LTTE was authoritarian body sans ideology — Wikileaks

Monday, 15 April 2013 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI

For those who romanticise the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran, it may come as a shock. The LTTE, which fought a long drawn out dreaded war with the Sri Lankan Government for a separate

Tamil nation, was neither romantic nor democratic. It was devoid of any ideology other than terrorist activities. This is what a 2600-word report sent as cable by the US Embassy in the island nation to the Department of States say about LTTE and its leaders whom many Tamils venerate as iconic figures.

The report dated February 12, 1987, was prepared by the US political agent after conversations with local Tamils in Jaffna, intelligence officials of the Sri Lankan Government, Army officers and journalists who maintained close rapport with the Tigers.

According to the findings of the US official, a separate Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka dominated by the LTTE would have been a sure recipe to the region’s instability and disaster. “An LTTE-controlled Tamil Eelam would likely to be an unhappy place for Tamils , even many of those supportive of the separatist movement,” said the report which was dispatched as a cable to the States Department.

The report describes LTTE as a divided house and there were many cleavages. “Tamils drawn from Jaffna were pitted against non-Jaffna Tamils, Hindu Tamils fighting with Christian Tamil groups, caste groupings and regional rivalries with Easterners fighting the Northerners,” said the report. Jaffna region had the upper hand in the running of the organisation while Tamils from other regions were at the mercy of Prabhakaran. The LTTE chief, known all over the world for his revolutionary warfare strategies, was superstitious and choosy about his subordinates.

The resignation of Col Karuna (Vinayagamoorthy Muralidharan) from the LTTE in 2004 substantiates the US report. Karuna from Batticaloa, rose to become the bodyguard of Prabhakaran but fell out with the Tiger chief charging that the latter always favoured Jaffna Tamils. Karuna is the vice-president of Sri Lankan Freedom Party headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Contrary to the general belief that the LTTE was built on ideology and discipline, the US investigation found that the organisation never had any ideology to boast of. A regime controlled by the LTTE is apt to be a military dictatorship in the guise of a socialist one-party system. When the report was sent, the LTTE was dominated by low and middle caste Hindus from Jaffna who formed the core of the terrorist organisation.

The report said that by 1987, the LTTE had cowed rival militant groups and established a functioning civil administration in territories under its control. Though not much is known about the educational and professional backgrounds of Prabhakaran, he had converted the organisation into a well-structured establishment.

According to the US report made public as part of the WikiLeaks exposure, the LTTE structure reminded one of a tight pyramid with power concentrated at the apex-Prabhakaran. “Based on its structure and operation style, Prabhakaran would dominate the Eelam. It is a highly centralised and authoritarian organisation sans any ideology. But the LTTE was plagued by cleavages based on regions, caste and religion,” said the report.

Though the report does not give much details about the antecedents of Prabhakaran, it pointed out that there was no differentiation between the LTTE’s political and military hierarchy. Prabhakaran had divided the LTTE into five politico-military regions, each commanded by a regional leader reporting only to Prabhakaran.

“Everyone is required to take an oath of allegiance to Prabhakaran. The regional leaders were picked by Prabhakaran himself on the basis of trust, loyalty and experience. Sathasivam Krishnakumar, the Jaffna region commander was a close relative of Prabhakaran. Both hailed from the fishermen community. Though Sathasivam Krishnakumar , popularly known as Kittu, was a school drop-out he has been described as “an eccentric but rich undergraduate”. He is reported to have told a Colombo journalist,” The Tigers are revolutionary socialists whose ultimate aim is the creation of a one-party socialist State”. Though the Tamil media used to describe him as a full-Colonel, the US report says he was a rash driver and a poor marksman. He lost one of his legs in a car accident

Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Vavuniya were the five regions which constituted the Eelam. “Number five is considered lucky in Tamil Hindu mythology. It is because of this reason Prabhakaran set up five regional commands,” the report quotes a Sri Lankan Army official as saying. At the time of filing the report, the US agent had the details of only three regions with him.

The other regional commanders were Radha (Mannar) and Kumaran (Batticaloa). Details from Trincomalee and Vavunya were not available to the US officials. The Catholic fighters of the LTTE did not like Radha becoming the Mannar regional commander following the death of incumbent Victor “Mannar had more than 42 per cent Catholic population and they wanted only a Catholic to be their regional commander. Though they threatened they would resign en mass from the organisation, Prabhakaran dispatched Kittu to crush the dissidence. “Nobody resigns from LTTE,” Prabhakaran is reported to have sent this message through Kittu.

The cable said the iron discipline and effective coordination of the LTTE would probably be weakened in a post-Prabhakaran power struggle. Prabhakaran was bumped off by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the 2009 Eelam war. He had lost many of his trusted lieutenants much before that. Kittu went down with MV Ahat, a LTTE-owned ship ferrying arms to Jaffna.

By 2009 May, the top LTTE leadership was wiped out. What is remaining is a rump of the terrorists trying to regroup and recapture the Eelam regions from the Sri Lankan Army.

Though the cable is silent about how the LTTE mobilised arms and ammos, it mentions that Kumaran, the Batticaloa commander, had a station wagon with the name Beirut embossed on it. Radha, the Mannar region commander, is credited with the 1985 massacre of 150 civilians in Anuradhapura.

Statement of Dr.Swamy, President of the Janata Party – March 9, 2013

I demand that the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalitha give up her sectarian approach on the question of India’s relations with Sri Lanka and instead develop a national perspective.

Not only India has to look after the interests of Tamils but also of Sinhalese since they have kinship with Indians in Orissa, Bengal and Bihar. Therefore to ask that the Tamil interests should prevail over national interest is sectarian and unbecoming of any political leader with a national outlook and the national aspirations. Ms Jayalalitha must know that we are Indians first and Tamils later and anyone who says to the contrary has to be treated as a traitor and a dangerous secessionist.

On the question of alleged atrocities committed by Sri Lankan Navy on Indian fishermen, this problem has arisen because Mr. Karunanidhi in 1974 as Chief Minister gifted away Kachhativu Island on the shores of which are available the best prawns in the world. Therefore, Mr. Karunanidhi had destroyed Tamil interests by collaborating with the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to give Kachhativu Island to Sri Lanka. Now Tamil Nadu is paying a heavy price for his betrayal of Tamil interests.

It is surprising that students of Law colleges in Tamil Nadu are increasingly becoming lawless and violent. It is time that the Tamil Nadu derecognize those Law colleges whose students do not show respect for the Constitution and instead engage in violence.


Assessing Sri Lankan Northern province, 3 years after the war – RK Radhakrishnan, Oct. 31, 2012

In a series of articles for The Hindu, and a cover story for Frontline magazine, Nirupama Subramanian, now Associate Editor of  The Hindu, who was based in Colombo from 1995 and 2002, and I, based in Colombo since Dec.2010, have attempted to bring forth how the war-ravaged Northern Province looks and copes today, three years after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers.

We traveled extensively in the province, looked at the developments and spoke to a wide cross section of people across the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni, before we wrote a series of articles for The Hindu, and for Frontline. In all, we have compiled three stories for Frontline – one, a largish, 6000-word piece on what the ground looks like, and how the people perceive it, another on the government’s view point, as articulated by its Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris, and a third, which looks at the infrastructure development that is taking place across the Northern Province.

The Frontline issue dates Nov.3-16, 2012 (Volume 29, Issue 22), went online on October 30. The print edition is out on the stands in India.

