Is there a "Dirty Secret" Behind India's Irrational Policy towards the Sri Lankan Crisis?

EDITOR'S NOTE: We planned to publish all three parts of the article in this issue. However because one of the authors, Thanjai Nalankilli, suffered a heart attack, the third part was not available on time for the June 2000 issue of TAMIL TRIBUNE. We wish Mr. Nalankilli a speedy recovery.

Part II: Debunking anti-Tamil-Eelam Propaganda in India

Yashoda Reddy (Andhra Pradesh)

Siva Reddy (Andhra Pradesh)

Thanjai Nalankilli (Tamil Nadu)

TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2000 (ID.2000-06-04)

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NOTE: Part I of this article established that an independent Tamil Eelam is in the national interest of India, through a careful assessment of the relationship between India and Sri Lanka during the past five decades and the geopolitical situation of South Asia. In this part (Part II) we will debunk the anti-Tamil-Eelam lobby's propaganda that an independent Tamil Eelam would destabilize and breakup India. Finally in Part III, we will discuss why the Hindi rulers of India are opposed to an independent Tamil Eelam although it is in India's national interest. We will expose the "dirty secret" behind Indian Government's irrational policy towards the Sri Lankan conflict.

Abbreviations:

LTTE - Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

Outline

Part I

Preface

1. Banned Meetings, Removed Posters, Secret Decisions and a Dirty Secret

2. Background

3. India, Sri Lanka and the Tamil Minority in Sri Lanka

4. What is India's National Interest vis-a-vis the Sri Lankan Conflict

5. Possible Outcomes of the Sri Lankan Conflict

6. A Historical Perspective of India-Sri Lanka Relations

7. Assessment of each Possible Outcome of the Sri Lankan Conflict

 Part II

1. Introduction

2. False Propaganda: "Once Tamil Eelam is independent, LTTE will set out to Liberate Tamil Nadu from India"

3. False Propaganda: "Once Tamil Eelam is independent, LTTE will Destabilize Tamil Nadu"

4. False Propaganda: "LTTE Fought the Indian Army between 1987 and 1990 and Assassinated Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, so We Should Never Support its Tamil Eelam Struggle"

5. False Propaganda: "LTTE Trained the Tamil Retrieval Force to Create Problems in Tamil Nadu, They will do so again"

6. False Propaganda: "An Independent Tamil Eelam would Inspire the Various Minority Nationalities in India to Aspire for Independence and India would Breakup Like the Soviet Union" 

7. False Propaganda: "LTTE is a terrorist Organization, it Will Promote Terrorism after the Independence of Tamil Eelam"

1. Introduction

A few anti-Tamil-Eelam editors, writers and commentators in the Indian media are listing all the ills that would befall on India if Tamil Eelam were to get independence in the Sri Lankan Island. While they repeatedly list these woes through their access to the mass media in India, the Government of India and their surrogates in the Tamil Nadu State Government are not allowing counter views to be voiced. They ban meetings, remove posters and label anyone speaking up for Tamil Eelam as anti-Indian. We will debunk their oft-repeated statements in this part of the article.

2. False Propaganda: "Once Tamil Eelam is independent, LTTE will set out to Liberate Tamil Nadu from India"

This propaganda goes like this: "If Tamil Eelam were to become independent, LTTE will set out to liberate Tamil Nadu to form a "Greater Tamil Eelam". We refer the readers to the article "The Myth of Greater Tamil Eelam (by Thanjai Nalankilli, TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 1999)". That article totally demolishes the ridiculous theory of Greater Tamil Eelam.

3. False Propaganda: "Once Tamil Eelam is independent, LTTE will Destabilize Tamil Nadu"

This is essentially the same false propaganda as the Greater Tamil Eelam scare but with a slightly different flavor.

We ask the anti-Tamil-Eelam lobby in India that is propagating this false propaganda, "Why would LTTE want to destabilize Tamil Nadu after it has achieved Tamil Eelam? What do they get out of it?" Only thing it gets out it would be India's wrath and possible retaliation such as India sending its Air Force to bomb targets in Tamil Eelam. Why would they want that for no good reason? Is simply does not make sense that LTTE would destabilize Tamil Nadu once Tamil Eelam is independent.

We ask these lobbyists, give us one reason why LTTE or any government of Tamil Eelam would want to destabilize Tamil Nadu--just one reason! Can anyone honestly say that LTTE is nothing but a goal-oriented organization? It does everything in a rational, goal-oriented manner--single-minded in achieving an independent Tamil Eelam. They do not do anything "just for the fun of it". Can anyone deny it? Once Tamil Eelam is independent, LTTE has no reason to destabilize Tamil Nadu. On the contrary they have every reason not to do it because if they do, it could bring military retaliation from India. So they are not going to do it.

