The Indian interlude
India has woken with a jolt from its long interval of blissful slumber with regard to the North East of Sri Lanka. India burnt its fingers quite badly in the "LTTE experiment'' when the Brahmins of the South block chose to extend Indian hegemony in the immediate geopolitical neighbourhood. As India did previously in operation Bangladesh by arming the Mukthi Bahini, India funded, trained and gave all kinds of succour to the fledgling Tiger. Early mid-wifery, birth, nursing and formative growth of the Tiger was all courtesy mother India. But the adolescent Tiger kicked the parents in the shin, bloodied the nose of the Indian army, and eventually carried out a patricidal attack of sorts in assassinating the one time Prime Minister of the country.

But, the "adult'' Tiger of today is self flagellating in remorse. The Tigers know that going against India was arguably the biggest blunder ever committed in the movement's twenty year struggle for independence. The Tiger leadership which once crowed that "surely the Tamils and the Sinhalese should be able to sort their problems without Indian interference ''( that was when the IPKF was here) now wants India to forget the past and embrace the errant and delinquent child to its bosom. Refer Anton Balasingham's plaintive cry during the press conference in which he referred to India as the "fatherland.''

For the Indian leadership, the LTTE and the current northern insurgency which was fathered by them, is something that is stuck in India's throat. India bit off clearly more than it could chew, and now the Indian leadership doesn't quite know whether to spit out or swallow. After burning their fingers quite raw with the IPKF, India has now adopted a hands-off approach. Even when Jaffna was on the verge of falling into LTTE hands in May of 2000, India froze not knowing what exactly to do. India didn't want to get involved by helping evacuate 40,000 beleaguered Sri Lankan troops in the peninsula.
The Indians saw the Norwegians enter the scene as facilitators and later as mediators, but still did not want to get "involved''; thereby the Indian leadership missed the bus and abdicated their role as regional superpower and was content with lesser role of being "kept informed.''

When Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe visited India soon after his December electoral victory, the Indians welcomed a negotiated settlement between Colombo and the LTTE. The Indians also did not mind the LTTE being considered the sole representative of the Sri Lanakan Tamil people. In their hearts of hearts, the Indians probably thought, or perhaps wished that all this talk about peace was a good deal of hogwash. Perhaps the reading was that nothing will come out of it. The Indians realise that the peace process is accelerating at some pace. It appears that soon a group of armed rebels will be in control of territory within 144mm artillery range of fire from its own soil, thanks to an interim administration which would also give the Tigers control of Trincomalee. The LTTE in the meanwhile is straining to revive memories of a pan-Tamil homeland embracing 60 million Tamilians in the state of Tamil Nadu, and the Tigers are now straining to mend fences with India.

But, the Indians, especially the Tamil Nadu political elite, are simultaneously screaming that India should send its army to Sri Lanka to apprehend Prabhakaran. The doomsday scenario for both Sri Lanka and India would no doubt be the day the Vaikos of Tamil Nadu wrest political control in the topsy-turvy politics of that state.


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