All pictures, barring two, are mine. I am not a professional photographer: I am on the learning curve and have been taking pictures for The Hindu and Frontline regularly since I have been posted in Colombo. The Hindu’s Chief Photographer, N.Sridharan, approved a suggestion of Editor Siddharth Varadarajan, to allot me a professional camera (D-7000). Photo Editor D.Krishnan, and Senior Photographer S.R.Raghunathan, put me through the paces. It is difficult to assess the pictures in the online edition since only low-res pictures have been used for the online version!

Here are the link to the three stories:

Our assessment:

The GL Peiris interview:

Development efforts in the North:

Assessing Sri Lankan Northern Province, 3 years after the war


  In a series of articles for The Hindu, and a cover story for Frontline magazine, Nirupama Subramanian, now Associate Editor of  The Hindu, who was based in Colombo from 1995 and 2002, and I, based in Colombo since Dec.2010, have attempted to bring forth how the war-ravaged Northern Province looks and copes today, three years after the defeat of the Tamil Tigers. We traveled extensively in the province, looked at the developments and spoke to a wide cross section of people across the Jaffna peninsula and the Vanni, before we wrote a series of articles for The Hindu, and for Frontline. In all, we have compiled three stories for…

A war memorial and LTTE’s last stand


  (The second in the series by Nirupama Subramanian and me for The Hindu)   PUTHUKUDIIRRIPU: In the heart of northern Sri Lanka, at the place where thousands of civilians are believed to have been killed during the military’s last successful push against the LTTE, stands an…

In Prabhakaran’s birth place, a different kind of hero


By Nirupama Subramanian and R.K.Radhakrishnan (The Hindu’s Associate Editor, Nirupama Subramanian, who was based in Sri Lanka between 1995 and 2002 and I, Hindu’s correspondent for Sri Lanka now, travelled extensively in Jaffna and the Vanni early this month, for a short series of articles that focuses on the ground situation. The first in the series.) VALVETTITHURAI (JAFFNA): In the town that cradled Sri Lankan Tamil militancy and was the birthplace of its most ferocious practitioner Velupillai Prabhakaran, a different sort of legend is now getting belated attention. The urban council of VVT, as the small town on the north…

Full text of Subramanian Swamy’s speech


  Note: Swamy spoke extempore.  This is the text he circulated. Of course, you won’t find his one-liners. One went like this: “They [Diaspora Tamils] don’t consider me a Tamil. I don’t consider then human.” RK Essentials of Post-Conflict Reconciliation & India’s Concerns Introduction The world witnessed a historic event in May 2009, when in a final assault of the Sri Lankan armed forces, a treacherous and murderous terrorist outfit called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam [LTTE] was decimated. Its Supremo V. Prabhakaran and his main associates were killed on May 19th. Correctly disregarding the…

Huge task ahead of us, says Fonseka


    Just a few hours after he was released from the Welikada prison, former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka, who had a gruelling day, talked to R.K.Radhakrishnan, for the first time, about his priorities, and his plans, at his residence. Regardless of the conditional pardon that restricts his political career in the immediate future, Fonseka is determined to work for the people.   Q: Your comments on your journey so far…   A: During the presidential election I had limited political experience. But as I have seen people, I have come to know the politicians of this country and I have learnt more about the aspirations of the…

Stage set for Fonseka release


  R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: The stage has been set for the release of the jailed General Sarath Fonseka, contrary to speculation that a procedural delay was delaying his leaving the Hospital where he was shifted to last week.   “President Mahinda Rajapaksa signed the papers on the 18th evening and handed over the papers to Chief of Staff Gamini Senerath before leaving forQatarto enable the release of Sarath Fonseka. Papers will be sent to the Ministry of Justice on Monday,” Bandula Jayasekara, Presidential Spokesman, said early on Sunday.   Speculation on his release date began doing the rounds after The Hindu…

Who is Neranjan that Lalith Weeratunga highlights?


   R.K.Radhakrishnan Who is this Neranjan, who was involved in the CTO blasts in Colombo, in mid-1980s?  Sri Lankan President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga, quoting a passage from C.A.Chandraprema’s ‘Gota’s War,’ says that he was released, after being arrested, on India’s request.  The Indian Intelligence will be better placed to answer:  Appended here is the anti-India portions that Lalith Weeratunga read out: “Undoubtedly, the role that our neighbourIndiaplayed, is under intensive discussion in the book. From page-134 onwards, the author describesIndia’s role in different eras of the…

‘India has sponsored terrorism in Sri Lanka’


‘R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: The Indian intelligence agencies had a big hand in planning and executing terrorist strikes inColomboin the mid-eighties, the President’s Secretary Lalith Weeratunga said.Readingfrom a book, Gota’s War,’ at its launch here, he said, the…

Waheed to discuss crucial Maldivian issues in Delhi


R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: A host of complex issues will come up for deliberations as Maldivian President Waheed Hassan Manik, arrives inNew Delhion Friday, soon after the successful visit of the former Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed toIndia.   Dr.Waheed, the former…

Sri Lanka transfers its face in Geneva


    R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: At the end of a short-lived war waged through the media by a few diplomats, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry on Tuesday said that it had transferred Ambassador to the United Nations inGeneva, Tamara Kunanayakam, and appointed “team player” Ravinatha Aryasinha as the new ambassador.   Aryasinha, is now the Ambassador of Sri Lanka toBelgium,Luxembourgand the European Union. Kunanayakam, a Tamil, was showcased as the Sri Lankan face during the last United Nations Human Rights Council meet inGeneva, has been posted toCuba.   The media war began soon after the UN Human Rights…

Nasheed in campaign mode after revamping party


    R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: After completing a purge in the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), former President Mohamed Nasheed has begun campaigning for the Presidential election primaries.   The dates for the election are yet to be announced. The political parties in theMaldives, a country of about 1200 islands, are yet to arrive at a consensus on when the elections should be held.   After a few set backs, including two electoral reverses, Mr.Nasheed decided it was time to re-organise the party. Last week, the MDP removed its president Ibrahim Didi, and deputy Alhan Fahmy, at an emergency meeting of the…

Muslim register massive protest


Dambulla and Colombo R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: Muslims gathered in mosques in unusual numbers across the country for special Friday prayers to appeal to the Almighty to prevent the shifting of a mosque in Dambulla. The eastern province, which has a significant number of Muslims, virtually shut down in Friday, for a second day, protesting the desecration of the mosque in Dambulla, a town about 150 km north east ofColombo.   Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne had ordered relocation of the mosque from Dambulla, as mobs and some people in the robes of Buddhist monks had launched a sudden protest against the mosque on April…

Today’s Juma crucial


  R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: Salat al juma (Friday prayers) in Sri Lanka will attract attention from afar and near: today’s prayers and the sermons that follow, will determine which direction the country’s Muslim minority will take to salvage its rights. It was last Friday that a mob, comprising of Buddhist radicals, wanted a mosque demolished, because it was built in a place considered sacred by Buddhists.   Trouble is brewing in the Muslim majority areas of Sri Lanka, following the attempts to desecrate a mosque built in an area sacred to Buddhists in Dambulla, a town about 150 km north east of Colombo, and the…

AfterKrishna, its Sushma’s turn to be painted a lair


  R.K.Radhakrishnan   COLOMBO: After Indian Foreign Minister S.M.Krishna, it isIndia’s Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s turn to be insinuated as lying after meeting the Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.   Soon after Mr.Krishna meet the President in January 2012, the Indian side released to the press a statement, which said that the President had agreed to the implementation of the 13th Amendment (which grants some powers to the provinces) as a means to cater to the hopes and aspirations of Tamils in the Northern Province. Then too, there was no briefing from the government side. A day later, the government’s…

Sushma Swaraj’s Answers

  Q:Sri Lankahas promised devolution of powers to meet the aspirations of Tamils in May 2009 (to Ban Ki-moon, July 2010 (to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), in January 2012 to S.M.Krishna. In your discussions with the Sri Lankan President did you feel that they were serious about…

Spy case filed in Tamil Nadu against Pakistani diplomat in Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Saturday, 22 September 2012, 16:34 GMT]
Amir Zubair Siddiqui, a diplomat in the Pakistan High Commission in Colombo has been accused in a court in Tamil Nadu for his alleged spy activities in India. According to the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the Tamil Nadu Police in a court in Tiruchy, the Pakistani diplomat, through his contacts Haji and Shaji living in Colombo, has employed Thamim Ansari of Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu to supply sensitive information of defence installations in India. The Q Branch of Tamil Nadu police arrested Ansari on Monday, while he was going to the Tiruchy airport to catch the Colombo flight. The DVDs seized from him had defence-related visuals, news reports said.

