India & the Struggle for
"LTTE is deservedly dying, but long live the Tamil cause"
Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi,
and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai.
22 April 2009
remarkable victory of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces against the LTTE was
partly due to their improved counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism
capabilities made possible by Indian assistance in the form of training and
sharing of intelligence and partly due to their emulating the Pakistani
Armed forces in the brutal use of the Air Force against people whom they
portray as their own. Just as the Balochs were defenceless against the
brutal Pakistani air strikes, the Sri Lankan Tamils were defenceless against
the Sri Lankan air strikes... Many Sri Lankan officers might have been
trained in India, but their mindset and their attitude towards the
minorities have more in common with those of their Pakistani counterparts
than with those of their Indian counterparts. Therein lies the danger that
after winning the war against the LTTE, the Government, strongly influenced
by a victorious army, might trey to impose a dictated peace on the Tamils.
If the angry Tamils once again look up to India, there is no reason why we
should not reciprocate provided a new leadership emerges in the Tamil
community and it has drawn the right lessons from the brutalities of the
Mr. Raman's remarks will not come as a surprise to many Tamils. We said it
some three years ago -
"...US and India may find common cause in weakening the
LTTE - but they seek to weaken it in such a way that thereafter
each of them may successfully secure their own strategic interests.
And herein lies the conflict - and the difficulty. New Delhi will not
support a resolution of the conflict which secures US hegemony in the
island. And so it will seek to create Tamil dissidents and build
support among them as a way of keeping its foothold in the island. It
sought to do so with TELO, it sought to do so with EPRLF and Varadarajah
Perumal, it sought to do so with EROS, it sought to do so with
Amirthalingam, and now it seeks to so so with Karuna and
Lanka - Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes - Nadesan Satyendra, 26 October 2006
And so today in the year 2009, Mr.Raman says -
"If the angry Tamils once again look up to India, there
is no reason why we should not reciprocate provided a new leadership
emerges in the Tamil community.."
Mr.Raman is at pains to remind us that 'the Tamils of
Sri Lanka have been India’s natural allies' -
"...Let us not forget that ever since our independence
in 1947... the Tamils of Sri Lanka have been India’s natural allies..."
Mr.Raman does not say whether he regards Sinhala Sri Lanka
also as a natural ally. Or whether he takes the view that Sinhala Sri Lanka
is a natural ally of China. Here, it seems that Mr.Raman would have us
ignore the remarks of Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab
Mukherjee a few months ago -
" We have a very comprehensive relationship with Sri
Lanka. In our anxiety to protect the civilians, we should not forget
the strategic importance of this island to India's interests,...
especially in view of attempts by countries like Pakistan and China to
gain a strategic foothold in the island nation...Colombo had been
told that India would 'look after your security requirements, provided
you do not look around'. We cannot have a playground of
international players in our backyard..."Indian
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee, 23 October 2008
Mr. Raman says -
"It was sympathy for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause at New
Delhi when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister and in Tamil Nadu, which
induced India to take up their cause in the 1980s..."
Mr.Raman would have us forget something which Jyotindra Nath
Dixit, Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka 1985 /89,
Foreign Secretary in 1991/94 and National Security Adviser to the Prime
Minister of India 2004/05 said in 1998 -
"...Tamil militancy received (India's) support
...as a response to (Sri Lanka's).. concrete and expanded military and
intelligence cooperation with the United States, Israel and Pakistan.
...The assessment was that these presences would pose a strategic threat
to India and they would encourage fissiparous movements in the southern
states of India. .. a process which could have found encouragement from
Pakistan and the US, given India's experience regarding their policies
in relation to Kashmir and the Punjab.... Inter-state relations are not
governed by the logic of morality. They were and they remain an amoral
Mr. Raman would have us ignore India's duplicity
as reported by M.R. Narayan Swamy who (significantly) worked at the
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS), a New Delhi based wire service in his book
Elusive Mind - Prabhakaran in 2003 -
"...Most Tamil separatists from Sri Lanka had accepted the Indian offer
(to provide arms and training) at its face value, thinking that New Delhi
was reaching out to them out of genuine concern for their condition.
However, an extraordinary revelation began to unfold as the training
started. Many guerrillas realized that the training was just a subterfuge
larger strategic game that India was attempting to play, a game in which
the Tamil rebels may end up being just expendable pawns.
