To be or not to be, that's his question

When evil spirits are exorcised, as it is popularly believed, they give vent to their wrath by leaving a trail of destruction. Local yakas or devils are notorious for breaking branches of nearby trees as a mark of protest upon being banished. The same is true of terrorists facing ignominious defeat. Anything is possible when they go down. Yesterday's Sea Tiger attack on the Navy off the Mullaitivu coast is a case in point.

As for an escape route, the beleaguered Tigers know they have the same chance as a cat in hell. But, they will go on fighting as they cannot bring themselves to concede defeat having fought for nearly three decades. After all, they are 'the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world''! They have to live up to their 'reputation' until death.

The curtain will fall on the LTTE after the army overruns Mullaitivu and makes forays into the remaining pockets of resistance. If Prabhakaran is still in the Vanni, he will have to either end his life or make an attempt to escape. If he opts for the latter and succeeds by any chance, it will be like a god descending from his pedestal and bolting out of the shrine when his faithful kapurala comes under attack.

If Prabhakaran flees the country or has already done so, he will be as good as dead because he will be remembered not for his fighting but for his last minute running. In other words, he will go down in history as a runner and not a fighter. Worse, in case of fleeing and surviving the on-going onslaught, he will be held answerable for the billions of dollars that went down the gurgler and the tens of thousands lives lost owing to his mismanagement of the so-called Eelam war. How will he be able to justify his decision to plunge the country back into war in 2006 at a time the Rajapaksa government was bending over backwards to appease him? Will the Diaspora that funded his war take kindly to the fact that the collapse of their Eelam project in Sri Lanka is the price they have to pay for Prabhakaran's decision to capture a tiny irrigation project at Mavil Aru in 2006? And most of all, he will have to explain why he did not accept President Kumaratunga's offer of the entire Northern Province for ten years without elections in 1994.

Prabhakaran may have managed to deify himself and suppress dissent and criticism in his heyday but when he gets exposed as a failed leader with a massive ego which his ability cannot match, even the rank and file of the LTTE will dare confront him. Failed leaders, they say, are like bananas without the skin; they are pecked by every crow. He will be in a worse plight than even Sakvithi, the fraudster, on the run having cheated people of their money and bankrupted his finance company.

It is never easy to get inside an elusive mind. And no predictions are possible as to what Prabhakaran will do in the end. Whether he is still in this country or not will be known only after the fall of Vishvamadu, according to the army commander. Wherever he may be, the next few weeks are likely to see an unprecedented escalation of terror strikes with the LTTE fighting the last ditch battle. He might even seriously consider kamikaze type attacks by using its light aircraft which will be either captured or destroyed anyway.

Meanwhile, the pro-LTTE demonstrations in Tamil Nadu and the attendant incidents of violence are of crucial import. Their concern for the Vanni civilians trapped in the war zone is only a fa├žade. If they are so concerned about the safety of civilians, what they should do is to pressure Prabhakaran to let go of those innocent people and fight like a man without hiding behind women and children.

It is a supreme irony that India, which created Sri Lanka's terrorism, has had to issue shoot-on-sight orders in dealing with the pro-LTTE rabble wreaking havoc in Tamil Nadu. However, India is doing so not out of any love for Sri Lanka but for her own sake. Popular support for separatism is a worrisome proposition for India already battling secessionist terrorism on several fronts.

The LTTE shifted its arms smuggling operations to Tamil Nadu after losing its rogue ships at the hands of the Navy a few years ago. Laxity of the Tamil Nadu police as well sections of the Indian armed forces helped the LTTE replenish its supplies with the help of their sympathisers masquerading as Indian fishermen. India's failure to nip those clandestine operations in the bud provided the LTTE an opportunity to muster enough political backing for its cause in Tamil Nadu. Remember Prabhakaran's lament in his heroes' day speech in 2007 that 80 million Tamils were without a state of their own was meant for the consumption of the Tamil Nadu people he was wooing. The message he sent across was that he was fighting for all the stateless Tamils and therefore deserved their support for his Eelam project.

Whether LTTE terror, when defeated and denied a base in this country, will go back to roost across the Palk Straits remains to be seen.

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