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Tamilnadu factor in India’s foreign policy

[DailyNews.lk, Tuesday, 9 December 2008 20:45 No Comment]

The pangs of proximity have its spill over effects on foreign policy. Tamils have been a very strong linguistic group that have depended identity based preferential politics. Their loyalty to language has literally bordered on fanaticism that now several political parties and the Tamil film personalities of Kollywood have refused to see the difference between the deadliest terrorist group the LTTE and the Tamil people.


image The present resignations of Tamilnadu MPs is nothing but a ploy to save the LTTE, which is fighting with its back to the wall as the Sri Lankan Forces have entered the LTTE heartland, Kilinochchi. There must be a line that must be drawn between two sovereign countries, between LTTE a terrorist group and common Tamils, as well as the limits of linguistic fanaticism acceptable when Tamils do it but Marathis cannot do it for they cannot. The Government of India due to the pressures of coalition politics is refusing to take a strong stand on terrorism or linguistic identity politics at the same time is wary of antagonising the only friendly neighbour we have in South Asia as well as burnt our fingers with the IPKF experience and the Rajiv murder.



It is time that the Union Government made it clear that India’s foreign policy to Sri Lanka would be on the basis of our Security and national interests. Terrorists are terrorists whether they are Islamic or Tamil. Ethnic identity cannot make their acts of violence to be condoned. In the past India made the mistake of supporting the Tamil militant groups like the LTTE, to have a foothold in Sri Lanka and serve India’s Munroe doctrine known as the “Indira Doctrine”.

This doctrine was enunciated in 1983, the year of the worst Sinhala-Tamil riots. The doctrine looks upon India’s Security as co-terminus with the region. That region is from Afghanistan to Myanmar and the Indian Ocean. Any interference in the region is seen as a threat to India’s Security. The Sri Lankan state has been battling with Tamil terrorism since the 1970s. In the 1980s with Indian help to the militants it worsened, then India tried to broker a deal in 1987 with the Tamil terrorist groups and the Sri Lankan state known as the Indo-Sri Lankan treaty. But this did not work as the LTTE refused to lay down arms and India pledged to protect the integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka. Hence India did not accept the idea of separate state of Eelam.


This will affect India’s position vis-a-vis separatists in Kashmir. It was unfortunate that the IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Forces) had to return without achieving much but rather the reverse. We made both the Sinhala Buddhists as well as the Tamil militants, whom we aided with men, material and arms hate India. The watershed was the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on 21 May 1991 by the LTTE as they feared his return to power in the elections. Rajiv Gandhi was shocked by the double speak and diabolic game played by the LTTE, that he refused trust these militant groups. It is no secret that several Tamil political parties were in league, especially the present ruling party the DMK. They allowed the dry run of Rajiv Gandhi assassination as well as allowed the killing of KS Padmanabha by the LTTE.


The then DIG, Police Dorai, had to commit suicide as oral instructions were given to him not to arrest the LTTE cadre that carried out the assassination. Many believe that the top DMK leadership was in the know of the plan to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi.


Hence the pursuit of power should not change these facts. The LTTE should be crushed if we are serious in rooting out terrorism. Rajiv Gandhi did the same thing in violating the Sri Lankan space and made the Indian Air Force to save the LTTE when they were surrounded by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. This proved a costly mistake for India and the same group used the Tamil civilian population as it front and saved itself. This is what they are doing again. India cannot have a hypocritical policy of your terrorists and our freedom fighters. This will become a dangerous argument.


The LTTE has killed the highest number leaders including Rajiv Gandhi and there is no repentance from them or from the Tamil political parties who are the allies of the Congress at the Centre and the State. It has the best record better than Al-Queda at eliminating the top Sinhala leadership. For us it is just one, whereas for the Sinhalese it has several. Anton Balasingham, just before his death called the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi a strategic mistake as they lost the support of the Indian state for sanctuary, men, material and arms.


