Policing the Neighbourhood is Not Our Business

N. Kunju

One is surprised at Shekhar Gupta's question: ``Would we, as a dominant power, allow the Nepalis seize power at the point of Kalashnikov in Bhutan even though they now vastly outnumber the native Bhutia-Lepchas'' (United Colours of Memory, May 13).

Democracy means the rule of the majority and the Nepalese being the majority should get at least their share of power through the process of elections. When the democratic process is not allowed to function, people take to Kalashnikovs. Are we as a regional power supposed to police our neighbours and suppress the righteous freedom movements in those countries?

India is a regional power not only in the sense that we are the largest country in the region but also because we derive our power from the cohesiveness of our own region. As such, we cannot disregard the sentiments of Tamil Nadu, a major region of India. What is more, today the ruling National Democratic Alliance cannot rule without the support of the Tamil Nadu representatives in Parliament. And if the regions really wanted to separate, even a superpower cannot stop it, forget a regional power.

It is unwise to think that India means Hindistan and the rest of the people have to be bound to the Centre by force or intimidation. It is more unwise to think that once Tamil Eelam is created, Tamil Nadu will demand separating from India. Such thinking is the outcome of the mindset that sees the Centre, by wielding the big stick, holding India together. Just because Bangladesh was formed, West Bengal did not clamour to be part of it. Also, to describe the formation of Tamil Ealam as the ``vivisection'' of Sri Lanka is wrong. Sri Lanka in only going to be divided into two sovereign states Tamil Eelam and Sinhala land.

It is certain that the Tamils are not going to get justice and due democratic rights from the Sinhala majority. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) was sent to Sri Lanka after Colombo agreed to the devolution of power to the Tamils, but once the LTTE was weakened at the cost of the lives of a 1,500 Indian jawans, the promise of devolution was forgotten. What is more, the wily Sri Lankan authorities began encouraging the LTTE to fight the IPKF. Such was the perfidy of Colombo that Indian troops had to withdraw ingloriously. One cannot blame Karunanidhi for not welcoming them at Madras after their role of suppressing Tamil aspirations in Sri Lanka. Though the jawans are not responsible for the success or failure of the government's strategies, they unfortunately become the symbols of the outcome. But for the IPKF interference, Tamil Eelam would have been a reality a decade ago.

No doubt the killing of Rajiv the killing of Rajiv Gandhji created a lot of resentment against the LTTE in Tamil Nadu. But this sentiment was temporary; LTTE had every reason to feel angry with Rajiv Gandhi, who was responsible for sending the Indian troops to liquidate the Tamil Tigers. The price he had to pay for the blunder was too high but revolutionary movements are notorious for meting out summary punishments.

The LTTE is not a terrorist organisation and unlike the militants in J&K are not inspired by foreign interests. No outsider has an interest in the creation of Tamil Eelam. The Tigers are devoted to their cause. We may kill one generation of Tigers as we almost did in the eighties, but the fighting would continue when the next generation comes of age. As for the LTTE being intolerant to other Tamil groups in Sri Lanka, no revolutionary movement can afford to have rivals and dissenters. A revolution devours its own children.

Lastly, Prabhakaran has been demonised as a modern day Ravana in the north Indian psyche. He is a Tamil of Tamil Nadu parents. He is the hero of Sri Lankan Tamils, at whose behest thousands of young Tamils, girls and boys, have gone on suicidal missions. Such devotion calls for an extraordinary and exceptional leadership.

Things will change with the establishment of Eelam. Its closeness to Tamil Nadu will be a factor that will make it closer to India.

Courtesy: Indian Express
20 May 2000