India Intelligence Report

 

 

   LTTE to Stay Banned, No Lanka Intervention

  The National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said that India has no plans to lift the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and for “direct intervention” in peace initiatives in Sri Lanka where hostilities has escalated rapidly to civil war proportions.
 

 

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The National Security Advisor M K Narayanan said that India has no plans to lift the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and for “direct intervention” in peace initiatives in Sri Lanka where hostilities has escalated rapidly to civil war proportions. While calling the LTTE “dangerous,” he said that he does not “think that the LTTE will pose any threat as they would like to get the support of India to some extent.” Narayanan also dismissed speculation around Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi’s comment that the ban on the LTTE was “debatable” saying that the Federal Government and the State Government had full convergence. Karunanidhi is a major supporter of the LTTE and was even suspected of playing a role in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Acknowledging that Sri Lanka view India as a major player, he said that the nation has decided not “to involve itself” because of “past experience” but promised that it was “extending all cooperation.” Not specifying what cooperation the nation was extending, Narayan said that the “Lankan government is very sensitive in going ahead with the devolution of power to the Tamils” as “they have problems in dealing with the LTTE.” He also acknowledged that “Norwegian negotiators and the monitoring mission’s representatives” consult India on ways to take the peace process forward.

Referring to his discussions with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Managala Samaraveera, Narayanan said that from India’s perspective “the importance of safety and security of the Tamils, devolution of powers, and distinction between LTTE and other Tamils” was important. It is not clear if Sri Lanka agrees with the distinction between the LTTE and the Tamils or whether it was a Lankan Government position that has been adopted by India. In either case, this is a dangerous trend as it means that the Lankan Government can now argue that it does not need to talk to the LTTE since it does not talk for the Lankan Tamils. Even a cursory conversation with any Lankan Tamil will show that they view the LTTE as their primary negotiator.

Intellectuals in Sri Lanka have long acknowledged major influence by the Sinhalese chauvinist Janata Vimukthi Peramunna (JVP) within the policy making establishment and a massive resistance to devolving power to the Tamils. However, there is a sizeable minority within the establishment to evolve peace with the Tamils. It is this conflict that renders any peace process useless and much to the chagrin of Lanka politicians, India has always counseled Lanka on evolving a “Southern Consensus” before engaging the Tamils.

Clearly, India cannot take any anti-Tamil position in favor of the Sri Lankan Government as it cannot advocate the bifurcation of the island nation. It had informally proposed Constitutional changes that would allow large autonomy much like what is available in the Indian Constitution but from Narayanan’s statements, the Lankan Government is not ready for it yet.

India needs to involve itself more as a coach to the Lankan Government and Norway to ensure that it holds the Sinhalese chauvinism in check as it does with Tamil intransigence. An overt support of one party of the other will create more internal problems for India.