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The Role Of India In Sri Lankan Ethnic Issue

“The Sri Lankan ethnic problem is now over fifty years old and still with no hopes of an early settlement. The adoption of Sinhala as the only Official Language of Sri Lanka, in violation of Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution, which was the main or rather the only provision for the safeguard of the minorities, can be taken as a landmark.”

by V.Anandasangaree

(November 15, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The resolutions unanimously passed at the Tamil Naad Assembly demanding the Central Government to pressurize the Sri Lankan Government to stop the war immediately and to start talks with the L.T.T.E. is shocking and totally unacceptable even to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. This will certainly cause a lot of embarrassment to the Government of India itself. It is a pity that the supporters of the motion had failed to realize that it won’t take much time for the Sri Lankan Parliament to pass a vote of censure against the un-warranted interference of the Tamil Naad Assembly.

It is very unfortunate that the Tamil Naad Government had taken such a decision merely to please some hardliners who have their own agenda, which will soon prove detrimental to India’s own Sovereignty and integrity. Very soon those who supported these resolutions will deeply regret for being misled by a handful of extremists who know nothing about the Sri Lankan ethnic problem and merely acting on hearsay. I hope, based on the latest developments the Assembly will soon meet to reverse the decision. I insist on an all party delegation to visit Sri Lanka on a fact finding mission, since so far except Hon.P.Chithamparam who played the key role in negotiations more than 20 years back, only two others came from Tamil Naad, one of whom a Film Director who met Mr.Prabaharan and left. The other who is the Leader of a small party in Tamil Naad also left after having lunch with some TNA members of the Sri Lankan Parliament who were fraudulently elected by the L.T.T.E as their proxies.

We Sri Lankan Tamils very much welcome friendly advice and all other assistance from Tamil Naad to solve the ethnic problem. But if it is going to be misled by a handful of pro-L.T.T.E. Leaders who have their own agenda and act without foresight or proper under-standing and without adequate information, it will be a great boon to the Tamils of Sri Lanka, if only Tamil Naad will keep silent. With several thousands who managed to escape from the clutches of the L.T.T.E., much more than 50% of the Tamils live in peace and harmony in predominant Sinhala areas with the Sinhalese and Muslims. They live and work together, play and eat together and even own houses and buy new mansions. Although some of the inciting speeches made at various places in Tamil Naad recently caused a lost of embarrassment to the Tamils who live among the Sinhalese and Muslims and Caused irritation to the Sinhalese, yet people are living in peace and tranquility, in spite of the atrocious activities of the L.T.T.E. in these areas, that cause the deaths of many innocent people and destruction of property. Any action taken in Tamil Naad without being counterproductive should only help to solve the problem. The said resolutions passed at the Assembly contrary to helping to solve the problem will only help to aggravate it.

It is very unfortunate that the recent agitations, that included demonstrations, formation of human chain, hunger strikes, hartals by various organizations and trades, held at various Districts all over Tamil Naadu demanding the Central Government of India to intervene, contrary to the expectations, have become counter productive. By over doing things, the people of Tamil Naadu, misled by the inciting speeches of pro-LTTE Leaders from both Sri Lanka and India, have only made it impossible for the Government of India to act freely. Left alone, the Government can tackle it without offending any-body. Without realizing the adverse effects their action will have, two gentlemen who represent the LTTE and claim the LTTE as the Sole Representatives of the Tamil People of Sri Lanka, had thanked the participants when the hunger strike organized by the film stars in Chennai ended.

India as a mighty big nation and the world’s largest Democracy cannot just jump in to action, merely because pressure is coming from a powerful section of the population to intervene in the Sri Lankan issue. India must first of all, satisfy itself whether the demand coming from a section of the population is reasonable and justifies its intervention. Even if its intervention is justifiable, India can intervene only in an advisory capacity without being accused of interfering with the Sovereignty of the Sri Lankan Nation. India with its large intelligence net-work need not be told what and what is happening in Sri Lanka. Therefore one should understand that response of the Indian Government for the various representations made to it will be subjected to the Government’s own observations.

The Sri Lankan ethnic problem is now over fifty years old and still with no hopes of an early settlement. The adoption of Sinhala as the only Official Language of Sri Lanka, in violation of Section 29 of the Soulbury Constitution, which was the main or rather the only provision for the safeguard of the minorities, can be taken as a landmark. I am one of those who had lived in Sri Lanka through out this period and very well know, as to who and who had erred and how a Paradise on earth is lost. Recalling the bitter memories of the past will not help us to solve the problem. Let us face it as it is today. I am not acting as anybody’s agent nor as a stooge of anyone. What I say is truth and nothing but that truth and can be challenged by anyone who doubts my credibility.

