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India's moment of shame

"The escalating civilian death toll is truly distressing, but the ultimate responsibility for such casualties must be laid at the door of the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and those who support and empower them"

Thus spake the Indian Ambassador to UN Nirupam Sen at the Security Council the other day intervening in the debate on the situation in Afghanistan. He also proposed, as we reported yesterday a three-pronged strategy to democratise Afghanistan: Robust fight against terrorists, sustained international assistance for development and regional cooperation. One couldn't agree with India more on the proposed strategy to remove the scourge of terrorism afflicting Afghanistan.

Interestingly, India has spelt out this strategy to deal with terrorism while it is coming under increasing pressure from terror backers in Tamil Nadu to intervene and put the kibosh on Sri Lanka's 'robust fight' against terrorism. Their stratagem is clearer than crystal. They are all out to make India undertake something fraught with the danger of leading to its own disintegration one day, given the latent separatist tendencies in Tamil Nadu.

India may have gone nuclear but it is in a worse plight than even its small neighbour where the LTTE is concerned. The LTTE, in spite of its proscription has managed to hold India to ransom through its terror partners in Tamil Nadu. Now the Indian government has had to act according to the whims and fancies of a small terrorist outfit across the Palk Straits!

Ironically, India created the LTTE to tame the JRJ government which sided with the US in a bipolar world after 1977. But today India has become more American than even America and is paying for its sins against Sri Lanka. What Prabhakaran has achieved -remote-controlling the Central Government of India representing one billion people-is something that not even countries hostile to India can ever dream of.

Prabhakaran is a convicted criminal in this country and wanted in India for the assassination of a former Prime Minister. But, he has made a mockery of Indian law and sovereignty. What critics said of Lenin comes to mind: "Russia does as the Bolsheviks say, the Bolsheviks as the Central Committee says and the Central Committee as Lenin says." Something similar may be said of India today. India does as the Central Government says, the Central Government as the DMK says and the DMK as Prabhakaran says.

If Prabhakaran is capable of such a feat while being on the run how vulnerable India would become if he were to carve out a separate state goes without saying. It is not only Sri Lanka's national security that has suffered at the hands of Prabhakaran but also India's democracy and self-respect.

The LTTE has targeted even the Indian press. On Wednesday, a group of LTTE activists pelted stones at The Hindu editorial premises in protest against an article The Hindu had carried on the Sri Lanka situation –The danger of Tamil chauvinism by Malini Parathasarathy, reproduced in this newspaper on Wednesday. The police acted swiftly and arrested the attackers but the LTTE managed to issue a dire warning to the Indian media.

The war being fought against terrorism in the Wanni is not for the benefit of Sri Lanka alone. Its benefits are sure to accrue to India as well. Whether the democratic parties in India will join forces and make an effort to prevent a banned terrorist outfit from holding the world's largest democracy to ransom remains to be seen.

Ambassador Sen has presented to the world the Indian formula for eliminating terrorism and ushering in democracy. It is hoped that India will stick to it in dealing with the LTTE and its allies in Tamil Nadu for its own sake.

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