Ansari, 35-year-old, was produced in the court on Friday. The judge granted 24 hours for the police to continue investigations on condition that no mental or physical pain should be inflicted on him. The police have to produce him on Saturday for any further decision.

According to media reports, preliminary investigations involving top police officials of Tamil Nadu have revealed that Ansari had earlier met the Pakistani diplomat in Colombo and undertook the assignment for payment. His next assignment was to cover the nuclear submarine facility in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

Three agencies of India, The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the intelligence wing of the Defence Ministry and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) will investigate Ansari separately, news reports said.

Preliminary investigations show a Pakistani espionage desk operating from Colombo concentrating on South India, media reports from India further said.

Citing RAW reports, The Pioneer said a few days ago that a Pakistani intelligence (ISI) listing post to tap the naval movements of India is in operation in Jaffna.

The spy arrest in Tamil Nadu this week has made Colombo-based Daily Mirror to report on Saturday that the ISI is “recruiting Lankan Tamils to spy on India, and the Mumbai-based Times of India to echo with a question “Is ISI recruiting Lankan Tamils to spy on India?”

Both citing ‘intelligence’ sources have targeted the Eezham Tamil refugees that the ISI is actively involved in recruiting Tamil refugees who had returned to the island, since they are familiar with India and could collect information without raising suspicions.

Meanwhile, 40 military personnel, 11 officers and 29 other ranks of the militaries of China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and India, participated in a 16-day training programme conducted by SL military at Vaakarai and Verukal in the country of Eezham Tamils, this month.

The programme organized by the SL Defence Secretary and presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa provided training to 2000 military personnel of Sri Lanka in the occupied country of Eezham Tamils.


True to the LTTE culture Anti-nuke leader goes underground


Monday , September 17 , 2012 |


Chennai, Sept. 16: S.P. Udayakumar, spearhead of the Kudankulam protests, is apparently moving to a different village every day to evade the police while the demand for his arrest gets shriller.

He has not appeared before TV cameras or at protest venues since going into hiding on Wednesday. His mobile is switched off, and he speaks only to his closest confidants from other phone numbers, a member of his inner circle said.

The man who had become the face and voice of the anti-nuclear protests over the past one year was a notable absence when villagers organised their Jal Satyagraha by standing in the sea on Thursday. It was the first time the 53-year-old former English teacher had missed a protest that invited wide media coverage.

On Saturday, he chose to address protesters, gathered in front of St Lourde’s Church at Idinthakarai near Kudankulam, over a mobile phone. His speech was relayed through the public address system.

Udayakumar went underground after the police made it clear they were going to arrest him for last Monday’s protests. That day, he had tried to lay siege to the nuclear plant along with 4,000 people, leading to a police crackdown and the death of a protester in firing.

On Tuesday, Udayakumar had offered to surrender after the police filed cases against him and four frontline organisers on charges such as inciting violence and waging war against the nation. But he was apparently dissuaded by supporters, who whisked him away in a boat on Wednesday.

“If the police’s lathi-charge and tear-gassing of villagers was an extreme step, this move by the authorities to hunt down the movement’s leaders is taking it to a crass level,” alleged a friend of Udayakumar.

Agitation supporters cite how the police picked up Satish, a Chennai-based activist, when he tried to drum up support for the movement among college students.

Officers, however, point out that although 300-odd cases have been filed over the years against Udayakumar for violating prohibitory orders and conducting public meetings without permission, this is the first time they have sought to arrest him.

“He crossed the line by getting the villagers to lay siege to the plant and planning to gatecrash into the facility. We have recordings of his phone conversations to prove his real designs,” a senior officer said.

“Since every nuclear facility is a high-security area, the CISF will shoot a trespasser first and ask questions later. He would have turned the villagers into unsuspecting targets of gunfire once they had breached the outer perimeter. That is why we had to disperse them with tear gas and a lathi-charge, and have had to go looking for Udayakumar.”

“Realise That You Are One People” Dr.Swamy’s advice to Srilankans and Tamilians


Dr Subramanian Swamy is a Member of Parliament from the National Democratic Alliance and President of the Janata Party in India. He is a man who stands for what he believes in and is known to be outspoken. He has vehemently opposed the LTTE and is a friend of the Sri Lankan people. He urges the government of Sri Lanka to bypass the TNA as he doubts their sincerity and go directly to the Tamil people.

Dr Swamy stresses that Sinhalese and Tamils should recognise that they are one people, where Aryan and Dravidian divides are mythical concepts that were perpetuated by colonial rulers in their campaign to divide and rule. “We may have differences, may have disagreements, but ultimately when the country’s future is at stake we should be one.” Wise words from a very wise man.


By Udeshi Amarasinghe | Photography Menaka Aravinda

What are your thoughts on the relationship between India and Sri Lanka?

It has gone through significant changes. The relationship between the two countries should have been very good from the beginning but unfortunately there were misunderstandings about the nature of the relationship. India gained Independence in 1947 and Sri Lanka in 1948. India should have been looking into our own neighbourhood and Asia but Jawaharlal Nehru had a European centric infatuation and as a consequence all these other relationships were ignored.

In the meantime Sri Lanka wanted to undo what the British had done. And, they tried to do this in a hurry. The British co-opted the Tamil population who in turn became their collaborators and as such the Tamils had a disproportionate share in services, universities and so on. After Independence, Sri Lanka brought in amendments such as Sinhala only and standardisation without thinking ahead and that led to bad blood. The Tamils looked to India to support them. As a result Tamils immediately began to be looked upon as an extension of India, when in fact both communities had come from India.

India over time became an advocate for Tamils, when they should have been advocates for both, because both communities had been a part of India and that is an acknowledged fact. We failed to rectify the distorted history, which the British had forced on us – India and Sri Lanka. The idea of Aryans and Dravidians, where the Sinhalese thought themselves as Aryans from North India and the Tamils as Dravidians from the South is actually a non existing concept that has now been thrown out of the door by DNA studies.

Then Rajiv Gandhi tried to rectify the damage his mother had done by training militants. She had a personal grudge against J R Jayawardene who was seen as pro-western. She thought she could do a Bangladesh type of operation where she would become a hero of the Tamils and the southern Indians. Rajiv tried to rectify this by having the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement. Unfortunately Sri Lanka under the leadership of Ranasinghe Premadasa entered into a collaboration with the LTTE and that led to strained relations between the two countries. The LTTE assassinated Rajiv Gandhi and then of course it all boomeranged because the LTTE was a terrorist organisation and they betrayed the agreement, they in fact assassinated Ranasinghe Premadasa.