4. False Propaganda: "LTTE Fought the Indian Army between 1987 and 1990 and Assassinated Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, so We Should Never Support its Tamil Eelam Struggle"

Yes, LTTE did fight the Indian army between 1987 and 1990 in their home soil. They did not come to India and pick a fight with the Indian army or the Indian people. The only reason LTTE fought the Indian army between 1987 and 1990 was that it was on their soil and they concluded, rightly, that as long as the Indian army was there they could not achieve an independent Tamil Eelam. Once the Indian army left its soil, LTTE did not attack any Indian targets (military or civilian) with the possible exception of Rajiv Gandhi assassination. We will discuss the Rajiv Gandhi assassination a little later.

We also point out that the Sri Lankan government secretly supplied LTTE with large quantities of arms and ammunition during that time to fight the Indian Army. At least LTTE fought the Indian Army openly but the Sri Lankan government fought the Indian Army cowardly and secretly by helping LTTE. Don't tell us that it was a different government. If so, how do you know that the next Sri Lankan Government will not be hostile to India? Also, whenever it does not get its way with India, the Sri Lankan government threatens to go to India's archenemy Pakistan. Anti-Tamil-Eelam lobbyists may say, "Sri Lanka has to protect itself from LTTE, so it goes to Pakistan once India refuses to help". We ask, "LTTE fought the Indian army in its soil (not in India) between 1987 and 1990 to protect its cherished goal of Tamil Eelam, so what is wrong with that?" You cannot selectively condemn LTTE and gloss over similar actions by Sri Lanka.

If India can forget Sri Lanka's treachery between 1987-1990 and now help the Sri Lankan military, why not forget about the war with LTTE? Is there a reason why they selectively remember LTTE actions and sweep Sri Lankan actions under the rug?

Now let us come to the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who sent the Indian army to the Tamil regions of Sri Lanka to fight the LTTE. We know that it was a Tamil lady from Sri Lanka who assassinated him. Quite possibly LTTE was responsible for the assassination (we have not researched the subject). We refer our readers to the article "Who REALLY Killed Rajiv?" (by Dr. Norman Baker), The Illustrated Weekly of India, August 22-28, 1992. Preface to the article says, "The findings of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) pertaining to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination all point towards the LTTE. But did the SIT set out with the express purpose of framing the extremist organization? Was the investigation unbiased and free of political pressures and compulsions? Dr. Norman Baker, a US-based writer, raises these important questions in this article. While we have not been able to establish the writer's identity, the issues he raises compel the article's publication". (The Illustrated Weekly of India was one the oldest and most respected publications in India.) This article not only raises serious doubts if LTTE was behind the assassination, it also discusses the possibility of the Sri Lankan government being behind the assassination.

Let us take the generally prevailing view that LTTE was responsible for the assassination. They did not do it to terrorize the Indian people or destabilize India (according to the Supreme Court of India), they did it so that Rajiv Gandhi would not come to power again and try to destroy LTTE and the hope for an independent Tamil Eelam. If LTTE did it, this surely was a goal-oriented action. After this they did not target any Indian leader or Indian assets. Why do you think that LTTE would cause problems for India after the independence of Tamil Eelam? They will not, as we discussed in Section 3.

We also want to point out that "nations do not have permanent friends, they have permanent interests". We already established in Part I of this article that an independent Tamil Eelam is in the national interest of India. So why is the Indian Government opposing it because LTTE fought the Indian army to evict it from its soil between 1987-1990 or it possibly assassinated Rajiv Gandhi so that he would not send the army again to fight the LTTE? Vietnam and the United States of America fought a bitter war for a decade and the latter lost some 50,000 soldiers but today they have cordial relations. So why can't India and Tamil Eelam (or LTTE) have cordial relations? Back in the 1950s, United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk refused to shake hands with the (Communist) Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-Lai at the Bandung Conference. United States fought a war with China over Korea in which thousands of soldiers died. Then in the 1970s, the President of United States Richard Nixon, a staunch anti-Communist went to China and shook hands with Chou-en-Lai's mentor Mao Tse-Tung because it suited its geopolitical strategy. Why can't Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee shake hands with LTTE leader Prabakharan in the national interest of India?

If Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat, whose armies fought several bitter wars, can embrace each other and call each other friend, why can't India be friendly to LTTE? If Palestinian Authority Chairman Arafat and the Israeli Prime Minister can shake hands, why not Prabakharan and the Indian Prime Minister? Palestinians assassinated Egyptian President Sadat, but today Palestinians are embraced and supported by the Egyptian government? Nations do not have permanent friends or permanent enemies, nations have permanent interests. We have established in Part I that an independent Tamil Eelam is in India's national interest. Why is India opposed to it because of the hostilities during the late 1980s and the very early 1990s?

5. False Propaganda: "LTTE Trained the Tamil Retrieval Force to Create Problems in Tamil Nadu, They will do so Again"

The anti-Tamil-Eelam lobbyist would not tell when LTTE trained the Tamil Retrieval Force. This group, may be a few dozen Tamil Nadu Tamils, was formed sometime in the 1980s because they were disgruntled with Indian government's treatment of Tamil Nadu and we believe that their aim was to liberate Tamil Nadu from India. LTTE is said to have trained, may be a dozen members of this group, between 1988 and 1990, when the Indian Army was on their soil and fighting them. It was obviously a tit for tat, "if you come and fight us in our land, we will cause you problems in Tamil Nadu." Once the Indian Army left their soil in 1990, LTTE no longer trained or in any other way supported any militant group in Tamil Nadu. So, arguments that LTTE would train Tamil Nadu militants once Tamil Eelam is independent are without merit. As we asked in Section 3, LTTE has no reason to ferment trouble in Tamil Nadu once Tamil Eelam is free. LTTE is a goal oriented organization; creating trouble in Tamil Nadu "just for the fun of it" is not their way--it never has been.

Also, why can't India forgive LTTE for training a dozen men from Tamil Nadu, if it is ready to forgive the Sri Lankan government of giving large quantities of arms and ammunition to LTTE to fight the Indian army?

6. False Propaganda: "An Independent Tamil Eelam would Inspire the Various Minority Nationalities in India to Aspire for Independence and India would Breakup Like the Soviet Union" 

Separatist movement in Tamil Nadu has its origin well before the LTTE was formed, well before LTTE founder Prabakharan was born. The root cause for separatist tendencies in Tamil Nadu has to do with Hindi imposition and other inequities the Tamils feel. It has absolutely nothing to do with what is happening in Sri Lanka. Don't blame the LTTE for India's problems that started well before the birth of LTTE.

The same is true of separatist movements in Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Tripura, Punjab, etc. These movements did not get their inspiration from Tamil Eelam. Separatist tendencies in these regions are the result of real or perceived injustices and discriminations meted out to these people by the Indian Government.

If the independence of a small nation in the small Sri Lankan Island would cause the breakup of "mother India", then it is inevitable that India would break up whether there is a Tamil Eelam or not. Don't find a scapegoat in Sri Lankan Tamils for India's problems. If the "Indian Union" is so fragile that a sneeze in the tiny Sri Lankan Island would tear it apart, may be the Indian government should do a self analysis to see why there are separatist tendencies in India and address them. India's problems stem from inside and should be solved from inside, and not by crushing the independent movement of the long-suffering Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. India did not break up when Pakistan broke up into two. India did not break up when Soviet Union broke up into many. So why would India breakup just because Sri Lanka breaks up?

7. False Propaganda: "LTTE is a terrorist Organization, it Will Promote Terrorism after the Independence of Tamil Eelam"

We have already asked the question more than once, "Why would LTTE cause trouble in India after Tamil Eelam is free?" There is no reason to.

Look at history. Some of the national leaders of Israel were once considered terrorists. Did Israel foster terrorism after independence? No. Former Israeli Prime Minister Begin was implicated in the bombing of King David Hotel during the British rule? Did he promote terrorism when he became Prime Minister? No. African National Congress (South Africa) was considered a terrorist organization. Its leader Nelson Mandela was in jail for much of his adult life. Did the African National Congress or Nelson Mandela promote terrorism after coming to power in South Africa? No. In fact Nelson Mandela is now considered a leader of great moral authority. With such precedents, why do you think LTTE would promote terrorism after the independence of Tamil Eelam?

NOTE: This ends Part II. In Part I of this article we established that an independent Tamil Eelam is in the national interest of India, through a careful assessment of the relationship between India and Sri Lanka during the past five decades and the geopolitical situation of South Asia. In this part (Part II) we demolished anti-Tamil-Eelam lobby's propaganda that an independent Tamil Eelam would destabilize and breakup India. In Part III of this three-part article, we will discuss why the Hindi rulers of India are opposed to an independent Tamil Eelam although it is in India's national interest. We will expose the "dirty secret" behind Indian Government's irrational policy towards the Sri Lankan conflict.

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Myth of Greater Tamil Eelam (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 1999 (13 KB)

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