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The moment of truth for India on LTTE

If the Sinhala majority really wanted to rid the island of the LTTE, then they should force their government to unilaterally announce the adoption of a quasi-federal Constitution, much like India’s, to replace the present unitary one. Then India can without reservation help the Sri Lankans to combat the LTTE. But India cannot wait around for the Sinhalese to make up their minds.

by Subramanian Swamy

(June 13, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) India’s policy towards the internationally proclaimed terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) now requires to be sharply defined before it is too late. Now is the moment of truth for clarity and transparency. Otherwise one more neighbour will float into the US sphere of influence.

At present there is confusion in India’s approach to Sri Lanka because of a hidden compulsion of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. Notice that May 21, the unfortunate anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, passed by last week without a single Congress leader demanding the avenging of his death or the extradition of the prime culprit—LTTE supremo V Prabhakaran. Even the four LTTE-DK activists sentenced to death on May 12, 1999 by the Supreme Court have yet to be hanged for involvement in the dastardly act because of an inexplicable letter from Sonia Gandhi to the President of India pleading clemency for the four.

The confusion is manifested in the following contradiction: On the one hand, the Indian government has banned the LTTE ( by Narasimha Rao) as a terrorist organisation because of its murderous activities, including the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, yet on the other hand, despite the continuing assassinations by the LTTE of pro-Indian Sri Lankan politicians and its open interference within India by financing pro-LTTE politicians and training terrorist organisations, the Indian government supports the “peace process” of the Sri Lanka government with the LTTE, i.e., talks that could end up legitimising the same terrorist outfit and making the ban meaningless.

Although the LTTE has officially denied any involvement in the assassinations, such a denial cannot be taken seriously because the LTTE has always denied its involvement in any terrorist activity, including murder, arson, extortion and drug trafficking. The LTTE for example denied any part in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. However, the Supreme Court of India in its 400-page judgment delivered on May 12, 1999 and re-affirmed on review on October 5, 1999 has laid bare what a huge blatant lie that is.

However India cannot formulate a policy on LTTE with the Sri Lanka government as an active partner. If India is presently confused due to some mysterious compulsion, the Sri Lanka government suffers from delusion. For example, despite the murder of their Foreign Minister Kadirgamar and the attempted murder of their then President Chandrika by the LTTE, the Sri Lankan authorities are suffering from the “Stockholm Syndrome” of capitulating to their tormentors by agreeing to talk with them at a moment’s notice, and are thus unable to deal with the murderous LTTE. The Sri Lanka President’s first reaction after the murder of Foreign Minister Kadirgamar (a Tamil) was that the island government would not suspend the so-called peace talks with the killers, a further indication of the same tragic syndrome that seems to petrify them.

Sri Lanka thus seems a crumbling failed state that has lost its collective nerve to combat and confront terror of the LTTE.

If the Sinhala majority really wanted to rid the island of the LTTE, then they should force their government to unilaterally announce the adoption of a quasi-federal Constitution, much like India’s, to replace the present unitary one. Then India can without reservation help the Sri Lankans to combat the LTTE. But India cannot wait around for the Sinhalese to make up their minds.

Hence, Indians have to take stock now and decide what to do to remove the fault line in India’s policy towards the LTTE, and thus secure national interests in its geographical neighbourhood. There is no time to lose.

India has had a close call because the LTTE could have been legitimised by now by the Sri Lanka government aided by an inane Norwegian facilitation and the initiatives of the busy body Japanese. Both sought to placate the LTTE and got egg on their face. Such Chamberlainian surrender if it had come to pass, would have been a disaster not only for Sri Lanka’s integrity, but more importantly for India’s national security because of that outfit’s links with India’s terrorists such as Naxalites and ULFA, and with ISI of Pakistan and even Al Qaeda (which now has established camps in Chittagong, Bangladesh) as well as with separatist Indian political parties such as Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Dalit Panther and Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), not mention 38 paramilitary terrorists outfits roaming the forest areas of Tamil Nadu.

But India has escaped that, because of the LTTE’s hubris and the consequent ire of the US. Hence, the EU has been now forced to issue a diktat to member-nations to ban the LTTE as a terrorist outfit and freeze their fund extortion activities in Europe. The LTTE is now in a Catch-22 situation—go to war and be eliminated by superior international force or climb down and be discredited. There is no third way. India has been gifted time to set her policy in consistent shape—which necessarily has to be anti-LTTE if for nothing else than for the unforgivable perfidy of killing India’s former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Even if Rajiv Gandhi’s widow and the Congress party (of which he was President) for some obscure compulsion show scant interest today in bringing to book the LTTE’s supremo Velupillai Pirabhakaran for this crime against the nation, patriotic Indians cannot forget Rajiv Gandhi’s martyrdom nor LTTE’s treachery. India has to fix Pirabhakaran someday by bringing him to justice or otherwise justice to him, for his lack of respect for India’s sovereignty that the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi represents.