During the period of the conflict India had assisted Sri Lanka substantially. We should have built on that but we made this big mistake of supporting the US backed UNHCR resolution. The general opinion in India was that we should not support the resolution because this is a knife that can be used both ways. It can be used against us too. And the Americans have no right to talk about Human Rights because of what they have done in Afganistan with their drone where innocent civilians have been killed.

But, the new problem that has arisen in India is the affiliation of Sonia Gandhi to pro-LTTE forces. She has written to the President of India that the killers of Rajiv Gandhi should not be hanged, which I do not think any widow of this sub continent would consider doing. She was the one who was insistent that India should support the US backed UNHCR resolution. I feel that the European powers have influenced her. As such the relations between Sri Lanka and India hit rock bottom. We were shocked.

We are now trying to improve bilateral relations. The government in India will change in the next elections. The new government will start with a clean slate.

What can each country do to strengthen the ties?

India should now focus on the economic side and they must invest in the Northern region where there has been very poor investment. Sri Lankan banks have gone there and have started giving loans and other facilities and as a result there is an improvement. India must stop being an advocate of Tamils, India must be an advocate of both, Sinhala and Tamil. We are Indians first and then only Tamil. Therefore this has been going on too long. India feels guilty regarding the Indian Tamil plantation workers who were brought back to India and then rendered stateless creating misery for them. There was over compensation when it came to the conflict with the LTTE. India should now play a role in construction especially economic construction of Sri Lanka. Later this may translate into better relations and we will become more credible. Initially Sri Lanka approached India for assistance to develop Hambantota but India did not want to upset the Tamils. I want to ask what Tamils? I too am a Tamil. 99 percent of Tamils are against the LTTE. Therefore all problems are because of a few leaders and their greed for money.
Another step that Sri Lanka can take to improve relations is to give the data that they have acquired from the interrogation of LTTE members about the money that has been given by the LTTE to certain politicians in India. We can expose them to show that they are doing this for money.

Tamil Nadu has exerted significant pressure on the central government of India which has resulted in decisions that are detrimental to Sri Lanka, what are your thoughts on this?

Well the primary influence is of Sonia Gandhi. I feel that her family has some connection with the LTTE, which needs to be probed. She has consistently come out in favour of the LTTE. Even in May 2009, she sent a letter to Prabakaran through a person by the name of Father Jasper to sign and she said then India will intervene openly in the LTTE’s favour. But that man was a terrorist and had no brains. He consulted Nedumaran and Vaiko who said that the government in India will change and a new coalition would be formed. Prabakaran believed them, but then on May 16 the same government was elected and it was too late for him to change his mind.

The New Problem That Has Arisen In India Is The Affiliation Of Sonia Gandhi To Pro-LTTE Forces.

At times it seems like the Tamils in India are more concerned about the Tamils in Sri Lanka, than the Tamils in this country. Why is that?

No, not at all. The Tamils in India are not at all concerned about the Tamils in Sri Lanka or any Tamils anywhere. It is the money factor that is making these people behave this way.

What is the agenda of the Tamil Nadu politicians? Why are they focusing on Sri Lanka? 

It is not that they have an agenda per se but if we take Karunanidhi after I caught him on corruption and his daughter was taken to prison, there is nothing that he can go to the public with. He is thinking this is the only way. He thinks that Jayalalitha will be defensive on that. On everything else she is offensive but on the subject of Tamils she is defensive. But he will come to grief on what he is doing.

The media in India too, propagate this negative image? why?

Well the problem is that the people who are against Sri Lanka are very well organised, large sums of money are circulated and journalists generally do not have the patience to do research. Most people do not know that Sinhalese come from India too. They do not know that there is high percentage of sanskrit words in the Sinhala language.

What are your thoughts on the current Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka, how can we encourage more moderate parties to enter politics?

There are Tamil leaders such as Chandrahasan and Douglas Devananda. Sri Lanka needs to create and bypass the TNA. The TNA is too tied up with LTTE history. I mean the TNAs hypocrisy is clearly seen in 2010, during the Presidential elections. In 2009-2010 they were going on about Human Rights violations and genocide conducted by the Sri Lankan Army. And then they end up accepting the Commander of the Army, Fonseka as their leader and candidate at the Presidential elections. The Tamils cannot rely on the TNA as many of them are compromised. Therefore we need alternative parties so that the people will have a choice.

During the conflict they surrendered to the LTTE and won elections with the support of the LTTE.

What is your message to them?

I am not going to give any message to the TNA. I’m asking the government to go straight to the public. The public has been talking to me and corresponding with me, and they tell me that they are very happy that their children are safe and they do not have to be worried about their children being forcibly recruited. That they do not have to give a portion of their salary to the LTTE. The people are happy because they are able to lead a normal life.

What are your thoughts on the progress achieved by the Sri Lankan government?

As far as reconstruction and resettlement they have done a first class job. But they need to go a step further on reconcilliation. The government must devolve some power. They should not worry about whether the power is misused because the constitution should have a safeguard clause. If the chief minister misuses his police, use the central police as we do in India. At the time I was a minister Karunanidhi misbehaved by assisting the LTTE. I dismissed the government in 1991. When the next elections was held Karunanidhi won only two seats from a total of 234.

You are very outspoken, that is very rare in a politician.

Yes it is because it hurts your career but for me in the long run I always win. There may be problems but in the long run it is always important to stand for what you believe in. I have been elected to parliament five times. I have been a minister twice. There are times when I say things which are very unpopular but people soon realise that I was right. Earlier, people used to think that I was too blunt. Now people say ‘he is honest that is why he is so blunt.’ Today honesty has become an issue. People say the others are cowards and this man speaks.

In Sri Lanka The People Should Realise That They Are One People. That Your Loss Is My Loss.

So at the next elections?

I am part of a coalition – the National Democratic Alliance. We will be in government and hopefully we will not have to wait till 2014. We will try to have the elections next year.


Final thoughts?

In the minds of both the Tamils and Sinhalese it should be that they are one people – Sri Lankans. You can say that the Tamil speaking people are a minority and the Sinhala speaking are the majority but they must agree that they are both one people. Stop living in purely Tamil areas and purely Sinhala areas. The government should give people incentives to intermingle. In India whatever differences we may have at the end of the day we are Indians first. In Sri Lanka the people should realise that they are one people. That your loss is my loss. Your gain is also my gain. We swim together or sink together. Sri Lanka has to get out of this Aryan-Dravidian mentality, which we in India have fought on and now it is finally out of our text books. Now there is DNA evidence. Your language is not different, you have a distinct language but not different. You have sanskrit words and the script is Brahmi, so there is this oneness that has to be fostered.

Sri Lanka: Moving from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil’ — Col R Hariharan


Sri Lanka: Moving from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil’ — Col R Hariharan

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August 20, 2012
Forthcoming Sri Lanka update in the South Asia Analysis Group is forwarded.

R Hariharan

Sri Lanka: Moving from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil’ – Update No 224

Col R Hariharan

Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi seems to have quietly acquiesced to New Delhi’s pressure to shift the focus of his widely publicized “Eelam Tamils’ Rights Protection Conference” on August 12 from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil.’ The exercise was more than semantics; except for two – Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthai Katchi (VCK) and Veeramani of the Dravida Kazagham (DK) – other mainline speakers hardly made a reference to an independent Tamil Eelam. Even Thiruma’s speech was mostly devoted to redeem Karunanidhi’s reputation damaged during the Eelam War-4.

