No room for complacency

Huge challenges lie ahead for Sri Lanka

(April 09, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sri Lankan army may claim that it has broken the back of the LTTE by wresting control of the north-eastern district of Mullaitivu which it says was the Tamil militant outfit’s “last bastion”, but until its leader Prabhakaran is capured dead or alive, there can be no finality about it. True, the Tamil Tigers are battered and on the run but Prabhakaran has the potential to re-build the once-awesome force if he is not tracked down. That despite the loss of thousands of cadres over the last 26 years, the LTTE supremo was able to motivate Tamil youth to fight for “Eelam” or independence is a measure of his rabble-rousing ability, his organising skills and the deeply embedded feeling among a sizable section of Sri Lanka’s Tamil minority that they had been wronged by the majority Sinhalese. It is reprehensible that he has chosen to use innocent Tamils as human shields as reports by independent observers indicate.

While President Rajapakse has shown grit in dealing with the LTTE, his regime’s responsibility does not end there. The challenges before him are manifold. The thousands of erstwhile LTTE sympathisers would need to be weaned away from the path of violence. This would require fairness in dealing with them. The Tamils who have lost their means of livelihood and their homes in the fratricidal war between the army and the LTTE are sorely in need of rehabilitation.

India has always stood for a united Sri Lanka. It must now ensure that the Tamils are not left high and dry. We have seen in the past how Lankan Tamils pour into South India when there is repression or instability in Sri Lanka. India, therefore, has a stake in devolution of powers to local authorities in the Tamil-dominated areas and ensuring a better deal for them in their country. The worst may be over in Sri Lanka, but there is still much to do.
-Sri Lanka Guardian