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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > LTTE's Military Victories & the International Response > India ready to take any step in Sri Lanka says Indian Prime Minister

Norwegian Peace Initiative

India ready to take any step in Sri Lanka says Indian Prime Minister
C. Raja Mohan in The Hindu, 21 May 2000

NEW DELHI, MAY 20. As the military situation in the Jaffna peninsula begins to evolve rapidly, the Government is moving closer towards some hard decisions on Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee's remarks here today that India was ``ready'' to take any step ``if necessary'', reflects the sense here that the Government that can no longer duck its responsibilities in Sri Lanka.

With the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) reportedly gaining ground in the offensive against Jaffna, an Indian decision to intervene, in some form, in Sri Lanka may be imminent.

Mr. Vajpayee told reporters that the situation in Sri Lanka was ``changing rapidly'' and the Government was ``keeping a close watch''.

Officials here say the Government is in continuous contact with Colombo through its mission there and is evaluating various options in the event Jaffna does fall in the next few days.

The timing and nature of the intervention will depend on ground situation as well as the political attitudes of Colombo and the LTTE towards an increased Indian role in the conflict.

The immediate trigger for an Indian intervention is the fate of the nearly 30,000 Sri Lankan troops in the Jaffna peninsula. India might have to play some part in evacuating these soldiers if they are trapped by the LTTE.

The Government is debating whether an Indian humanitarian intervention must take place only in a ``permissive'' environment, with LTTE's consent, or whether it could go ahead even in ``hostile'' conditions.

The LTTE has already issued an ultimatum to the troops to ``surrender'' or face the consequences. It also offered not to harm the surrendering forces and hand them over to the International Committee of Red Cross. Colombo meanwhile insists its troops will fight on.

It is in this context that the merits of an Indian sponsored ``ceasefire'' and the likely reactions of the two sides are being discussed here. One variant of the proposal is a ceasefire coupled with an evacuation of Sri Lankan troops assisted by India.

If Colombo arrives at the judgment that it cannot hold onto Jaffna and believes it is important to save its troops, it may favour such a ceasefire. But with the LTTE appearing to seize the initiative, it is by no means clear whether the rebels' leadership would adopt reasonable positions. Equally unpredictable is the nature of the political fallout in Colombo when it loses control over Jaffna.


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