Apart from representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, delegates from a number of European countries, Australia and Mozambique, Sweden, Nigeria were also present. Some of the overseas speakers (i.e. representatives from Sweden and Malaysia) devoted most of the speech to praise the ‘Kalaignar’ (artiste) Karunanidhi. However, Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne, the firebrand leftist leader from Sri Lanka, did not disappoint the participants; he came out hammer and tongs at the callous attitude of Sri Lanka in handling Tamils in the postwar period. Abdul Razak Momoh, member of Nigerian parliament, raised the question “If UN sanctions can be imposed on Iran for taking a nuclear route, why can’t they be imposed on Sri Lanka for indulging in human rights violations?”

At a preliminary meeting organized at a city hotel before the conference, Karunanidhi said the long-term solution to ensure the rights of Tamils was a political one, which had been discussed and debated for long. The medium term solution involved reconstruction of infrastructural and civic facilities in Tamil-majority areas in north and east to ensure a decent living for the people including the right to property, education, employment and other democratic rights. Immediate solution was to be found for resettlement, relief and rehabilitation for the war affected Tamils.

Conference resolutions

Though the 14 resolutions passed at the conference (given in annexure) cover the long, medium and short term issues, they lack logical coherence and continuity. No effort appears to have been made to structure or prioritise them to monitor action on them in a time bound manner. Broadly the resolutions seek action from either the UN or India on the following aspects:
Those relating to protecting the concept of Tamil nation, identity, language and culture; restoration of democratic rights denied to Tamils; removal of Sinhala settlements in Tamil areas leading to deprivation of opportunities for Tamils; Sinhala exploitation of natural resources in Tamil areas; and on improvement of quality of life of Tamils.
Those relating to war crimes and violation of human rights by Sri Lanka and seeking the withdrawal of Sri Lanka army from Tamil areas.
Other issues relating to India – status of Sri Lanka Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, fishermen issue, restoration of Katchtivu to India and Indian assistance to rebuild Tamil lives shattered by war. The resolution added as a tailpiece condemning the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) for its ‘hostility to Sri Lanka Tamils and their problems’ is totally out of place. It confirmed that AIADMK-bashing was a subsidiary agenda of the conference.
It is evident that Diaspora Tamil interest groups have played an important role in shaping the resolutions. For instance, the Global Tamil Forum has been demanding the appointment of an international committee on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council to go into the war crimes allegations and punish those found guilty. Sri Lanka Tamil leaders and civil society have also raised many of the issues contained in the resolutions on the floor of Sri Lanka parliament as well as in public forums.

The objective of the DMK in rallying India’s solidarity to the Diaspora Tamil campaign against Rajapaksa and taking Sri Lanka to task for the plight of Tamils in post-war period was only partly served as major political parties from India and Sri Lanka had avoided it. The political polemics over the theme of the conference was probably the reason for this.

Thus the conference missed a good opportunity to provide in-depth analyses of problems and come up original ideas on resolving them. It also did not recommend best options for producing the long, medium and immediate results that would impact Sri Lanka Tamils. As a result, the conference has provided only limited value addition.

The resolutions asked ‘the international community’, Government of India or the UN, ignoring the responsibility of primary stakeholders – Sri Lanka government, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim population and political parties – in finding solutions to their problems. This marginalizes the efforts of Tamil leaders locked in eye-ball to eye-ball political confrontation in the island.

Similarly the resolutions have not addressed what Tamil Nadu should do to help improve the situation except to castigate the AIADMK which is in power. Action plan to rally support for taking follow up actions on the resolutions have not been made public. Now the DMK is reported to be planning to take the conference message to the people. This would indicate that despite the lofty rhetoric on Tamil unity, Sri Lanka Tamil issue will continue to be a victim of polemics of Tamil Nadu politics.

So it is not surprising the resolutions provide no out of the box ideas to break the political impasse in the reconciliation process. Thus they are likely to appeal to the converted, which was apparently the limited purpose of the conference. No wonder the conference evoked only lukewarm response the conference both in the media (which had Olympic Games as priority No 1 on August 12) and among Tamils everywhere.

Pointers to the future

The fate of the conference was decided by judicial intervention after both the Centre and the AIADMK-ruled state, in a rare convergence of goals, did not want it to be held for their own reasons. The Centre dropped its reservation after Karunanidhi relented on using the “E-word” (Tamil Eelam). Karunanidhi’s back pedaling shows the DMK’s overriding desire to stay in the Congress-led coalition as it battles for political survival in the state. So we can expect the aging Dravidian leader to defer his “lifetime desire” to see the rise of an independent Tamil Eelam perhaps forever.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalitha indulged in no political rhetoric on the conference; but used the more effective police bureaucracy to try and scuttle the conference. While speaking at the Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony three days later, she urged the Centre to pressurise Sri Lanka to ensure rehabilitation of internally displaced Tamils back in their original settlement and also devolve equal powers on par with the Sinhalese. This clearly indicates that Kalaignar would not a have free run to exploit the Tamil issue to his political advantage.

The Centre has sent a clear message “thus far and no more” on its stand on Tamil Eelam to Tamil Diaspora by not allowing some of the de-striped Tamil Tigers and pro-Eelam lobbyists to participate in the conference. This was done not only to maintain India’s objection to Tamil separatism but also to act upon Sri Lankan concern on Diaspora Tamil separatists gaining a foothold in India. When pushed, New Delhi would probably take action to crack down on LTTE supporters in Tamil Nadu.

New Delhi did not allow a few others from Sri Lanka to attend the conference. This showed that despite India’s sympathies for Tamils, it was averse to allow the Tamil issue to eclipse its larger in interest in Sri Lanka.

The whole political mess stirred up by New Delhi and Tamil Nadu about the conference must have discouraged the more vociferous Tamil leaders from participation. Tamil Nadu leaders should understand that Sri Lanka Tamil leaders’ priority will continue to be to maintain working links with New Delhi rather than get entangled in partisan politics of Tamil Nadu.

Tailpiece: The DMK would do well to listen to Ram Vilas Paswan, president of Lok Janshakti Party, suggestion at the conference to make people in the rest of India aware of the sufferings of Lankan Tamils to mobilise mass support for their cause. He said people in North India mistake Lankan Tamil issue as an LTTE problem. Hopefully that will educate the rest of India on the Sri Lanka Tamil issue.

[Col R Hariharan a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. Blog: ]


Resolutions of the Eelam Tamils’ Rights Protection Conference held at Chennai on August 12, 2012
[Text courtesy:]

Resolution 1

This Conference expresses its gratitude to the Nations, which voted in favour of the Resolution passed in the Human Rights Council of the U.N.O. in May, 2012. The Resolution was based on the report of the Expert Committee, appointed by the U.N.O. for enquiring into the Genocide and Human Rights Violations in Sri Lanka. The Report was given to the U.N.O. in April, 2011.
This Conference requests the Human Rights Council of the U.N.O. to appoint a Supervisory Committee to oversee whether the Sri Lankan Government takes determined action as urged in the Resolution passed in the Human Rights Council of the U.N.O.

Resolution 2

There was mass-killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka during May, 2009. There was bombing in the areas notified as Safety-Zones and Hospitals. This was unprecedented and had not happened in any other war and therefore it should be called a State-sponsored Terrorism. Efforts to obliterate all traces of war-crimes were taken, so that the outside world did not come to know of them.
All these details have been made clear in the Report of the Three Member Team, headed by Darusman of Indonesia and constituted by Ban-ki-Moon, Secretary General of the U.N.O.

Even after a year since the Report was released, an Independent International Team of Experts has not been formed to examine the War-Crimes.