Ever since the first attack on Tamils by Sinhala activists in 1983, the ethnic issue has resonated in the state’s politics. Till 1990, both the Centre and the state were helping forces like the LTTE with arms and aid. But the gruesome murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by LTTE suicide bomber shut all doors of sympathy both for the LTTE and the Tamils of Sri Lanka. Of late the LTTE is desperately seeking support from India and the Indian Tamils. India will have to take a tough stand on LTTE. Peace has evaded the Tamils for more than two decades, partly due to the LTTE tactics of peace time to stock up arms. The pessimist side of this is that the Tamil civilian population are caught between the allegedly racist Sri Lankan army and a dreaded terrorist organization, which uses them as human shields. As the Sri Lankan army has put a siege on Killinochchi, where LTTE supreme hides, the issue has become a hot potato.


Linguistic blackmail


The resignation of the Members of Parliament tendering their resignation is nothing but drama and unconstitutional. These MPs who have sworn by the Indian Constitution, how could they ask for the Union Government to intervene. Sri Lanka is a sovereign independent state. How can we interfere when they have after more than two decades been able to come close to crushing the deadliest terrorist group. Do we know that the LTTE plays by the “politics of cannibalism”? That is they kill anyone who opposes them or is seen as a threat to the supreme leaders Vellupillai Prabhakaran. Where was Vaiko screaming when the LTTE killed the top leadership of the moderate Tamil party TULF? So LTTE is not fighting for the Tamils of Sri Lanka and it does not want democracy but a dictatorship of the LTTE. It has killed so many Tamils who dared to oppose the LTTE as well. Now the Tamil parties want to bail out the LTTE. Their rationale, Tamils killing Sinhalese is fine, but the reverse is genocide.


The complex and emotive issue of the Tamils and the LTTE had an all party meeting in Tamilnadu on October 14 held in Chennai decided unanimously to issue an ultimatum to the Central Government to “stop the massacre of innocent Tamils in Sri Lanka and bring its Government to the negotiating table” with the much feared LTTE within two weeks, failing which members of Parliament elected from Tamilnadu will resign. Vaiko of the MDMK threatened to organize youth from all over India to fight alongside the LTTE. He also demanded that the Indian embassy in Sri Lanka should be withdrawn as a pressure tactic.

The Tamil film industry is a partisan animal. What was the necessity for them to march to Rameshwaram. Do they want to threaten the Sri Lankans that Tamils will cross over? This is the fear that the Sinhala Buddhists always had and that is why they never considered themselves as a majority. They feel like the sub continental minority and the Tamils as the sub continental majority. This is a warning to India’s policy of equal treatment of all linguistic groups as well as terrorism from across the border, Pakistan.


Double standards


There are two double standards that the present Union Government is practising. One, we have been complaining about Pakistan training the Islamic Jihadi terrorism. Tomorrow if Pakistan MPs resign and want Pakistan army to intervene in Kashmir, will we accept this? There is also a coalition and survival seems utmost like for both the governments. In India, the DMK and its allies has 40 seats, so accept their linguistic fanaticism which is using the issue of Tamil genocide to save the LTTE and give it enough respite to recoup and realign. India cannot have this double policy and the Union Government should have the courage to tell her allies in Tamilnadu that India will not help terrorists, rather will help the Sri Lankan government to crush this ruthless terrorist group.


Within India, the union Government has permitted rather encouraged preferential politics for certain linguistic groups. One such group is the Tamils, who have opposed Hindi as the official language of the country. This is from 1937 and several of these Tamil leaders have gone to jail and called for secession in the name of a separate “Dravidaistan” even before Jinnah’s two nation theory. It was not until 1962 that the DMK accepted the Constitution. There were several anti-Hindi riots and violence in Tamilnadu where only the Central Government properties were destroyed. The State follows a two language policy of Tamil and English.


Then may one ask by the same token Raj Thackeray’s plea for the “Marathi Manoos” is seen differently? In what way are the Tamils’s linguistic policies of anti Hindism nationalistic? How could there be two different policies where a railway minister calls the Thackerays “mental”. One should challenge him to do the same to the Tamil leadership who are his allies. In Tamilnadu, learning Tamil is necessary, whereas in Maharashtra, Hindi people impose their language and look down on the local people, their language and culture. Why not a two language for Maharashtra, Marathi and English, on the lines of Tamilnadu? Why cannot Marathi people, culture and language be given primacy of place like for Tamils and other linguistic groups?

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