By Satheesan Kumaaran
The Indian Central Government led by the Congress Party does not want the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to lose or gain political, military and economic powers as India prefers to keep Sri Lanka as a buffer state in the Indian Ocean. India’s location in the Indian subcontinent as a pyramid state allows India to create three buffer states in the region for its own benefit –Kashmir, Tibet, and Sri Lanka. India is very well aware that the majority of Sinhalese will not be loyal to India forever because Sinhalese fear being victimized by India as past Indian kings played crucial roles in changing their lives before Europeans invaded Sri Lanka.
Because the Sinhalese are concerned that the Indians will only deal with Sri Lanka for India’s own benefit, the Sinhalese feel secure in fostering relationships with China or Pakistan as these countries have little interest in Sri Lanka at the outset; except for China, who needs a corridor to control sea lanes in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka had given them Hampantota Harbour on a platter for which China now stands indebted.
The Eelam Tamils desire to obtain their right to self-determination, but are stymied by the Indian central government under the guidance of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and other senior advisors belonging to a self proclaimed race that claims supremacy over others and whose intent is to tarnish the Tamils. India believes that the creation of a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka would boost the morale for independence of the Indian Tamils, who are the majority in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union territory of Puduchchery, and India is concerned that the demand for a separate state would reappear. India also hesitates to bow to the people’s wishes for independence in Tamil Eelam because then it would have to hold a plebiscite in Kashmir in accordance with the United Nation’s resolution, which India has adamantly refused to heed for decades.
In addition, India does not want peace in Sri Lanka, because then both parties in conflict, respectively the Tamils and Sinhalese, would seek India’s aid to solve their problem. This would allow India to put pressure upon both warring sides. During this process, India could enjoy political advantages locally. If India solved the conflicts of its neighbouring Sri Lanka, it would show the world that India is the regional power. This would pave the way for India to deal unfettered with other countries in the region and prevent other world powers from intervening on Sri Lanka’s behalf. India would be elevated to a regional superpower not just politically, but militarily and economically as well.
As long as the conflict remains in Sri Lanka, India, with a “big brother” attitude, could enjoy the economic aspect of increased control, allowing the Indian Navy further egress into deep waters, even entering territorial waters of another country under the guise of fighting terrorists or pirates. To remain in the good graces of Sri Lanka, India fails to protect the lives of Indian Tamil fishermen who are shot occasionally by the Sri Lankan Navy. In its blind craze to woo Sri Lanka, India is not seeking the naval personnel who killed Indians to be brought to India for justice, whereas in Mumbai blasts, India rakes Pakistan with the issue to hand over their citizens and even appeals to the United Nations.
However, the real reason behind India’s naval expansion is to demonstrate its military prowess to the world and prove that it could do anything to crush these elements. The best example is the one incident that took place near Somalia late last year where Indian naval officers played a crucial role in securing the ship from pirates. This showed the world that India could play a much greater role to the global peace.
When the armed Indian Navy entered into Sri Lanka’s seas from international waters, they destroyed several ships allegedly belonging to the LTTE. However, neither the LTTE nor Indian defence officials acknowledged the events. All these events showed the world that India would not be a silent spectator in the region, but it could do anything possible to create a peaceful Indian Ocean rim under its total command.
India plays petty politics in the lives of nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians who have been caught in the middle of fighting between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE in Vanni of northern Sri Lanka. Although many governmental and non-governmental organizations have come forth in condemning the acts of violence, the neighbouring India remained a spectator. Of late, due to political pressure from Tamil Nadu and being put to shame by other countries which express solidarity with Tamil sufferings, India now voices its concern in mute. It throws bouquets and not brickbats at Sri Lanka while indulging in sugar coated words for Tamils.
Due to the unrest in its southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the Union Territory of Puducherry over the genocide of Tamils by the Sri Lankan state, and also to compromise with the Tamil Nadu government led by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) as it is one of the allies in the ruling United People Alliance (UPA) government led by the Congress Party, the Central Government reluctantly sent the Indian foreign minister to Colombo for negotiations with the Sri Lankan leaders. On the completion of the visit, the Indian foreign minister returned empty handed, never reaching his mission to push the Sri Lankan government to declare ceasefire. Rather, he returned home after claiming that Sri Lanka would create peace on the island only after winning the LTTE militarily.
Failure of the peaceful attempts and democratic protests since the early 1950s resulted in arming the Tamil youths in the 1970s. They began their struggle militarily in the early 1980s. Although the LTTE negotiated an agreement with the Sri Lankan state in the past, all their talks were futile. Even the Norwegian-backed peace talks failed few years ago and officially, the agreement was annulled after Sri Lankan government, led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, withdrew from the agreement unilaterally in 2008.
In another example of diplomatic failure, the Indian foreign minister told the press that the Indian government will aid Sri Lanka in re-building the war affected areas. In return, the Sri Lankan government thanked the Indian government for its gesture and for supporting the Sri Lankan government in their fight against the LTTE. However, the Tamils in India protested against the Indian foreign minister because he did not exert due pressure on the Sri Lankan government to declare ceasefire and failed to urge the Sri Lankan government to stop the hostilities.
The current crisis is unfolded by the Sri Lankan government with the aim to fight terrorism; however, in actuality, their true purpose is to unleash state terrorism against its own minority Tamils in the northeast. While millions of Tamils the world over cry for peace in Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka, the Indian Central Government continues to play sinister politics for its geo-political ambitions.
It is clear that India wants to maintain Sri Lanka as its buffer state in its southern tip while making Kashmir in the Northwest and Tibet in the Northeast as buffer zones in the triangular Indian subcontinent. The problems of Kashmir and Tibet will not be solved in the near future as India wants these conflicts to remain, allowing these regions to act as buffer regions while making Sri Lanka a buffer state in the southern tip off India.
It is imperative that the millions of Tamils the world over realize the real image and true colours of the Indian central government and make wise choices in protecting their brethren living in Sri Lanka as nearly 300,000 Tamils fight for their own survival in the middle of the war zone in the north between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces.