumayalayan, PMK leader Dr. S. Ramadoss, N Veerasamy, M K Stalin (son of Karunanidhi’s 2nd wife), Duraimurugan, Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazagham leader Vaiko, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazagham (DMDK) leader Vijaya Kanth and P. Nedumaran’s office has a huge photo of LTTE leader V. Prabakaran….we see a set of emerging Dravidist Tamil Nadu forces taking up the cudgel of Tamil separatism that had thus far been “outsourced” to LTTE terrorists. The warning voices coming from Jayalalitha and Subramanium Swamy are likely to fall upon deaf ears if India’s Central Government too continue to prefer playing bully over Sri Lanka instead of watching rising tidal waves of separatism in its own quarters – India’s RAW may take pride in its destabilizing operations of the South Asian nations but India’s internal intelligence should be alert of the repercussions….LTTE links to Naxalites, LTTE links to Al Qaeda…are not fabrications.

With the LTTE’s terrorist domain shrinking rapidly and the Tamil populace in general showing greater courage in openly denouncing the LTTE we can once again only advise India to be apprehensive.….India should not forget that lying beneath the façade of concern for Sri Lankan Tamils is a greater desire for a separate Tamil Homeland and its headquarters is earmarked to be in South India’s Tamil Nadu and not Sri Lanka’s North. The inspiration that bonds the South Indian politicos who are not devoid of attempting to oust one another is their united grievance against Brahmin-ruled Indian Central Government. India may arrogantly ignore warnings but Sri Lanka does not wish to see what happened in Sri Lanka to take place in India whatever harm India has done to this nation.

In the present context of South Indian politicos continuously interfering in Sri Lanka’s affairs using the Sri Lankan Tamil issue it would possibly make sense to offer Sri Lankan Tamils the opportunity to make India its home…which would end all the cross currents taking place. In all likelihood those who are likely to take up this offer will be those who nurture “Tamil separatist” thoughts above any desire to live peacefully in diversity. It would be wise perhaps to put the question to the Sri Lankan Tamil people and to ask them directly what they would desire.

- Asian Tribune -

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