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Twist in tale

(February 23, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) Kamikaze in exact translation from Japanese means ‘divine wind’. But World War II gave it a new chilling meaning as marauding Japanese aircraft flyers rammed into Allied Forces target in suicidal desperation.

The militants of the LTTE may not have much sense of history, but they reprised the reckless kamikaze spirit yesterday in the air raid they carried out over Colombo.

Two men from their elite ‘Black Air Tiger’ suicide squad piloted the two light aircraft into Lanka’s air force facilities in the heart of its capital as well as the main airbase adjoining the country’s only international airport located about 35 kilometres north of Colombo.

One of the Tiger aircraft was shot down just within the perimeter of the airport complex while the other crashed into a 16-storey tax office located close to the air force headquarters in Colombo. In their suicidal mission, two people on ground were killed and 58 wounded.

Both the Tamileelam Air Force pilots have earlier been decorated with Blue Tiger award for having carried out successful air raids on enemy targets, the LTTE has said.

The sensational air raid is a major embarrassment for the Sri Lankan forces as they had crowing that the LTTE was at the end of its tether and end of their fight was nigh. The late night strikes in Colombo also confirms why Lanka never trusts any offer for peace talks by the Tigers.

The LTTE, which has been a banned terrorist organisation in many places including India, is a tough customer and its strength stems from its ability to catch its victims unawares. It is a fighting-fit unit and goes into silence or inactiveness only when it has to regroup.

This is something that successive governments have learnt to their own peril over a period of time. But with the screws being tightened over its various activities (including narco-terrorism, in which it is a pioneer), the LTTE is increasingly flustered. It no longer can strike at will.

Yesterday’s attack carried a ring of extreme frustration. It seemed to be an attack that was as much aimed at proving a point to the Lankan administration as it was in convincing itself that it still can create terror with conviction.

There were no larger implications to the air raids, except expose the inadequacy of the Lankan bulwark. There is no strategic advantage to be gained.

That the LTTE has continuously managed to target Lanka’s strategic bases doesn’t speak well of the defence phalanx that the Rajapakse government has put in place. The Lankan defence mechanism is far from being perfect and it doesn’t take much to get past it.

The fact that LTTE’s has managed to keep its nascent air wing in operation should be hard to swallow for the Lankan administration, which it should be said has failed on both counts —— of either convincingly talk peace or military finish off the rebels.

The thing with the LTTE is that it has a lot of resilience, and the air wing is a proof of that extreme determinedness. With the help of some sly ally, who had shipped armaments and parts for putting in place aircraft and other air force equipment, the LTTE has kept its foes totally challenged.

At a time when its supply line is under extreme strain and its men on the run, such air raids must help its dwindling ranks motivated and their dreams thereof alive. What the air raid also confirm is that the peace in the island nation is a chimera, an utopia of impossibility.

The two sides can never get to reconcile with the other. The Lankan administration, by its vengeful and violent highhandedness, sparked off the vengeful imbroglio. The LTTE and other outfits were created out of state-sponsored genocide in the late 70s and 80s.

And now when the administration is caught inextricably in the loopy lanes of an internecine battle, there is no escape for it. The LTTE, by all analysis, has become a bellicose bandwagon and peace is not in its DNA.

This is a lesson for India, and any idea of involvement in Lanka owing to the pressure groups in Tamilnadu, will be uncalled for. IPKF, 1984 and those sad lessons are bad enough. Our sympathies are due for the plight of Tamils. But little else can be expected from India.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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