Eelam Goal - More Than One-Way to Skin a Cat!

by I. P. C. Mendis

(August 12, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Velupillai Prabhakaran made no bones about where he stood when he asked his followers to kill him if he were to betray the cause of Eelam. He is no chicken-hearted person to backtrack on that. Ranil W. who gave him all the international exposure on a platter via the Wanni media conference (which he could have not achieved on his own even if he was prepared to spend millions), had egg on his face when Anton Balasingham declared pompously that Ranil W was Prime Minister of the South and Prabhakaran was Prime Minister of the North-East.

Such was the arrogance, the bravado and the cheek of the man who was so sure of himself -worst of all the contempt with which he and his gang of bloated terrorist kinsmen had for the lawful government of Sri Lanka at the time ( and mind you, the host ) which was bending over backwards to appease the marauding Tiger. While the UNP of which Ranil himself was an important Minister doled out arms, ammunition, funds etc to fight the IPKF, Ranil W as Prime Minister did one better in demarcating areas under the CFA cleared in its terms, rhyme and substance by the hawky mischief-makers in Oslo who themselves had and still have their own agendas for oil, fishing, natural resources and the prospects of the economic zone as manifested by the secretive Agreement between NORPEC and the UNF government. Their covert operations carried out through their agencies here, as have since transpired, can no longer be cubby-held in the "suspect" category but be evidentially substantiated –not to speak of mis-use of diplomatic privileges.

They played merry hell with an impotent government in power and Prabhakaran very skillfully took the bull by the horns in terrorising the government and the people, not excluding his own community commencing with lamp-post killings, and graduating towards elimination of important political and other personages. Indeed, he was Hercules born again with an image, which his opponents themselves helped him to build as an "Incredible Hulk"! With that, he naturally padded himself with his own ambitions which were not restricted to being satisfied as the self-appointed Prime Minister of the North/East but the whole of Sri Lanka and who knows – with the eyes of the ‘Sun-God’ focused on future possibilities in Tamil Nadu. A man with such a history, ego and declared intentions, is not going to easily settle for much less in the form of the Thirteenth Amendment, which he knows too well was forced down his throat by Rajiv Gandhi who eventually made the supreme sacrifice for his efforts at the hands of Prabhakaran himself. Indeed, if he does back-track by force of circumstances (extremely unlikely) it would certainly be on the popular theory that the man who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.

Prabhakaran vs. Karuna

The peace-niks in political parties, INGOs NGOs, and Ranil W’s spokesmen were gleefully receiving the news of Karuna’s arrest in Britain on a charge of possession of a forged passport. They demanded that Karuna be tried in UK for war crimes as well and genocide. By then, the government had struck a deal with the Karuna faction to fight the common enemy in the LTTE and to establish democracy in the Eastern Province. Now these do-gooders who were demanding Karuna’s head were the very same blessed peace-makers who had been advocating a negotiated settlement with Prabhakaran, which obviously did not envisage him being tried for mass murder and war crimes. They were prepared to accept Mr. Prabhakaran, the gentleman in his new role though he would have been the most qualified to be tried. The Tamil community with the Muslims, the Sinhalese, and the Burghers would have been at in his complete mercy in such a situation very much like a fox reigning supreme in a chicken cage. There would have been no liberation of the kind now found in the Eastern Province. Prabhakaran is not that naive to be satisfied with the North only in any case. The CFA, which formed the nucleus of a negotiated settlement, certainly did not envisage an administration

Eelam Goal

in the North/East devoid of Prabhakaran. The Ranil government’s appeasement policy saw thousands of violations of the CFA by the LTTE, annexations of controlled areas with conduct giving a clear message of Prabhakaran’s intentions; but the "peace at any cost" philosophy and the "unwinnable war" slogan taken together with the armed forces confined to barracks, ill-equipped and morally devastated considered in tandem with the superior media blitz of the Tiger Movement, made the Sri Lanka government a virtual sitting duck in the journey to Eelam. Indeed, whatever weaknesses the present government is charged with, the entry of President Mahinda Rajapaksa changed the whole scenario where Prabhakaran has been made to realise the wisdom of Robert Burns’s thought, "The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley." Prabhakaran who gruesomely eliminated Rajiv Gandhi for his role in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of which the Thirteenth Amendment is part and parcel would have not surely been at ease and at peace with himself even if he were to decide to condescend accepting the recent invitation of Minister Laxman Yapa Abeyewardene to be the Chief Minister of the North. This offer is in direct conflict with the government’s stand that Prabhakaran will be handed over to the Indian government if he were to be captured alive. The likes of Laxman Yapa Abeyewardene need to think before they shoot their mouths off or put both feet in them when they open.