The Tamil Race, which has lost several thousands of lives, has now reached a stage to raise its voice demanding Justice.
This Conference urges the U.N.O. to appoint an International Committee on behalf of the Human Rights Council of the U.N.O. to go into the War-crimes and punish those found guilty of crimes.

Resolution 3

Sinhalisation of traditional Tamil areas is part of an evil design of the Sri Lankan Government, which has taken efforts to demolish the Tamils’ Cultural roots, apart from their endeavour to wipe out the Tamils’ way of living based on geographical factors.

Eezham Tamils’ educational institutions and the famous Jaffna Library were destroyed by the Sri Lankan Army. Hindu Temples, Mosques and Churches are being attacked and demolished and traces of Tamils’ Language is being mangled. Tamil Name Boards in shops and business establishments and Tamil names of Roads are changed and re-written in Sinhala Language. Sinhalisation of the names of places has become certain. In the North and East areas, infrastructural facilities required for settling Sinhalese are being constructed by the Sri Lankan Government.

Sri Lankan Tamils have been preserving their unique identity for a very long time. It is most condemnable that the Sri Lankan Government, while calling itself a democratic State, have been indulging in violent activity, which even the British did not have the courage to do and the world would not approve.

This Conference, therefore, appeals to the U.N.O., which is the representative institution of the Nations of the World, to immediately put an end to the atrocities of the Sri Lankan Government.

Resolution 4

India has the Duty, Right and Responsibility to undertake measures for ensuring peace and equality in the neighbouring Sri Lanka.
Indian Government has been protecting a number of Nationalities, Religions and Languages, as required by its democratic traditions. But contrary to this Indian situation, in the neighbouring Sri Lanka, there is no protection for the Tamil Nationality, Religion and Language. Therefore this Conference points out to the Indian Government that a question has naturally arisen in the hearts of Tamils as to why the Indian Government has been silent on the undemocratic developments in Sri Lanka.

The Indian Government should, therefore, take all necessary steps to ensure a total change of environment in Sri Lanka and a life of equality and peace to the Sri Lankan Tamils, by redeeming their political, economic and cultural rights.
This Conference urges the Government of India to bring forth a Resolution in the U.N.O., for bestowing full right to the Tamils in Sri Lanka to decide the political solution themselves, which they have been demanding.

Resolution 5

Most of the Tamils in the North and the East of Sri Lanka have been eking out their living under trees and in open places and are left to the favour of their relatives. The financial assistance given to those leaving the camps is very small. These families have to struggle for their basic needs. As there is no job available for them to do, the re-settled Tamils are put to hellish agonies. Lands and Houses of Eezham Tamils are forcibly grabbed. Several thousands of Acres of Land owned by Tamils in areas like Sambur, Mannar and Vavuniya have been taken by force.

This Conference, therefore, urges the U.N.O. to formulate measures to put an end to such cruelty, forcing the Tamils to live in their own Home-land as refugees, since their traditional lands were snatched by force.

Resolution 6

Today in Sri Lanka the presence and power of the Army are more predominant than democratic system of Government. The Army has taken over a very large number of houses of the Tamils for their activities. The Army has brought vacant houses under its control and has been refusing to vacate. No social function could be held in the houses of Tamils in the North and East without the permission of the Army.

Only the Army men are appointed as District Administrators and Government functionaries there. Tamil Eezham today looks like an Army-Camp. There is no way out for the Tamils to air their grievances, talk or peacefully agitate in the absence of democratically- elected local bodies. They are under constant panic.

Number of Tamil youth have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Many Tamils are subjected to untold agony and suffering in the Torture-Camps. Tamil women are put to all kinds of abuses by the Army. Tamil children are kept in full glare of the Guns. They live in perpetual fear, having been affected by the violence unleashed by the Army.

The Annual Statement for 2011 released by the External Affairs Ministry of the U.K. says that about 90 thousand Tamil women have been widowed, as a consequence of the War. Their future has become bleak. As a further threat to their lives, the Army are putting them to torturous treatments and abuses.

This Conference, therefore, pleads with the U.N.O. and Nations of the World, to bring pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to withdraw the Army from the Tamil Areas immediately. This Conference further requests the U.N.O., to constitute an International Committee to directly supervise withdrawal of the Army.

Resolution 7

The Trade and Commercial Life of Eezham Tamils suffers at the hands of Sinhalese due to their interference and intimidation. The Army has encroached all the areas of Civil life and brought the economy under its control. Activities like farming, vegetable trade, hotels, restaurants and barber-shops have been taken over by the Army. There were before many shops with sellers on the A-9 Highway from Jaffna to Colombo. But now all those shops have been encroached upon by the Ex-Sinhalese Army Men. Sinhalese shops have come up in the areas of Nallur Kandaswamy Temple.

Tamils’ resources in Tamil Eezham Areas are being exploited. Sinhalese are mining lime-stone available in plenty in the Northern areas and taking them away. Sand and forest wealth have started moving towards the South from the Northern and Eastern Areas. Rights of Minerals endowed by Nature to the Sons of the Soil are being gravely violated.

Sinhala-fishermen are being settled in the areas traditionally under occupation by the Tamil-fishermen in the coastal areas of the North and East. This has affected the livelihood of Tamil fishermen.

Sinhalese forcibly settled in Tamil areas should be sent back and Tamils should again be declared as the rightful owners of the natural resources, trade and commerce. This conference appeals that the U.N.O. should urge the Sri Lankan Government to take steps immediately to restore normalcy in the life of the Tamils.

Resolution 8

U.N.O. should take steps to entrust to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the Tamils, who had fled, fearing attacks of the army in the Eezham areas and the Tamils living in distress in various countries as refugees and the Tamils, who are put in prisons abroad, as they had left their own country and did not have proper documents. Further, this Conference requests that the U.N.H.C.R. to initiate steps for the grant of required financial aid and travel documents.

Resolution 9

This Conference urges the Government of India to grant Indian Citizenship Right or Permanent Resident Status to all the Refugees, who have come from Sri Lanka and have been living in India, to lead a contented life. This Conference also urges that U.N. Protocol on Refugees should be followed in India.

Resolution 10

Tamils in Eezham areas should be given all required fundamental rights of living and democratic rights. This Conference considers that the Rehabilitation of Sri Lankan Tamils will be an eye wash and will remain a distant dream, unless violation of their basic rights is stopped.

Therefore this Conference firmly believes that only the following steps will enable Eezham Tamils to lead a life of dignity and self respect;

A Referendum should be conducted with the Sri Lankan Tamils through the U.N.O. It should be highlighted as South-Asian Human Rights Issue.

No Race or people can survive or preserve their racial identity or language, if their culture is lost. The Sri Lankan Government should ensure protection of Tamil Culture and Language. But it is a saddening fact that the Sri Lankan Government have been taking all possible efforts to destroy Tamils’ culture and language. Tamil Language is being weakened, without bestowing on it the status of official language. Action has been taken to destroy Tamil tradition in all fronts.

Thousands of Tamils, who have been imprisoned, should be freed.

Sri Lankan Tamils, who have gone to various countries of the world from their Home-land, leaving their traditional places of residence, out of sheer fear for their life should be allowed to freely and safely come and go to their mother-land without any restriction.
Fully-functioning schools and Universities, filling up of teacher vacancies in all North and Eastern districts are priority needs for brightening the future of Tamil Children and improving their literacy.

Medical facilities should be ensured with specialized services to the war-affected people. Mental and Neural depression and stress conditions, which are due to war and loss of family, should be addressed.