Thus, India has a national security imperative and an unavoidable moral obligation to get involved to free the island of Sri Lanka of the LTTE’s brutal terror, if for nothing else but to secure her own environment and punish those seek to overawe India’s people with terror.
I thus see five specific reasons why India has this obligation:

First, India had trained the LTTE in 1980s and created the Frankenstein monster. Hence, India has to atone for it by actions to disband and unravel the LTTE.

Second, despite enjoying India’s hospitality for years, and after welcoming the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement in 1987, the LTTE betrayed India by killing more than a thousand Indian army personnel of the India Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) sent to the island to enforce the said agreement. The betrayal and loss of lives of India’s valiant jawans have to be avenged to keep up the morale of the Indian armed forces.

Third, as the Home Ministry 2005 Annual Report to Parliament states, LTTE has been targeting pro-Indian Sri Lanka politicians and assassinating them. For the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, an Indian trial court has declared accused number one Prabhakaran as a proclaimed offender, and the Interpol has issued a Red Corner Notice for apprehending him. India is thus obligated to search for Prabhakaran and to teach the LTTE a lesson in a language they will understand, and to immobilise them enough to deter them in the future from engaging in any murderous and terrorist activities against India and Indian interests.

Fourth, the LTTE interferes in the internal affairs of India by financing stooge Indian political parties, in providing training to Indian militant and extremist organisations, and had extended insurgency infrastructure to bandits such as Veerappan and his forest gang. It also launders black money of Indian politicians through its illegal Eelam Bank in the Jaffna area. India cannot allow such erosion of law and order within its own borders.

Fifth, the LTTE is a part of the international terror network of Al Qaeda and is aided by ISI of Pakistan to smuggle narcotics into India, circulate fake currency notes to buy medicines and diesel, to smuggle antiques, and engage in passport fabrication, and hawala operations.

The question thus is: To discharge these obligations what should India do? Obviously it cannot depend on the Sri Lanka governments of today or near future to help bring the LTTE to book. Sri Lankan political parties are either capitulationist or chauvinist. President Rajapaksha agreement with JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or People's Liberation Front) is that they will defend the present failed unitary constitution. This shows that the Tamils are squeezed between the devil (LTTE) and the deep sea (Sinhala chauvinists). Hence India has to initiate action to meet its own obligations, and can expect no worthwhile cooperation from the Sinhala parties.

The first move India should make is to initiate action and steps to revive the hunt for those of the LTTE who have to be booked and prosecuted under Indian law. This includes the LTTE supremo Prabhakaran and his sidekick Pottu Amman, and whoever else has tried to help them to escape the arm of India’s law enforcement.

In 1998, the Parliament had set up under the CBI a multidisciplinary monitoring agency (MDMA) to hunt for these wanted persons. But the National Democratic Alliance government waffled after it was set up and failed to pursue the matter. The present UPA government has been worse on this issue. It has been wobbling on the question of extradition of Prabhakaran. When Sri Lanka President Chandrika had come to India, India agreed to let the LTTE to be a party in the Tsunami relief work and have its share in the $3 billion international aid commitment. It was only after the US declined to provide the funds, if LTTE was involved, that Chandrika was stopped from disbursing the money through the LTTE.

Time is now at hand to energise the MDMA to get moving to apprehend the wanted criminals and bring them to book. For this India may have to dispatch a squad of commando force to Jaffna, a force that India has trained in Israel since 1994 in batches. Helicopter gunships covered and GPS-satellite guided, these commando squads can easily locate where Prabhakaran would be hiding and smoke him out. UN Resolutions empower India to do so—the right of hot pursuit of terrorists.

Second, India must assist and nurture the democratic elements in the Sri Lankan Tamil population, those that have demonstrated capacity to stand up to the LTTE such as SC Chandrahasan, and breakaway LTTE group that had opposed Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, viz., the Karuna group, among others, to form a non-violent and democratic alternative to work out with the Sinhala majority the federal constitution that would serve the purpose of power-sharing.

Third, there are LTTE sleeper cells in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and other cities of Indian stooges of the LTTE in political parties, media and government, who have to be identified and imprisoned under a new anti-terrorist law. These cells work under anonymity to sabotage any patriotic effort made to nail the LTTE. At present, terrorists of various hues are active in 29 of the 35 states and union territories of India. The common link of all these terrorists is the LTTE-ISI nexus because Jaffna is close by and Pakistan and Bangladesh (and soon Nepal) are sanctuaries for all these terrorists. Hence one day all of sudden these terrorists and LTTE sleeper cells may coordinate and cause a huge bloody incident by which India’s recent international fame in reforms, fast growth, and IT development could all go up in smoke. We have guard against such contingencies by pre-emptive action.

Time is at hand for India to effectively contribute to the war against terrorism and in promotion of democracy by targeting the LTTE sincerely and effectively in the larger national interest of security and national integrity. There is today a window of opportunity due to international consensus against the LTTE, and we must seize it now. LTTE’s hubris and being caught in a cleft stick gives India the opening for it.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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