Thirteenth Amendment

It is now decided policy of the present government to implement the Thirteenth Amendment as an interim solution to the ethnic issue. Maximum devolution is envisaged and the proposal filtered through the APRC although it is common knowledge it came as a directive by the President. Indeed, if it were not an interim measure, the APRC would have been dissolved. It is still alive. The main issue now is the extent of devolution in respect of Land, Land Settlement and Law and Order, to wit Police powers. In the meantime, the Indian government is reportedly pressurizing the government for the full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Due to its fragile nature, the existing Indian government seems to be blowing hot and cold in the context of varying demands from Tamil Nadu. Even in the recent demand for the re-take of Katchchativu, it has failed to take a positive stand so far and say that once ceded there is no going back on an Agreement signed, sealed, and delivered. Despite Commonwealth, SAARC, UN, Law on International Covenants and neighbourly cultural and other ties, India unfortunately has to be viewed with suspicion despite who is in the saddle. Sri Lanka is suffering today precisely due to its hegemony and interference, JRJ’s mis-handling apart. If it had any love for Sri Lanka, it would not have commenced the Sethi Samudra project, which has been temporarily shelved due to internal reasons. With powerful countries, commercial and other interests take precedence over interests and stability of other nations.

Land, Land Settlement, Law, and Order are extremely sensitive areas, which could upset and overturn the balance of power, potentially dangerous and self-destructive. It has to done, if at all, with great circumspection, judiciously, carefully, and in stages after extreme monitoring of the conduct, behaviour and due examination of the spirit, intentions, and bona fides of the political outfits in charge of the administration of the two provinces. Even then, safeguards such as the provision for dissolution as is available in the Indian Constitution in its State structure, needs to be invariably available with the Central Govt. just in case there were to be an impending threat to the security of the State or abuse of power. The Indian government cannot object to it .One has to be mindful of the fact that the hub of the irrigation and power network is very much within the Eastern Province as it is in the Central Province with large tracts of land available for settlement in common as against complete colonisation of one community or another. The Karuna faction via Chandrakanthan has taken over the Eastern Provincial Council. It is too early for them or the Indian government to demand full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. They are on probation. They have to be watched over a number of years and it will also take that much time for them to effectively disarm in the face of continuing threats from the LTTE. The time for them to disarm has to be worked in tandem with the dis-arming of the LTTE and other para-military groups, including those supporting the government. And, that obviously cannot happen unless and until the LTTE as well as other splinter groups which are bound to emerge, are neutralized.
Sri Lanka cannot afford to proceed with blinkers on in agreeing to the full implementation of the Amendment to the East without the same being extended to the North as well. And, that seems to be a dangerous prospect with the LTTE’s influence in the North, overtly and covertly exercised which prospect, let’s face it, is not capable of being completely eliminated with any degree of certainty. And what of the other provinces? The political interference and the influence in these provinces in their extension of the powers usurped from the Central Government makes it disturbingly impossible for these provinces to be entrusted with the said extended powers to be administered with equanimity, equity, fair-play and justice. That is unfortunately the sad experience. Law and Order is already in a shambles without it and the impotency of government to remedy it begs the question as to its competency to control effectively the North and East once such powers are devolved. Most public officers are falling over each other to satisfy political bosses or made to do so under duress. Justice is sadly a prime victim. Judges themselves are not spared (Ambepitiya). The Courts have eventually been the last refuge for redress but how many have the time and the wherewithal to seek legal remedy? They suffer in silence.
Leave Prabhakaran and Chandrakanthan alone – aren’t the other provinces behaving as if the territories have been ceded by the Central Government notwithstanding Governors having been vested with executive powers under the Amendment. How many have been bold to exercise such powers for good governance. Aren’t some Governors themselves prisoners of the system and aren’t some of them found occasionally at Lipton’s Circus or opposite the Fort Railway Station in garrulous slogan-shouting or distributing leaflets? Isn’t the Colombo Municipal Council with the "Kannadi clique" in charge a law unto themselves carrying on regardless without the slightest threat of dissolution by the Central Govt. One of its members who is much interested in public interest legislation has opposed the dissolution of the corrupt regime, it is reported. Indeed, when there was a threat of dissolution of the Western Provincial Council, the UNP and JVP staged a Satyagraha against the proposal despite their rebelling within it against the Chief Minister. So, it is a hodge podge of conflicting ideologies, political or self interests, and complicity in a merry-go-round of everything other than national interests.
In this melee, a crafty Chandrakanthan or Prabhakaran can easily maneuver his way through in re-arming and strengthening their Movements with a view to eventually seceding without a shot being fired. Indeed, there is more than one way of skinning a cat! There are no permanent friends or permanent enemies – only permanent interests. Chandrakanthan and Prabhakaran can well be "Aiyas" once again. Who knows! The North and East will not be liberated for the Tamil community and the country at large at such cost of men, material, funds, and civilian losses if the territories are handed back to those who created havoc to play ducks and drakes under full implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment without adequate stringent safeguards. Rajiv Gandhi, the ethnically cleansed people, the innocent civilians, and most of all the valiant soldiers and policemen who fought and died would have died in vain otherwise.
- Sri Lanka Guardian