The Leader of the Tamil National Alliance is also the Leader of the Parliamentary Group of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi and its President as well. He laments that he is disappointed with the manner in which India had handled the

problem by merely sending food to the displaced Tamil people. He should try to win the confidence of the Indian Authorities without misleading them with fabricated stories. There is no doubt that a lot of human rights violations are taking place both in the Government controlled areas and areas under the control of the L.T.T.E. Many people are involved in the violations in areas under the control of the Government. The TNA Leaders should tell the world as to what extent the L.T.T.E. is involved in such areas without putting the entire blame on the Government or on any Para-military group. They do not utter one word about the violations in the L.T.T.E. held areas. One of the very serious charges leveled against the Government by the L.T.T.E. and endorsed by the T.N.A. Parliamentarians, which had roused the feelings of the People of Tamil Naad, is that the Government is trying to annihilate the Tamil People. This is a fabrication of the L.T.T.E. which the T.N.A. is selling all over the world, and very successfully in Tamil Naad. The T.N.A. must prove it with facts and figures, without making wild allegations. It is also a duty of the T.N.A. to tell the world that most of the people trapped in Vanni had been driven into Kilinochchi from three other neighboring Districts, and are held under compulsion to be used as a human shield for the protection of the L.T.T.E..

I am not trying to find fault with the Leader of the T.N.A.Being a senior politician he should have acted with great caution in handling this sensitive issue. He had come into the scene very late and by the time he came in to the scene, the damage is already done. All sorts of accusations had been made, very irresponsibly, in Tamil Nadu against the Sri Lankan Government, incited by pro-LTTE elements, without realizing that ultimately it is with the Sri Lankan Government that matters will have to be sorted out, not by compulsion and only by persuasion. The enthusiasm generated had become so uncontrollable that it ended up with the most un-pleasant and unexpected threat of demanding a separate state of Tamil Nadu, which demand remained buried for over 50 years, now revived. This would have caused a lot of embarrassment to the Government of India which is now in a dilemma. This renewed demand will have to be nipped in the bud on one hand and the Sri Lankan problem dealt with extreme caution on the other. The Leader of the T.N.A. who should take the blame for this new development cannot find fault with the Indian Government. He can’t expect the Indian authorities to swallow whatever advice given by the TNA members. From the time the 22 TNA Members got elected to Parliament fraudulently with the help of the LTTE’s fire power, as the whole world knows, their credibility became questionable. They weakened themselves by accepting the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils and started functioning as proxies of the LTTE. In such a situation, they have lost their right to represent the Tamil people.

A new problem that had cropped up is the demand of the Tamil Naad Government to have the 2000 tons of aid to be distributed to the Internally Displaced Persons by the ICRC under the supervision of the Indian Embassy Officials. The Central Government had to concede to the demand of the Tamil Naad Government, deviating from the usual practice, under similar circumstances in the past. The Central Government had no option because the Tamil Naad’s demand itself is due to the pressure from others. In any case the demand of Tamil Naad is too petty and

certainly an insult to Sri Lanka and its people. It should not have been conceded to, under any circumstances. The T.N.A. Members of Parliament had failed in their duty to tell the Government of Tamil Naad that all these years, for more than a quarter of a century, it is the Sri Lankan Government that had been feeding the L.T.T.E. Leader, his family his cadre, and the people in the L.T.T.E. held areas. They must be honest enough to tell Tamil Naad that whenever a fresh stock arrived in Vanni, the L.T.T.E. took all what they wanted and also replaced their old stock with the new arrivals and passed on to the people, the balance. Let any T.N.A. member challenge this statement.

I have to come out with these facts since I feel ashamed of the demand of Tamil Naad. The Tsunami of 2004 left several thousands dead. People were starving and there had been instances in which old Sinhalese women had walked 8 to 10 miles with food parcels on their heads for the Tamil and Muslim victims whom they had never met. There is enough evidence to prove that the L.T.T.E. did not fail to claim more than what they were entitled to, out of the Tsunami Aid. Once before, following an attack by the L.T.T.E. on the ships taking food to Jaffna, two years back the ICRC refused to give escort. Some Sinhalese sailors took the risk and navigated the food ships to Jaffna. It is very unfortunate that no one from Tamil Naad ever bothered to come on a fact finding Mission, to see what is really happing in Sri Lanka. The two gentlemen mentioned in this letter were here on a pleasure trip.

Misled by the T.N.A. Members, Tamil Naad is exposing to grave risk its own people in particular and the whole of India in general. My repeated requests to Tamil Naad, not to allow the L.T.T.E. to create a “Jaffna” in Tamil Naad, had been totally ignored. If Tamil Naad fails to stop this trend, very soon it will have a training center for suicide bombers. I am sure history will record this, for Tamil Naad to regret deeply one day.

Apart from those who are directly involved in the war, I am perhaps the only one who could have given a proper briefing of the real situation in Sri Lanka. The fact that I was the Member of Parliament for Kilinochchi, is known to the Chief Minister of Tamil Naad. The war-clouds had now shifted there, with people of four districts trapped or driven into it by force and detained by the L.T.T.E. under compulsion, with no effort taken by the 6 million people across the sea, to liberate them. They are only applying pressure on the Sri Lankan Government virtually to protect the atrocious L.T.T.E. terrorists.

The Central Government of India and the State Government of Tamil Naad should now get together and free the people who are now trapped in areas under the control of the L.T.T.E. and allow them to get into areas where more than 80% of the Tamils live. They should also agree jointly to persuade the Sri Lankan Government to devolve power on Provincial Councils a kin to those devolved on various States in India. This is the only way peace can be brought to Sri Lanka.

( The Writer is a President of the T.U.L.F.)
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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