Tamils’ houses, shops, commercial complexes, schools,colleges and roads damaged by the Sri Lankan army should be repaired and restored. Rs. 500 crore granted by the Indian Government as rehabilitation assistance for the Tamils should be properly made use of for these works.

This Conference appeals that India, in co-ordination with the countries of the world, should come forward to play its primary role in implementing these solutions.

Resolution 11

It is our foremost duty to protect Indian fishermen from attacks on them by the Sri Lankan Navy, while ensuring protection and relief to Sri Lankan Tamils. The un-armed and innocent Tamil Fishermen are being mercilessly attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy. They are shot at and killed. Their Fishing-Boats are sunk in the Sea. Their Catch of Fish is seized.

Tamil-Fishermen are being treated by the Sri Lankan Navy in an inhuman manner.

As the “Katcha-Thivu”, which was within the territories of India, was entrusted with the Sri Lankan Government, Sri Lankan Navy is harassing and attacking the Tamil Fishermen, even when they go near this area.

This Conference urges the Government of India to put an end to this atrocity, by bringing “Katcha-Thivu” under its control and establishing an Indian Navy Unit to be stationed at Dhanushkodi.

Resolution 12

This Conference is unable to accept imparting training to the Sri Lankan Army men in any State in India, as it affects the Sri Lankan Tamils. This Conference, therefore, urges the Government of India to avoid completely training to the Sri Lankan Army men.

Resolution 13

A threatening announcement has been made on behalf of the Sri Lankan Government that this Conference, which is being conducted for the Protection of Right to Life and Livelihood of Eezham Tamils, is unlawful and that those going to Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka for participating in the Conference are being watched. This Conference strongly condemns the undemocratic attitude of the Sri Lankan Government.

Resolution 14

The A.D.M.K. and A.D.M.K. Administrators have always been hostile to the problem of Sri Lankan Tamils. Continuing this tendency, a series of difficulties were caused to stop the Conference and permission was refused through the Police Department to the Conference which we proposed to hold in Chennai for the protection of rights of Eezham Tamils and in which a number of dignitaries from various countries including Sri Lanka were to participate.

A situation was thus created forcing us to go to the Court to obtain permission for the Conference. This Conference strongly condemns the anti-Tamil Eezham attitude of the ADMK Government.

A tale of two interventions — Col. R. Hariharan

R. Hariharan July 28, 2012

A quarter century on, India’s military involvement in Sri Lanka remains relevant as a lesson in poor leadership in contrast to the 1971 war to liberate East Pakistan

The India-Sri Lanka Agreement 1987, also known as the Rajiv-Jayawardene Accord, completes 25 years on July 29. As a soldier who actively participated in India’s military intervention in both Sri Lanka (1987-90) and East Pakistan in 1971 (that created Bangladesh), I cannot help comparing the two exercises in the assertion of India’s power.

The two theatres, and the environment in India at the time of the two operations, were totally different. In Bangladesh, it was conventional war against the well trained Pakistan army. India went into it after much military planning and preparation. In contrast, in Sri Lanka, the army got embroiled in counter-insurgency combat with Tamil insurgents, for which it was unprepared. Force levels in Bangladesh were much higher. The air force and navy formed part of the overall offensive plan. In Sri Lanka it was essentially a decentralised infantry operation against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Biggest difference

The biggest difference was perhaps in the tasks given to the army. The objective of the 1971 war was not the capture of East Pakistan, but the establishment of an independent Bangladesh government on East Pakistan soil. In contrast India’s military intervention in Sri Lanka came with a vague mandate to “guarantee and enforce cessation of hostilities” (between the Sri Lanka Army and Tamil militants) as part of the Rajiv-Jayawardene Accord. There was no mention of fighting anyone.

There were similarities too between the two outings. In both, India had broader strategic objectives with Cold War connotations to curtail American influence in South Asia. India also thought it in its national interest to help people asserting their rights — in East Pakistan, the Bengalis, and in Sri Lanka, the Tamil minority. Both interventions were preceded by the affected communities rising up to fight their state forces.

The 1971 war served Indian strategic goals by cutting Pakistan’s access, and that of its ally, the U.S., to eastern India. It also met the aspirations of the people who wanted to be freed from the yoke of Pakistan. India did not politically intervene before East Pakistan’s unchallenged leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, declared independence on March 26, 1971. After that it took over eight months to go into the war.

The war lasted barely two weeks from December 3 to 17, 1971. The help of Mukti Bahini — Bangladeshi freedom fighters — was key to the Indian success. It was a tribute to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s leadership and a moment of triumph for General Sam Manekshaw, the army chief, for masterly planning and execution of the war. The Indian armed forces lost over 3,000 lives in the battlefield; over 9,000 Pakistani soldiers were killed and 97,000 taken prisoner. India had sent a strong message in power assertion in South Asia and the nation applauded the achievement.

When thousands of Tamils fled Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the July 1983 pogrom in Colombo against the Tamil minority, at first India tried to engage the Sri Lankan leadership to defuse the crisis. After the signing of the Accord, Tamils built up high expectations based on the Indian intervention in Bangladesh, without realising that the circumstances were different.

Sent to Sri Lanka to help implement the Accord, the Indian Army unexpectedly got entangled in war with the LTTE insurgents who refused to lay down arms and join the political mainstream. The three-year war cost the lives of 1,255 Indian soldiers; thousands of Sri Lankans were killed or wounded. The Indian intervention ended abruptly when Sri Lanka’s democratic process showed the door to the architects of the Accord in both countries.

Both the military interventions hold lessons for India and its armed forces. Firstly, such interventions need dynamic leadership. Undoubtedly, it was Indira Gandhi’s leadership that provided the momentum for success in 1971. She had a nationwide following, beyond the inherited afterglow of Jawaharlal Nehru. Her strong-willed leadership bordered on autocracy, and she focussed on ends rather than the means to achieve them.

She was also a pragmatist; she deferred military intervention in East Pakistan after General (later Field Marshal) Manekshaw sought time to prepare the army for war. Before she went in for the “kill” in East Pakistan, she built strong international constituencies of support. She had a Plan B — the Indo-Soviet Friendship Treaty — to discount the possibility of American or Chinese military intervention in support of Pakistan. A blundering Pakistani military dictatorship played into her hands and President Nixon blinked when Indian troops moved in and the rest is history.

By the time Rajiv Gandhi inherited the leadership from his mother, Indira Gandhi’s ill-conceived national Emergency had considerably dimmed her halo. He was politically naïve. As he gathered more experience, he had an impatient leadership style, and paid little heed to advice from the seasoned Congress leader and ministerial colleague, P.V. Narasimha Rao, not to go sign the Accord.

When I landed in Jaffna in August 1987, Sri Lankans who knew Jayawardene warned that he would make Indian forces fight the LTTE. I did not believe them then; but in hindsight that seems to have been the plan. Rajiv Gandhi also made unwritten promises that India could not sustain later. When Premadasa gave an ultimatum to Indian troops to quit Sri Lanka, Rajiv had no Plan B.

The second aspect relates to the army. The absence of a national goal in the intervention in Sri Lanka led to warped military thinking. Success in an overseas operation requires the army to be closely involved in the structured strategic decision-making process. The absence of this approach made military sacrifices in Sri Lanka meaningless. The army had not factored in the LTTE reneging on its promise and taking up arms. As a result, forces had to be rushed to Sri Lanka to fight in unknown territory barely a few hours after landing.

