THE truth is out. The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly wants to see that Sri Lanka is partitioned and a separate Tamil Eelam state is formed at the earliest. To that end, it has passed a resolution asking for a referendum even while seeking marginalisation of the Mahindra Rajapaksha government, and a more impertinent and divisive demand could not possibly have been made. It was precisely because the LTTE was out to divide Sri Lanka violently by pursuing a civil war that pushed the Rajpaksha government to indulge in brutal and mindless violence against the country’s Tamils.
One is reminded of the Civil War in the United States (1861-65), where more than 3,000 Union soldiers and 4,000 Confederates were killed. The wounded and missing totalled more than 20,000 on each side. It was this that made Abraham Lincoln say in his famous Gettysburg speech that “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…”.
The Civil War in Sri Lanka has similarly caused thousands of deaths and one can only hope that as in the United States, so in Sri Lanka, a new purposeful unity will come into force. No patriotic Indian will ever agree to the partition of Sri Lanka. At the same time, one must remember two things: The Rajpaksha government must do its utmost to heal the emotional and physical wounds suffered by the Sri Lanka Tamils so that a democratic government “of the people, for the people, by the people” in its truest sense is established in Sri Lanka. For this to happen, the Sri Lankan Tamils themselves must stop sulking and learn to adjust themselves to a new and challenging situation. The best that the Tamil diaspora can do is to stay out. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has done neither itself nor the Sri Lankan Tamils any good by demanding that the Sri Lankan administration be treated with added hostility.
Meanwhile, word must be passed on to Jayalalithaa that her stand on the issue of Sri Lankan cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches is not acceptable, if they are held in Chennai. In the first place, that is chauvinism at its worst. In the second place, it is not in Jayalalithaa’s jurisdiction to lay down who can play and where. She is crossing the dividing line and must be firmly told about the limits to her powers. Delhi’s succumbing to her blackmail may have disastrous consequences, and maybe the beginning of the collapse of India. Today the Tamil Nadu government wants the setting up of a Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka. Tomorrow it may demand secession from the Indian Union. Besides, it is not for the DMK to demand that India must boycott the Commonwealth meeting in Colombo. It must be put in its place. As a matter of fact, India must do everything possible, as a major power, to persuade Sri Lanka to be more accommodative towards its Tamil population and to think afresh. Turning hostile towards the Rajpaksha government is not the best way to achieve a desirable end.
But what is more to the point is the way China is attempting to woo Sri Lanka to get a footage in the strategic Island. Thus it has become Sri Lanka’s major aid donor, with an annual aid packet of $ 1 billion, displacing Japan in the field. China has also become Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner, supplying more than half of all construction and development loans Sri Lanka has been receiving. This should have been the privilege of India, not of China. Importantly, China is providing interest free loans and preferential loans at subsidised rates to Colombo. It is constructing power plants, modernising Sri Lankan railways and financing more than 85 per cent of the Hambantota Development Zone, to be completed by 2025. Included in the zone will be an international airport, an oil refinery, an international container port and a bunkering system. What all this means is that China is capitalising on Sri Lanka’s angst against India to build a strong and viable presence in the Island and gain operational advantages. Is this what, in the end the DMK and Jayalalithaa have in mind?
As things are working out, China will turn out to be practically India’s next door menace — and a powerful menace at that. What is even worse, China will have a permanent presence on the Indian Ocean periphery, enough to give India the jitters.
The Jayalalithaas of Tamil Nadu do not seem to understand that. Nor do the Karunanidhis. All that they seem anxious to achieve is to sell their motherland down the river.
China has a major presence in Pakistan. The DMK and its allies, with their behaviour, seem ready and willing to give China a presence in Sri Lanka as well, to India’s disadvantage. China seems to be succeeding extremely well in its policy of encircling India. Delhi looks helpless, succumbing as it is to Tamil blackmail. Neither the DMK nor the AIADMK, nor, for that matter the UPA, seem able to look beyond their noses, at the damage they are inflicting on India’s role in the Indian Ocean as the leading power. The present extremist anti-Sri Lankan campaign must be stopped without further ado. To talk of genocide against Tamilians in Sri Lanka is pure nonsense.
In 2011, within Colombo city itself, there were as many as 7,53,000 (almost 29 per cent) Sri Lankan Tamils. Are they being killed? President Rajapaksha had appointed an All Party Representative Committee (APRC), which had supported a Sinhala consensus for power sharing. Media reports suggest that all constituent parties of the ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) have agreed to the APRC report. That needs to be implemented and efforts must be made to get the report passed in the Sri Lanka Parliament.
Importantly, India must take a lesson from Asoka the Great, who had sent a team of Buddhist monks to spread peace in Sri Lanka. A similar all-party Indian team should be sent by the UPA government to Sri Lanka, to help smoothen relations between the Sinhalese and the Tamils and establish reconciliation between them for the greater good of both . That should be India’s sacred duty. The concept of Eelam should be given a decent burial for all times. It is a medieval concept that should have no place in contemporary Sri Lanka. And this message should be sent to both Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa in no uncertain language. Sri Lanka is not for burning.