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Largest democracy as handmaid of terrorism

When a bunch of insane terrorists went on a killing spree and took a large number of civilians hostage in Mumbai, the world stood shocked. The Indian government struck back with might and main– quite rightly so. India has every right to deal with brutal terrorism in any manner it deems fit.

But, surprisingly, India has let itself be held to ransom by another terrorist outfit without a whimper of protest. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who vowed to defeat terrorism at any cost in the aftermath of the Mumbai terror, has become a prisoner of the LTTE confederates in Tamil Nadu.

Time was when India used the LTTE to further its geopolitical interests. But, today, the LTTE, in spite of having assassinated an Indian leader and killed the largest number of Indian troops in combat operations since Independence–nearly 1,400 IPKF soldiers and officers–is goading India, the world's largest democracy with nuclear capability, into promoting separatist terrorism. It looks as if India had an LTTE-led government at the centre, if how the beleaguered Prabhakaran sways it through his proxies is anything to go by.

It is being argued in some quarters that Karunanidhi's anti-Sri Lanka campaign is a ruse to distract public attention from his political bankruptcy, internal problems of the DMK and, above all, the burning problems of the people of Tamil Nadu. It may be that the pro-LTTE protests are very much hyped and the wannabe celluloid heroes and the harum-scarum politicians organising them are singing for their supper. But, the fact remains that they are ardent supporters of Prabhakaran's greater Eelam project whose boundaries extend well beyond Sri Lanka's shores, as evident from the support the LTTE receives from Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, Singapore etc.

Should the Singh government seek short term political benefits by pleasing the LTTE backers in Tamil Nadu at the expense of Sri Lanka's highly successful war against terrorism, it would be jeopardising India's long term national security interests besides those of Sri Lanka.

India is floating a story that its Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee will visit Sri Lanka to arrange for a ceasefire. India's official position is yet to be known on this matter but rumours of a truce will have a devastating impact on the morale of the frontline.

If Mukherjee rushes here with 'a strong message' as Karunanidhi has told the media, Colombo will have no alternative but to reject it lock, stock and barrel without confusing the military. An army on the offensive in a hostile terrain cannot afford to relent or hold fire for political reasons. Attack is its best form of defence. That was why former LTTE military commander V. Muralitharan (Karuna) MP said at a meeting President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with media heads a few weeks ago that an attempt to stop the troops at this juncture would be tantamount to endangering their lives. Battle-hardened Karuna, knows the LTTE better than anyone else. Does India want the Sri Lankan troops to perish at the hands of the killers of Rajiv and 1,400 jawans so that the Singh government will gain politically?

A negotiated settlement is not possible with the LTTE, which has rejected devolution at the provincial level (Provincial Councils or the Indian remedy), devolution at the regional level (Regional Councils) and devolution at the national level (federalism as envisaged in the Oslo Declaration)? There will be no political solution so long as the LTTE remains strong.

If the Indian government is genuinely desirous of helping the civilians trapped in the Vanni, it must ask Karunanidhi et al to secure their release from the LTTE, which is holding them in the conflict zone against their will as a human shield.

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