The army responded in a knee-jerk fashion to the political leadership’s instant demands without visualising what tasks that involved. When it had to undertake the operation against the LTTE, it lacked intelligence resources, military or civil. In any case, Military Intelligence was not in the loop even as the army was preparing for its role. It was as late as July 23, 1987, when the Deputy Director General of MI informally briefed me, the most senior Tamil speaking officer in the MI, on “possible involvement of army” in Sri Lanka and asked me to meet the Southern Army Commander for further briefing.

When I met the army commander in Chennai on the day our troops landed in Sri Lanka, he expected our role to last no more than a few days or weeks. Civil intelligence agencies played truant; they were reluctant to share information with us for their own reasons. It took nearly two years and the loss of a thousand Indian troops for the civil intelligence flow to improve. By then, it had no worthwhile field intelligence. In Bangladesh, on the other hand, civil and military intelligence had clearly coordinated their operations well in advance.

Strong message

Despite these imponderables, the Accord sent home a strong message to all stakeholders: India would not ignore strategic developments in its close proximity in Sri Lanka, and would support the minority demand for an equitable deal. The most significant achievement of the Accord was the introduction of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution which provided a degree of autonomy to the newly created provinces. And it still exists as the only constitutional tool available to redress Tamil grievances.

Twenty five years after the Accord, and three years after the Sri Lanka army wiped out the LTTE along with its leader V. Prabakaran in May 2009, two questions come to mind in the changed strategic environment:

Did the Accord serve India’s strategic goals? Can India successfully undertake an overseas military intervention to serve its strategic interests based on lessons from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka?

The Accord failed to achieve its strategic goals in full. The devolution of powers to the Tamil minority promised in the Accord remains unfulfilled despite the 13th Amendment. But the Accord retains the potential as an instrument of Indian influence in the region. As far as the second question is concerned, yes we have a national strategic decision-making structure, though the armed forces are only on listening watch; and intelligence coordination has presumably improved. What India does not have is a dynamic national leadership.

(Col. R. Hariharan, a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence.

Dr. Swamy on pilgrimage to Kadhirgaamam, lauds the govt. on destroying LTTE the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization.

                     By K.T.Rajasingham
New Delhi, 11 February, (Asian

Dr. Subramanian Swamy

In an exclusive interview with Asian Tribune, Dr. Subramanian Swamy said that Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is anti-Indian outfit and hence President Rajapakshe deserves our highest honor of ‘Bharat Ratna’ for exterminating them.

Bharat Ratna is India’s highest civilian award, awarded for the highest degrees of national service. Out of the 41 awards so far conferred, two non-Indians, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (1987) and Nelson Mandela (1990) were given such award.

Dr. Swamy was in Sri Lanka on a private visit on 7 & 8 of February. According to Dr. Swamy he was in Sri Lanka to participate in the Thai Poosam religious celebrations and rituals at the Lord Muruga Temple in Kataragama located in the South of Sri Lanka.

When he was in Sri Lanka he met some of the political party leaders representing the Up Country Tamils of the Indian Origin in the Central hill country region.

When Asian Tribune asked Dr. Swamy whether Sri Lanka should look for third party mediation in the devolution process as proposed by the TNA?

Dr. Swamy, a pragmatist was very brief and to point with his response, “TNA is a pro-LTTE outfit. By pass them. Then Tamils will also be with you.”

Given below the excerpts of the Interview Asian Tribune had with Dr. Swamy:

Asian Tribune:What was the purpose of your visit to Sri Lanka? I read it as a private visit, but you have held meetings with Tamil politicians.

Dr. Swamy: It was a religious pilgrimage but I had time on my hands, so I met a few leaders of the southern malai Indian vamsa leaders.

Asian Tribune:How many days were you in Sri Lanka and what did you do apart from visiting Kataragama?

Dr. Swamy: Two full days. Good part was spent driving to and fro the temple.

Asian Tribune:You have said you are anti-LTTE but in favor of a political solution. Why do you make this proclamation when many of the south Indian politicians take a pro-LTTE stance ?

Dr. Swamy: That is what I told them. LTTE is anti-Indian and hence President Rajapakshe deserves our highest honour of Bharat Ratna for exterminating them.

Asian Tribune: The Government has set in motion a process to formulate a framework for devolving power to peripheries. But there seem to be a tug of war between different stake holders; the TNA, UNP and some of the coalition partners of the Government. Conflict of interests and petty politics have hampered every attempt in the past to find a lasting solution to the problems of the North East people. Your comments?

Dr. Swamy: Yes that is the history. But two things are clear to me. First that Tamils have a right to devolution of power within the framework of united Sri Lanka. Second, the majority community has broken past agreements such as with Chelvanayagam. Now as a hero of Sri Lanka and President, Mr. Rajapakshe must be assertive and within this year end should push through 13+ Amendment or something similar or fail in Parliament trying to do that. This is the view of Sri Lanka’s well wishers in India, US, Israel, and China. This is our friendly view– and not a diktat– since Sri Lanka is a proud sovereign nation.

Asian Tribune: Do you think a federal system is an ideal structure for devolving power in Sri Lanka?

Dr. Swamy: No. But it can have a unitary Constitution with subsidiary federal principles. The central government must have overriding powers to dismiss provincial bodies as also a central police that overrides provincial police in national security matters.

Asian Tribune:Should Sri Lanka follow the Indian model? There are some of the local political parties who voice this proposition.

Dr. Swamy: No. Sri Lanka has to take into account the recent history and the treachery of the LTTE. I am also disappointed that Tamils voted en bloc against Mr. Rajapakshe in the Presidential elections, thereby missed a chance to celebrate a great victory against terrorism. Tamils should regard themselves as Sri Lankans first and Tamils second. We have in India smashed this sectarian mentality of Tamils to regard themselves as Tamils first when as Union Law Minister in 1991, I got dismissed the DMK state government. Tamils of Tamil Nadu then overwhelmingly supported the Centre.

Asian Tribune: Do you think Sri Lanka should look for third party mediation in the devolution process? This is proposed by the TNA.

Dr. Swamy: TNA is a pro-LTTE outfit. By pass them. Then Tamils will also be with you.

Asian Tribune: The Asian tribune reported that you said India is indebted to Sri Lanka for eliminating LTTE. But the Government has been battling international wrath over Sri Lanka’s ‘war on terror’ ?

Dr. Swamy: Nothing to battle. Financial orphans of the LTTE can make some noise but it is of no consequence anywhere in the world except in London’s Trafalgar Sq.

Asian Tribune: Do you think India should help cushion international pressure on Sri Lanka. How do you describe current relations between the two countries in this context?

Dr. Swamy: The problem in India has been the covert support to the LTTE by Ms. Sonia Gandhi and her Italian family. But if your President is assertive on a reasonable devolution package with short time line, then even Sonia can do little.

Asian Tribune: Is LTTE still active in South India. ?

Dr. Swamy: If any LTTE is left in India it is clandestine, covert, burrowed underground and under aliases. Instead of puli [tiger] they have become eli [rat].

Asian Tribune: You are an Economist of Harvard breed. Do you think Sri Lanka is on the right track economically?

Dr. Swamy: You have had a head start in Quality of Life Index and Human Development Index. So anytime you can revive your economy. India will stand by you in the long run.

Asian Tribune: Please feel free to add anything else you want to say.

Dr. Swamy: Please don’t call your conflict as ethnic anymore. Sinhalas and Tamils are by genetic DNA studies of the same blood and race. We have some linguistic difference but even in this we are united in the common Sanskrit vocabulary. Bhagwan Buddha is revered by Hindus. Buddha is our God too. We both thus are professing the same religious theology. Let stay together against our common enemies.

– Asian Tribune –