LTTE is finished! Prabhakaran has been killed!! Perhaps Sri Lanka was left with no other choice. And perhaps it’s good for their future. However, the debate is not so simple. Successive Indian governments, from the time of our late Prime Minister Nehru, have had an important role to play. Not in any good manner but in a very spineless negative manner. History is testimony to the fact that after Independence, we have always played a pathetic role when it has come to managing our neighbours, thus allowing a very negatively aggressive China the upper hand. We gave away Tibet to China – though historically Tibet was always a part of India – thereby allowing China to come literally next to our borders and create continuous nonsense. We have failed miserably in handling even a country like Bhutan, which used to shield ULFA terrorists against us. We gave away Bangladesh very gallantly, but despite that, we failed to manage relations with the Bangladeshis; and speaking about Pakistan is next to useless. Sri Lanka, similarly, has been managed as badly. The small country is astoundingly close to the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Expectably, scores of Tamilians are settled within Sri Lanka. However, the Sri Lankans, ever since the very beginning, have denied Tamilians many basic human rights and have made them live under horrible conditions. For years, Sri Lankan Tamilians were treated as unwanted people – from the 1956 Sinhala Only Act, which forced civilians to stop using Tamil as their language, to the 1958 and 1977 anti-Tamil riots, from the 1981 burning of the reputed Jaffna public library to July 1983, when Sri Lanka witnessing the bloodiest ever anti-Tamil riots by the Sinhalese majority after the LTTE had ambushed a few army personnel. In these Black July riots, thousands of Sri Lankan Tamils were massacred, more than a lakh fled the country. The Human Rights Watch has confirmed that Sri Lanka is now amongst the countries with the highest number of unexplained and mysterious disappearances of civilians. Most of them who have disappeared have been Tamils, with the Human Rights Watch expressing that the Sri Lankan government has displayed deliberate lack of resolve to even investigate these disappearances. The United Nations Working Group places Sri Lanka second on the ignominious disappearing list and documents cases of rape, torture and custodial killings at random. The US State Department, the EU, and almost all other top countries have accused the Sri Lankan State machinery of being complicit in the human rights crimes being committed. LTTE, perhaps a terrorist organisation to many, has been a result and consequence of similar Sri Lankan atrocities against the Tamilians. All the LTTE wanted in reality was a dignified existence for Tamilians settled there. Unfortunately, that was never to be, and it became a full blown conflict between LTTE and Sri Lanka, putting them often in a bad light. Somewhere down the line, even LTTE lost its basic track and started doing things, which could easily get classified as acts of terrorism. Having said that, the fact is that innocent Tamilians have suffered throughout, and never more than during this LTTE cleanup operation by the ruthless Sri Lankan army, an entity which has definitely violated many human rights and bombed them to destruction. No admonition from any global entity, be it UN, Amnesty International, or even the US, has worried the emboldened Sri Lankan army this time. And now, they have even stopped the access of agencies like the International Red Cross and other aid agencies to the war zone and various Tamil camps in a deliberate bid to restrict medical and food aid to thousands of Tamilians at the border of death. Rarely would any other big country have allowed such kinds of acts of inhuman barbarism in its neighbourhood the way India has allowed since the times of Nehru himself. Jawaharlal Nehru should have decidedly taken a stance and seen to it then itself that the Tamilians got their independent rights – after all Sri Lanka, unlike Pakistan, was a democracy. But Nehru’s weak policies led to China's nonstop growing clout in our neighbourhood; to such an extent that today, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka to Bangladesh to Nepal, China is funding all these countries against Indian interests. And China is a heavy, clear and present threat to India because on pen and paper itself, China's military might is about twice of that of India’s today. In dangerous reality, being a dictatorial country with no need to maintain proper accounting systems, the fact is that China’s real might could very well be at least five times more. Coming back to the plight of Tamilians in Sri Lanka, it is time for India to finally act and show that it has got what it takes to defend its people and their rights across the world; and definitely across the next door. This treatment meted out to Tamilians openly and in front of the entire world’s eyes in violation of all basic human rights is a direct challenge to India’s might and insult to its existence. It’s time for the Indian government to show some spine. And this should be completely high up in the new government’s cross border agenda.
- 28 May 2009 |
- Arindam on Indian Politics