The militants were surprised because besides just training them, some
trainers asked leading questions that indicated India might one day do a
Bangladesh in Sri Lanka. Indian troops had intervened militarily in the then
eastern wing of Pakistan in 1971, leading to its secession from Pakistan's
western wing and emergence as an independent nation called Bangladesh. The
trainers wanted to know details about road bridges, railway tracks, landing
fields, the depth of the sea and the coastline. Some Sri Lankans were asked
to get photographs; when they refused, the Indians became angry. Some Tamils
complained that they were taught conventional, and not guerrilla, warfare...
As the months went by, the training became sloppy and indifferent.
Prabhakaran was quick on the uptake to see the warning signals...Once he
looked at some weapons supplied by the Indian government. He remarked wryly
to those standing around him: "See, they are giving us old stuff. They think
we are stupid".."
Mr. Raman would have us forget Rajiv Gandhi's
war crimes in Tamil
reprisal killings of non-combatants, looting of homes,
murderous attack on the Jaffna hospital
killing of a number of unarmed and disarmed guerrilla suspects without
trial and in breach of the Laws of War.
"Over a period of about 20 days (in
1987) , the Indian Army's direct attack on LTTE positions, and defence
from LTTE attacks, was coupled with the Indian Army's attack and
storming of still unevacuated Jaffna - and many villages and settlements
throughout the Peninsula - with widespread (insofar as territory),
indiscriminate (insofar as targeting) and sustained (insofar as
intensity) artillery shelling. Only less widespread, sustained and
indiscriminate, there was air-strafing from helicopter as well. It
was not "cross-fire" that incidentally killed thousands of civilians.
The majority were killed unavoidably inside their houses and huts under
shelling, or were shot at random by the roads and on the streets. A
large number of people were "only" wounded - yet, many of them died in
the absence of medical care, especially under the 24-hour curfew over a
period of about one month, to mid-November...
... Indian Intelligence services in Tamil Nadu, and the IPKF in Sri
Lanka, have been making use of the rivalry and violent bickering between
the LTTE and the other Tamil militant groups. Moreover, India has
obviously exacerbated the intra-Tamil militant conflict by rewarding
materially - offering to do it politically in future as well - the
assistance received from PLOTE, TELO and EPRLF to identify LTTE members
living underground with the population, and also in the refugee camps -
a process of identification that the recently arrived Indian soldiers
cannot obviously do. This is one of the oldest classical tactics by
occupation armies, and still another clear indication of the war
fighting rather than peacekeeping nature of the current Indian campaign
in Sri Lanka. .. the Tamil People by and large seem to resent such a
fratricidal mercenarisation of their youngsters, which corrupts a
situation already vile enough. Also, information-gathering tactics such
as the use of relief and recourse to mercenarisation suggest that the
population has not been volunteering information to the Indian Army
which, in turn, may suggest either or both of two things : that by and
large the Tamil population has turned, if only passively, against the
Indian Army, and that popular support for the LTTE is more solid and
widespread that anyone anywhere seems to want to acknowledge.
Marino's report to International Alert, after a visit to the war zone in
Mr.Raman would have us forget something which
Somasekaram, Retd. Surveyor General said in 2004 -
"The simple fact of the matter is that a foreign country, with
designs of becoming a regional superpower, maneuvered to send its Army
here as Peace Keepers but massacred thousands of innocent Tamil
civilians, raped the women and plundered valuables.If memorials are to
be erected, then it should be for innocent civilians massacred by the
Let me provide a few samples from my personal
knowledge. These represent but the tip of an iceberg. I
write as an authentic son of Jaffna, born and bred there,
educated at Jaffna Hindu College and the only house my wife
and I own is in Jaffna.
..the Indian Army came here, massacred innocent Tamil
civilians, raped our women and plundered our valuables. The
acronym IPKF will always stand for Indian People Killing
Force where we are concerned.We will one day erect a
memorial in the heart of Jaffna town, in the centre of
Hospital Road, in memory of all the innocent civilians –
ranging in age from the very old past 80 to young children
massacred by the IPKF and to the women who were raped..."
Mr.Raman says -
"President Mahinda Rajapakse has repeatedly promised
that once the LTTE is defeated, he would be generous in meeting the
political aspirations of the Tamils. He gives the impression of being a
sincere man, but will the Sinhalese Army with its head bloated by its
success against the LTTE allow him to do so?
