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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 happy to let Norway deal with LTTE, 31 May 2000
India happy to let Norway deal with LTTE
Indian Express - Jyoti Malhotra, 31 May 2000
India is working with Sri Lanka to evolve a devolution package for the Tamil community on the island, secure in the knowledge that the Tamils must find a ``place of honour'' within the territorial integrity and unity of Sri Lanka.
Even as the Sri Lankan armed forces fight back against the rampaging LTTE guerrillas, New Delhi is said to be persuading Colombo to ``go beyond the 1987 devolution package'' that was an integral part of the Indo-Sri Lanka accord, and address the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils there.
The devolution package has become central to the Government's strategy in dealing with the current crisis in Sri Lanka, especially since it is determined not to participate in any form of military intervention that would put at risk the lives of Indian soldiers.
``India wants peace in Sri Lanka, but we're not in the business of brokering a ceasefire,'' highly placed sources in the Government said, adding that intervention was like a ``pit full of venomous snakes and must not be reattempted.''
The sources also pointed out that an integral part of New Delhi foreign policy was to ``manage the sentiment in Tamil Nadu.'' That is, to take into account the sentiments of Tamilians as well as the political compulsions of some of the BJP Government's partners in coalition, without which any strategy would be incomplete and ineffective.
The first condition for the Indian devolution proposal is that there must be ``political consensus'' within Sri Lanka, including by the Opposition. While New Delhi wants the current devolution package to go beyond the 1987 package (which accorded a merger of the North and East provinces), Chandrika Kumaratunga's 1997 package, which goes much further but is being disputed by the Opposition, seeks to change the unitary character of Sri Lanka into a federal state.
The Government sources, meanwhile, also debunked speculation about New Delhi being in touch with the LTTE, saying that they were well aware of the ``track record'' of the guerrilla outfit.
In fact, New Delhi is quite happy to let the Norwegian government, backed as it is by the US and the European Union, deal with the LTTE. The International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) as well as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees are other avenues through which the Government ascertains the LTTE views.
Aware that any direct contact with the LTTE was tantamount to committing the ``same errors'' as in 1987, the Government prefers to let the Norwegians and others act as ``shock-absorbers'' in mediating the conflict.
Under the circumstances, New Delhi's view is that, while it is prepared for humanitarian assistance -- which could include an evacuation of Sri Lankan troops by sea or air -- it is fully aware of the enormous problems attendant on evacuation.
``The most difficult operation in war is withdrawal. Infinitely more difficult is evacuation,'' the sources said.
The fluidity of the military situation in Jaffna is preventing New Delhi from making a conclusive assessment of how the war is unfolding there. Certainly, there is no firm belief that Jaffna town will fall sooner or later, but even if it does, the sources said, that did not mean that the entire peninsula was also going to come under control of the LTTE.