Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Direct Military Intervention of India in Tamil Eelam

On July 24, 1987, some Indian officials met Pirabaharan in Jaffna and informed him that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wants to meet him and talk to him on a very important subject. So saying they tried to fly him to Delhi post-haste.

On the backdrop of this political turnaround, Pirabaharan addressed a message to the people of Tamil Eelam which read as follows:

“I can assure you that today the Tamils have chosen a leadership which can win for them their goal of Tamil Eelam. I am fully confident that I can carry out this tremendous responsibility vested on my shoulders by you truthfully, sincerely and courageously. I do not believe any ad hoc solution will solve our problem. I am working hard to arrive at a solution which will guarantee permanent peace, bright and prosperous future for all Tamils. I believe that solution is an independent Tamil Eelam. Today, on an official invitation extended by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, I am leaving Tamil Eelam for India.”

Thereafter, he left for Delhi in an Indian army helicopter sent by the Government of India. On the way Pirabaharan stopped at Madras and had talks with the Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. Nobody knew why he was invited to Delhi in such a mighty hurry. When he and his advisors arrived in Delhi they were lodged at the Asoka Hotel.

In Delhi, the Indian high Commissioner for Sri Lanka J.N. Dixit , Foreign Ministry Secretary K.P.S. Menon and other officials met Pirabaharan. They told him for the first time about the proposed ‘Indo- Ceylon Agreement.’ The officials showed him a copy of the draft agreement, but took it back immediately. Pirabaharan firmly refused to accept the draft agreement. Several attempts were made to coax Pirabaharan into falling in line, but he stood his ground.

Then they told him Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wanted to see him and talk to him. But even after the lapse of four days, there was no rendezvous with the Prime Minister.

J.N. Dixit, former High Commissioner and a key advisor to Rajiv Gandhi during these political developments has given a clear insight into the Indian mind-set and the policy options discussed in the corridors of power in Delhi. In his book Assignment Colombo ( Konarak Publishers, 1998), he reminisces candidly:

“My advice to him (Rajiv Gandhi) after the failure of our initiatives at the Bangalore SAARC summit was that India's purely mediatory efforts were not likely to succeed. I was of the view that India had to shift its role from that of a mediator to a peace-maker and the guarantor of such peace if the crisis in Sri Lanka was to be resolved. It was also my considered opinion that the LTTE's insistence on the creation of a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, based on ethnic, linguistic and religious considerations, would have far-reaching negative implications for India's unity and territorial integrity too. The LTTE's clandestinely publicised objective of a Greater Eelam would have its impact notably on India but the rest of South-East Asian countries with Tamil populations.

I was convinced that the LTTE's objective of creating a separate political entity, purely on the basis of language, ethnicity and religion, would be a challenge to the plural multi-dimensional democratic identity of India as well as other similarly placed countries in the region. Having seen the LTTE in operations, both in the political and military fields, I also felt that, despite the legitimacy of the Tamil aspirations articulated by it, the LTTE was essentially an authoritarian organisation that relied on violence to settle all differences of opinion.

An example of the mindset of LTTE leadership is provided by a report about a journalist asking Pirabaharan some time during 1986 as to who were his role models in politics and military operations. First came Subhas Chandra Bose in all the power and majesty of his position as the supreme commander of the Indian National Army.

The other name Pirabaharan mentioned was the American actor Clint Eastwood in his personification as the hero who avenged injustice with ruthless violence. I cannot vouch for the total authenticity of this story for the simple reason that this was not said to me. But I am inclined to believe in the veracity of such a response by Pirabaharan, given his intense commitment to the Tamil cause and his personality as a militant leader. My suggestions to Rajiv Gandhi were based on these assessments.”

When they found Pirabaharan will not accept the agreement, the Indian government immediately brought representatives of the other servile Tamil Groups who were in Tamil Nadu to Delhi. As to be expected, these groups without as much as batting an eye lid, readily gave their consent to the agreement. Then Rajiv Gandhi announced that everyone, barring the LTTE leader Pirabaharan, have accepted the agreement. Further he announced that he was flying to Colombo to sign the agreement on July 29, 1987.

Only after these developments Rajiv Gandhi met Pirabaharan. Pirabaharan pointed out to him the many short- comings in the agreement. Yet the Indian officials told the mass media that Pirabaharan has given his consent to the agreement. However, Pirabaharan issued a press statement denying government’s claim. In the mean time ‘black cats’ commandos were posted to guard the Asoka Hotel where Pirabaharan was lodged. It tantamount to a virtual house arrest and keeping the LTTE leader incommunicado.

Indo - Sri Lankan Pact
Indo - Sri Lanka agreement was signed in Colombo by Rajiv Gandhi and J.R. Jayawardene on July 29, 1987 without obtaining the consent of the LTTE leader and the Tamil people. Displaying sheer arrogance as Prime Minister of a regional superpower and stupidity as a politician, Rajiv Gandhi signed the agreement with President J.R. Jayawardene, mainly to safeguard the geo-political interests of India. This he did after locking up Pirabaharan, who was leading the liberation struggle of the Tamils with the sole aim of establishing an independent Tamil Eelam, in a Delhi hotel. Rajiv Gandhi who returned to India after signing the agreement met Pirabaharan and gave some assurances to him. After receiving those assurances Pirabaharan returned to Tamil Eelam.

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