The murderous President Rajapaksa who has overseen the
Eelam Tamils, has given Mr.Raman 'the impression of being a sincere man'
who is also inclined to be generous. It is simply the Sri Lankan army that
will have to be watched - presumably US Green Card holders such as General
Fonseka and Defence Secretary Gothabya Rajapaksa. After all, US Green Card
holders cannot be trusted to advance New Delhi's interests in the Indian
Mr. Raman says -
" it is not in India’s interest that the Sri Lankan
Government and Armed Forces proceed from the destruction of the LTTE to
the destruction of the Tamil aspirations for greater political and
economic rights in their traditional homeland and for greater human
dignity... We should not let the legitimate aspirations of our natural
allies - whether they be the Sindhis and Balochs of Pakistan or the Sri
Lankan Tamils - be crushed by a brutal regime - whether in Islamabad or
But what are these legitimate aspirations which Mr.Raman is
concerned to secure for the Tamil people? What does 'greater political
and economic rights' and 'greater human dignity' mean without an open
recognition of the right to self determination of the Tamil Eelam nation?
Does Mr.Raman deny the legitimacy of the aspirations of the Tamil Eelam
nation expressed by Tamil Eelam leader S.J.V.Chelvanayagam in 1975?
"Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as
distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination.
It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle
for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their
We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political
rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon."
"It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used
the power that flows from independence
to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject
people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against
the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils."
"I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the
verdict at this election as a mandate that the
Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the
Tamil people and become free."
And if Mr. Raman does not regard these aspirations as
legitimate is it because he lacks lucidity in thinking? Or is it because he
is simply concerned to use the Tamil Eelam lever to exert pressure on
Sinhala Sri Lanka and prevent 'a playground of international players' in
We cannot say of Mr. Raman what he
has said of Prabhakaran. We cannot say that Mr.Raman displays
'irrationality and loss of lucidity in thinking' . Mr. Raman is
rational. And there is no loss of lucidity in his thinking. He is
being rational and lucid in his duplicitous effort to use the Tamil
Eelam lever to keep President Rajapaksa in line and secure India as the
'paramount power' in the Indian Ocean region. And so Mr.Raman says
that, on the one hand President Rajapaksa 'seems sincere' but on
the other hand 'the Colombo regime may be brutal'. The message to
President Rajapaksa is clear. Play ball or we will beat you with the Tamil
stick even if the LTTE is no more. And Mr.Raman is engaged in the task of
fashioning a new Tamil stick and is searching for Tamil quislings who will
do New Delhi's bidding and who may be passed off as credible Tamil
As for the Tamil Eelam nation, there is an old
adage: once bitten twice shy. The people of Tamil Eelam have been bitten by
New Delhi's duplicity before and they are not about to put their lives on
line again to secure New Delhi's strategic interests in the Indian
Ocean region and then be left with the
comic opera reforms of the 13th Amendment.
are some who may describe the 13th Amendment as a constitutional sleight of
hand par excellence. But, that is to put too fine a point on the matter. The
blunt reality is that those who proclaim that the 13th Amendment is intended
to share power between the Tamil people and the Sinhala people, are, to use
a colloquialism, 'trying to pull a fast one' on the Tamil people.
Under the 13th Amendment power will continue to reside in a Sinhala
dominated Central government, within the frame of an unitary constitution.
The 13th Amendment is intended to secure a constitutional frame which will
enable a Sinhala majority to manage the Tamil people more effectively than
It has created Provincial Ministers who will not exercise executive power
but who will have executive power exercised 'through' them!. At the same
time it has created a Provincial Governor appointed by the Sinhala President
who will exercise executive power in respect of provincial matters - a
Provincial Governor who is also the administrative head of the provincial
public service and who has control of the Provincial Finance Fund. And the
13th Amendment has created a Provincial Council without control of planning,
without control of the provincial budget, without control of police and
public order within the province, without control of disposition of state
land within the province, without control of higher education and whose
remaining meagre legislative powers are subject to the over riding will of
the Central Parliament. Finally, the provisions of the Provincial Councils
Act itself may be amended from time to time by a simple majority of members
present and voting in Parliament"
13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution - Devolution or Comic Opera?,
Nadesan Satyendra 1988
It seems that Mr.Raman duplicitous though he may be, is also
god fearing and he has found it necessary to make clear that it 'is in
the common interest of India and Sri Lanka that Prabhakaran is finally able
to make peace with his Maker by either being killed by the Armed Forces or
by taking his own life'.
