If Vajpayee puts his finger in, can he pull his foot out?
In an article reproduced by this newspaper last Sunday, G. Parthasarathy, a former information advisor to Rajiv Gandhi, faults Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on a request made by the LTTE.

Parthasarathy expresses surprise that Indian Prime Minister had indicated he would consider sympathetically a request by Anton Balasingham to visit and live in Chennai.
Balasingham said that it would be easy for him to shuttle between Chennai and the Wanni for consultations with Velupillai Prabhakaran while seeking medical treatment in the capital of Tamil Nadu.

Parthasarathy diplomatically avoids castigating Balasingham for his disgraceful and demeaning act of asking Indian help after the organisation in which he is a principal figure, had assassinated the former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. But he does say this: "Balasingham has connived with and sought to justify the horrendous acts of terrorism perpetrated by the LTTE for around three decades".

If the LTTE was not involved in the killing of Rajiv Gandhi who continued his mother's policy of aiding and abetting the LTTE to destabilise the government of a neighbouring country, Balasingham- and indeed Prabhakaran- had ample opportunity of denying any hand in that dastardly act.

Several times the LTTE leadership was asked at the Kilinochchi press conference about the Rajiv Gandhi killing. Had the LTTE been innocent, Balasingham, could have categorically denied it without engaging in the kind of sophistry he did. But Balasingham repeatedly asked the media to forget the past. It might have been music to his ears, trying to get out of an embarrassing situation. Had he denied LTTE involvement and therefore Prabhakaran's role in the plot- for Gandhi would never have been killed without his okay- it would have angered India even more than it did that day. He could not publicly admit the LTTE's involvement, that would have meant India was justified in seeking the extradition of Prabhakaran and his intelligence chief Pottu Amman.

The only way out of a difficult situation was an appeal to bury the past. But by saying so, Balasingham made a tacit admission of their guilt. How shameless it is then for Balasingham-and by extension the LTTE- to ask India through the Norwegians, to let Balasingham live in Chennai during the talks with the Sri Lanka government and avail himself of medical treatment there.

Not only that. The LTTE had the temerity to ask India to allow the talks to be held in Chennai or some other Indian city. If the request to New Delhi was an act of shameless effrontery, then how does one describe the attitude of Prime Minister Vajpayee's willingness even to consider such a request, when he should know that balasingham is a spokesman and chief negotiator of the organisation that, from India's perspective and of many millions of others in the world, assassinated a political leader, and the organisation's leader is still on the Indian "wanted list"?

Prime Minister Vajpayee cannot be ignorant of his country's dirty tricks in the post-1970s history of its relations with Sri Lanka and its behaviour as a big bully during a particularly chequered part of Indo-Sri Lankan relations. While agreeing with Parthasarathy that India should not burn its fingers again by trying to help the LTTE in the name of Hindu revivalism or whatever, he should remember that it was India that not only nurtured, funded and trained the LTTE along with other Tamil groups, but also later coerced the J R.Jayewardene-led UNP government to sign the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987.

There is plenty of evidence from Mani Dixit's "Assignment Colombo"-the critical four years he served as high commissioner- to the Jain Commission report and several other writings by Indians themselves which provide proof of Indian duplicity and how it dirtied its fingers promoting the war in Sri Lanka.

In an article dated 13 November 1997, published in the Indian Express Manvendra Singh wrote: " A cross-section of officials who dealt with India's crisis in Sri Lanka are clear about New Delhi's duplicity in dealing with the LTTE. The furore, therefore, over portions of the Jain Commission report pointing fingers at one of the Dravidian political parties is misplaced on account of one basic fact, every political organisation in Tamil Nadu, national or regional, was involved in promoting and sustaining activities of the LTTE and they were aided by the intelligence agencies of the Centre as well as the State government."

"From the beginning of India's involvement with militant Sri Lankan Tamil groups in 1981 until late 1993, its intelligence agencies were actively involved with, and in the promotion of the LTTE; and for most of this period, the Congress was the ruling party." Dixit states quite explicitly, says Singh, that besides the armed forces, no other Indian agency conducted itself with honour and integrity during the entire involvement with the Sri Lankan Tamil problem.

Manvendra Singh points out that some Indian intelligence agents were ambushed in the company of the LTTE by the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), unaware that New Delhi's operatives were even there and, above all, moving with the militants".
What is even more disgusting and damnable is that Indian intelligence agencies even organised an ambush in Ampara by the Indian-raised Tamil National Army on a Sri Lankan Army brigade commander without the knowledge of the IPKF leaders.
Despite all this collaboration and help by Indian intelligence to the LTTE against India's own soldiers, the LTTE never trusted Indian intentions, whatever they were. That is amply confirmed in Dixit's book.

So when Parthasarathy advisesVajpayee today not to allow the LTTE back on Indian soil, is it because of bitter experience, having burnt its fingers by meddling in Sri Lanka's affairs? But if Vajpayee feels that it is politically useful to show some empathy with those sections of the T N political establishment that still has links with the LTTE, he might feel inclined to poke his fingers in the pie.If he does not learn from the past, it is not his fingers he will find difficult to extricate but his foot.

Back to Top
 Back to Columns  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.