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The twilight of Tigers in Lanka and their rebirth across the sea

Kilinochchi has fallen, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have began to withdraw from entrenched positions in Elephant pass etc., to vacate towards Mullaitheevu and the jungles which are about  one thousandth of ‘Eelam’. The palatial underground bunker of Prabhakaran is believed to be in Mullaitivu. However, it is now a total certainty that the Sri Lankan army will capture Mullaitivu as well, and hence the bunker would be of no avail. Since Prabhakaran is a man who cannot give up, it is totally unlikely that he would remain in Mullaitivu, waiting with the "kuppi" in hand. While the lower-rank LTTE and the civilian hostages head towards Mullaitivu, Prabhakaran would have already headed north, and across the sea to safer heavens where the flag of the Cholas can be unfurled in a safer, clandestine location. Various political groups in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, as well as in the "international Community", would find in Prabhakaran a valuable figurehead that they would want to use for their own ends. Prabhakaran, too, would see that his objectives would run parallel to the objectives of these Tamil-Nadu hosts. If Prabhakaran died, they would need to re-invent him.

If we hark back to the historical chronicles, (or to the early history of the LTTE), we will see that time and again Vanniyar chieftains ran to the Cholaland for protection and support, while other Vanniyar chieftains looked for support from the King of Kandy. The so-called "Jaffna Kingdom" existed only as a manifestation of the strength or weakness of the Sri Lankan power as pitted against the Chola power. Sinhalese chiefs have also run to India when they needed support or sustenance.

It should be remembered that Tamil Nadu is a theater of operations that is quite familiar to Prabhakaran and his associates. The Tamil diaspora also has excellent connections in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, both at the political level and at the commercial-cultural level. While Victor Karunairajan writes the usual hate-mongering article reminding us of old wounds, racial discrimination etc., he at least rejects the interference of Tamil Nadu politicians in Sri Lankan affairs, noting that "Tamilnadu politicians have largely used the Sri Lankan problems to promote their own political goals on the subcontinent" (03 January, The Sri Lanka Guardian). But Prabhakaran and his backers who are pushed to the wall would be willing to accept some back-scratching to get back on the roll again.  

LTTE sympathizers like Chandi Sinnathurai come out with the real truth of Tamil militancy. It has nothing to do with racial discrimination which could have been settled easily if attempts were made to build bridges between the two communities. The Vadukkoddei resolution of 1976, as well as the 1949 proclamation of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchchi (ITAK) clearly asserted that the Tamil struggle is for "driving out the Sinhalese from the Traditional Homelands of the Tamils". Chelvanayagam asserted that the Tamils can use the example of the Indian struggle for driving out the British from India as the role model for a programme of civil disobedience in Sri Lanka. It was this programme of civil disobedience, and the call for a separate Tamil homeland, while also talking of Federalism (in English), that destroyed goodwill, trust and all possibilities of a constitutional settlement between the two communities.

Bandaranaike and the Senanayakes were not racists. In marked contrast, Chelvanayagam was a racist who successfully polarized the Tamils, and egged on the Sinhala nationalists to react to his civil disobedience campaigns with violence. This approach of creating violence and reaping the ill-gotten benefits of the backlash was the modus operandi which came to a climax in the black July of 1983. Prabhakaran, who took the torch of violence from the militant youth groups launched by Amithalaingam and Chelvanayagam in the 1970s, tried to create more and more violent "Black-July" hits by attacking emotionally sensitive targets like the Temple of the Tooth, but to no avail. Prabhakaran did manage to drive out the Sinhalese and the Muslims from the "Traditional Tamil Homeland", as envisaged in the dreams of "Thanthi Chelva".  

Meanwhile, the Tamil diaspora has completely forgotten the meaning of morality. Its commitment to "driving the Sinhalese from the Tamil Homeland" was the cherished end, and any means to this end were justified. Recruitment of children for the war, the creation of Black-Tiger suicide cadres, attack on civilian targets, suppression of dissent within the Tamil community, assassination of individuals who uttered "inconvenient truths", spread of false propaganda, etc., etc., were also accepted by the diaspora which was led by the highly privileged rich Tamils who had aspirations totally different to those of poor rural Tamils. The Tamil clergy also pawned their moral sense in return for heady political frenzy a la the LTTE.  One One of them called for the use of Kilinochchi wine in church rituals, feigning to be totally innocent of possible political and moral implications of such a call.  The suicide explosion in Colombo, hours after the declaration of the fall of Kilinochchi, and similar previous atrocities by the LTTE are routinely ignored by the Victor Karunairajan, Sinnathurai and other who rush to fault the government which has, in a mere two years, wiped out a terrorist organization which has destroyed the poor Tamils while claiming to liberate them. These morally demented individuals have called for sharing power with Prabhakaran, and holding "meaningful dialogue" with this odious man whose hands are stained with the blood of innocent Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims.

It is once again this immoral diaspora which will buttress the Tigers in their twilight hour. Chandi Sinnathurai, writes in the January 03 issue of the Sri Lanka Guardian that the "struggle for self-determination of the Tamils will need to continue". Unlike Karunairajan, Sinnathurai is a true Chelvanayagam ideologue who recognizes that the issue is NOT racial discrimination, but the creation of a "Tamil Eelam". In effect, even if there had been no discrimination whatever in an ideal Sri Lanka or Ceylon, that would not have been sufficient as the sine qua non of "regaining the traditional homelands" needed to be met. That is, civil commotion to achieve that end is justified!

The concept of the "Traditional Homeland", annunciated in 1949, has changed in scope since then. A new element in the equation is a wealthy, politically polarized diaspora sans morality. Now that its attempt to create Eelam in Sri Lanka has failed, it can clearly understand that the programme was doomed to failure within the confines of an island dominated by a majority which had always has a historic sense of its own identity, with its ethnic legends and ancient chronicles to give the needed patriotic cohesion. Ultimately, when it came to an extra-parliamentary struggle, the majority backed by the "Mahavamsa mindset"  could deploy a crushingly large force against the minority, even if this minority has been mobilised with the help of "Tamil-nation mindset".

However, what if the "Tamil-nation mindset" were transferred to Tamil Nadu? India is struggling on all fronts, virtually in every state, trying to check guerrilla movements and independence struggles. Its armies have always failed against terrorists. The types of entrenched discrimination that exist in Indian society are more atrocious and shocking than anything that existed in Sri Lanka during the offing of the ITAK struggles. India has outlawed even the discussion of self-determination by any ethnic group. But, the LTTE, already a banned organization, is bothered by such legal niceties. As long as the Eelam idea seemed easiest to achieve in Sri Lanka, it was the correct place to attempt to launch the Tamil Arasu programme. Now the Eelamists will move the LTTE to Tamil Nadu, and use it to grow in strength and if possible return to Sri Lanka, at a later date. The Eelam idea is too big and too potent to be confined to the shores of Sri Lanka.

The episodes of the Mahavamsa would replay itself, of course in a different, modernized form, but with the same old underlying themes, with new actors who are but avatars of the old. If these new actors accept that the arena of battle should be within the democratic path, then perhaps the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims etc., can all co-exist. Indeed, the majority of the non-diaspora Tamils have accepted co-existence and rejected separatism. It is in the interest of minorities to insist upon the parliamentary path. Outside it, the extra-parliamentary struggle is dominated by the principle of pure might. The Chandi Sinnathuaris, Ponnambalams, the TNA politicians and other supporters of LTTE terror tactics can look forward to agitating in Tamil Nadu, Malaysia, South Africa and other potential theaters of Eelam.

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