The Sri Lankan Government of Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power promising to take a tough line against the LTTE and to `recapture’ the territories held by the LTTE. Indeed, in April 2009, Mr. Rajapaka visited Killinochi after a major military
offensive that claims to have decimated the LTTE. The military offensive has included, according to limited press reports as the Government had already imposed major restrictions on the press in the eastern and northern regions, preceded by murders of well-known journalists and other persons of conscience who dared to speak out against the policies and actions of the Government and the armed forces and engineering of defection of factions of the LTTE, massive and indiscriminate bombings, and even the use of thermobaric or white phosophorous weapons banned by international conventions. The Government has been crowing over its `achievement’ and claims to have ushed in peace and unification of the island just in time for the Hindu (read Tamil) New Year. Independent observers have stated that the Defence Minister Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of Mahinda, and Mr. Sarath Fonseka, the Army chief are openly behind this genocidal policy and there is enough evidence to have them prosecuted for war crimes. The waters are often muddied by reports in the press, and statements from European observers who have played an active role as `peacemakers’ that it is the LTTE that has been using civilians as `human shields’. While there is much speculation about the fate of the LTTE leader Mr. Pirapaharan and there are frequent reports of injuries sustainted by him and his son Mr. Charles Anthony, the scorecard clearly states that it is the Tamil people of Sri Lanka who are the victims. By merely talking about the military aspect, the Sri Lankan Government wishes to bury the underlying problem which is that of the national question on the Sri Lankan island. By repeatedly stating that the Sinhala population is numerical majority the major figures in the Government wish to ignore the legitimate claim of the Tamil people to nationhood. Rather than approaching the problem arising from the national liberation in 1948 in a principled manner, successive Governments have united under the banner of Sinhala chauvinism to crush underfoot the national aspiration of other minorities that have lived on the island over millenia.
Turning now to the question of the reaction of the Indian ruling circles to the issues above, it may be stated that these have merely paid lip service to the humanitarian issues that have arisen in the latest round of hostilities, while providing diplomatic and logistical assitance to the Sri Lankan Government. Political leaders in Tamil Nadu on the other hand, have been forced to raised questions in Parliament and elsewhere about the behaviour of the Indian Government but to no avail. Noting here that no other Government in south Asia has openly carried out such an atrocious genocial war against a section of its own population, the acts of the Sri Lankan Government are now unprecedented. The reasons for the duplicity of the Indian Government are many. These include the fact that there are several unresolved national issues in the Union of India. Therefore, an outright condemnation of the acts of the Sri Lankan establishment who set a nasty precedent that others may follow in criticism of the Indian Government in the future. Furthermore, in the post 9/11, Afghan and Iraq war eras, the USA and its allies have demonstrated that they are willing to break every established norm of warfare with no holds barred as regards civilian casualties ("collateral damage"), a cue that has been followed by the Sri Lankan Government. Since the Indian Government has never raised its voice in the former, it has no moral grounds of any kind to now criticize the latter. Finally, in its efforts to isolate Pakistan, Indian is looking to other regional allies for unstinted support, and from considerations of realpolitik unable to raise its voice agains Sri Lanka.
Given the grim scenario above, what are the Indian people to do? There must be the recognition that the Indian people are the fraternal peoples of every one of the peoples of the region. The ruling circles in each of these countries are the most significant enemies of the people in each of the countries, who are each presiding over extremely unfair, unjust and brutual colonial and post-colonial states, and will stop at nothing to consolidate their respective positions and crush underfoot the aspirations of one, several and all the peoples of the region. What has happened to the Tamil people in Eelam could yet happen tomorrow to the Kashmiri people, the Manipuris, the Nagas and others. The prevention of atrocities against any of the peoples of India must begin with a serious discussion of what constitutes India and working out of definitions of rights of peoples and of nations. The positing of the problem in Sri Lanka as one that sought a military solution was the origin of the disaster that the Tamil people have face. There must the recognition of the problem as a political, cultural and social one, indeed as is the case in so many regions that constitute India. The idea that every problem is one of `law and order’ and one of `development’ rather than as political ones should be combated. In this regard, it is only the working people of India that can provide solutions to the national question — it cannot be provided by the present day Indian ruling circles for every Indian person is a servant, for who every territory is merely there to be plundered by them and is supplier of cheap labour for them.
by B. Ananthanarayan