It is our hope that when the time
comes, (as it will for all of us), the god fearing Mr.Raman will
seek forgiveness and make peace with his Maker for his contribution to the
pain and suffering visited by an amoral New Delhi on the people of Tamil
Eelam during the past several decades. Mr. Raman may want to recognise that
the Tamil people in Eelam (and in
Guadelope & Martinique,
New Caledonia & Tahiti,
Saudi Arabia ,
South Africa ,
United Arab Emirates ,
USA) may be angry but they are not stupid.
After the LTTE What?
The Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is in its death rattle. It was decisively defeated by the
Sri Lankan Armed Forces weeks ago, but a handful of its leadership headed by
Prabhakaran has cynically and cruelly prolonged the agony of the Tamil civilians
by using them as a buffer and human-shield in order to delay the
re-establishment of the writ of the Sri Lankan Government in a miniscule piece
of territory (about 20 sq.kms), which has been declared by the Government as a
no-fire zone to avoid collateral casualties among the civilians still under the
control of the LTTE and to enable them to escape from the clutches of the LTTE.
2. Prabhakaran is a leader with a split personality. During the 26 years he has
dominated the Tamil landscape in Sri Lanka, he had shown a remarkable organizing
capacity and an ability to motivate his followers to perform virtual miracles.
His motivating his cadres to acquire a capability for action by air and sea
would go down in the history of insurgency and terrorism as indicating an
organizing capability of a high order. The LTTE under his leadership managed to
bring almost the entire Tamil-inhabited territory in the Northern and Eastern
Provinces under its control. The determined manner in which the LTTE fought
against the Indian-Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in the late 1980s and frustrated
its efforts to defeat it spoke highly of its capabilities for a conventional
3.If Prabhakaran had the activities of the LTTE confined to conventional warfare
and developed the LTTE as a purely insurgent force, which targeted only the
armed forces and not innocent civilians, he would have acquired greater support
from the international community for the Tamil cause. The rational side of his
personality as illustrated by his organizing capabilities had to constantly
contend with a highly irrational side, which drove him to simultaneously take to
terrorism of a shockingly brutal kind.
4. The targeted killings by the LTTE of many Sri Lankan Tamil leaders, who were
perceived by Prabhakaran as possible impediments to his rise as the unquestioned
leader of the Tamil community, and its brutal assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in
May 1991 were the outcome of the irrational side of his personality. No other
Indian leader had done more to help the Sri Lankan Tamil cause than Indira
Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Only a sickly and sickening irrational mind could have
ordered the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Laxman Kadirgamar, a
highly-respected Tamil leader, who was a senior adviser on foreign policy to
former President Chandrika Kumaratunge. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on
Prabhakaran’s orders shocked Indian public opinion----including public opinion
in Tamil Nadu--- and weakened Indian support for the Tamil cause. The
assassination of Kadirgamar shocked the Western public opinion and led to the
declaration of the LTTE as a terrorist organization by the Western world,
thereby denying the last vestiges of Western support for the Tamil cause.
5.As the LTTE faced one defeat after another during the last three years from
the Sri Lankan Armed Forces---initially in the Eastern Province and finally in
the Northern Province---- the irrational side of Prabhakaran’s personality
erased his rational side. His shocking use of the Tamil civilians in order to
delay the final end of the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaign
undertaken by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces is driven by this irrational streak in
him, which now dominates his personality.
6. The prolonged agony of the Sri Lankan Tamils caused by the final bout of
Prabhakaran’s irrationality and loss of lucidity in thinking has to be ended.
The Sri Lankan Armed Forces, which have shown patience till now and deliberately
slowed down their operations, cannot be faulted if they have come to the
conclusion that the time has come to liberate the no-fire zone too from the
clutches of the LTTE by undertaking limited operations with small arms and
ammunition even at the risk of some collateral casualties to the civilians.
7. The desperate attempt of Prabhakaran to use the civilians to protect himself
from the advancing Sri Lankan Army can be attributed to the total loss of
lucidity in his thinking and his consequent inability to face the bitter truth
that he and his organization have been defeated decisively by the Sri Lankan
Armed Forces and that there is no chance of their staging a come-back. The
Requiem for the LTTE could be written without fears of going wrong, should the
LTTE stage a come-back as it had done on occasions in the past. It has been
defeated beyond recovery. His conventional as well as terrorist capabilities are
in shatters. Earlier conventional wisdom that small groups of the LTTE might
still be able to keep indulging in sporadic acts of terrorism in different parts
of Sri Lanks needs re-consideration. His desperate delaying action at the cost
of immense suffering to the Tamils, whose cause he claims to espouse, is meant
to give him an opportunity to seek safe sanctuary either in Tamil Nadu or
elsewhere from where he could try to re-start his fight against the Sri Lankan
Armed Forces. It is in the common interest of India and Sri Lanka that
Prabhakaran is finally able to make peace with his Maker by either being killed
by the Armed Forces or by taking his own life. A defeated Prabhakaran, if left
alive in India or elsewhere, would not be a threat, but could be a nuisance for
both the countries.
8. After the final death of the LTTE, which is expected any day, what is the
future of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause? Would a Requiem for the LTTE also mean a
Requiem for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause? Hopefully not. It is in India’s interest
that the LTTE as a terrorist organization is destroyed once and for all, but it
is not in India’s interest that the Sri Lankan Government and Armed Forces
proceed from the destruction of the LTTE to the destruction of the Tamil
aspirations for greater political and economic rights in their traditional
homeland and for greater human dignity.
9. Let us not forget that ever since our independence in 1947, the Bengalis of
the then East Pakistan, the Balochs and Sindhis of Pakistan and the Tamils of
Sri Lanka have been India’s natural allies. It was this reality which persuaded
Indira Gandhi to assist the Bengalis of the then East Pakistan to achieve their
independence. Even though successive Governments in New Delhi refrained from
supporting the causes of the Sindhis and the Balochs, Indian public opinion
sympathized and continues to sympathise with their cause. It was sympathy for
the Sri Lankan Tamil cause at New Delhi when Indira Gandhi was the Prime
Minister and in Tamil Nadu, which induced India to take up their cause in the
10.There is no reason why India should not pride itself and seek to be the
paramount power of the region. To emerge and remain as the paramount power, we
need natural allies in the region around us. We should not let the legitimate
aspirations of our natural allies---whether they be the Sindhis and Balochs of
Pakistan or the Sri Lankan Tamils--- be crushed by a brutal regime--- whether in
Islamabad or in Colombo.
11. Since 1947, the Balochs rose twice in revolt in favour of independence for
their homeland. On both occasions, they were defeated by the Pakistani Armed
Forces as decisively as the LTTE by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. The Pakistani
leadership brutally used the Air Force against the Balochs to crush their
freedom struggle. Undaunted by this, the Baloch people, under a new leadership,
rose in revolt for a third time two years ago and their third war of
independence is still going on.
12. The remarkable victory of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces against the LTTE was
partly due to their improved counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism
capabilities made possible by Indian assistance in the form of training and
sharing of intelligence and partly due to their emulating the Pakistani Armed
forces in the brutal use of the Air Force against people whom they portray as
their own. Just as the Balochs were defenceless against the brutal Pakistani air
strikes, the Sri Lankan Tamils were defenceless against the Sri Lankan air
13. The US has used air strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan----but in foreign
territory and against foreign nationals. Only three countries in the world have
used air strikes in their own territory against their own people---- the
Pakistanis against the Balochs, the Russians against the Chechens and the Sri
Lankans against the Tamils.
14. President Mahinda Rajapakse has repeatedly promised that once the LTTE is
defeated, he would be generous in meeting the political aspirations of the
Tamils. He gives the impression of being a sincere man, but will the Sinhalese
Army with its head bloated by its success against the LTTE allow him to do so?
The indicators till now are not encouraging. Many Sri Lankan officers might have
been trained in India, but their mindset and their attitude towards the
minorities have more in common with those of their Pakistani counterparts than
with those of their Indian counterparts. Therein lies the danger that after
winning the war against the LTTE, the Government, strongly influenced by a
victorious army, might try to impose a dictated peace on the Tamils.
15. If the angry Tamils once again look up to India, there is no reason why we
should not reciprocate provided a new leadership emerges in the Tamil community
and it has drawn the right lessons from the brutalities of the LTTE.
16. The LTTE is deservedly dying, but long live the Tamil cause.