By Adeela Naureen and Umar Waqar
With DMK president M. Karunanidhi’s decision to quit both the Union Cabinet and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the political environment in India has taken another turn,Anti Sri Lanaka sentiment has grown stonger, Mr Karunanindhi has argued that continuing in the government and the alliance would be great harm to the Sri Lankan Tamils.
Of late Sri Lankans visiting or staying in India have been harassed, assaulted and booed, especially in Southern India, as reported by The Hindu, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka was assaulted by three unidentified persons on board the Tamil Nadu Express, just as it arrived at Chennai Central Railway Station on Monday. This is the second such attack in three days, the first being on a monk at the Big Temple in Thanjavur. Recently Srilankan cricket players playing for IPL were barred from playing in Chennai by AIDMK led government of Jayalalitha.
Why have Sri Lanka and her people become a target and victim of Indian hate and undue pressure? It is important to understand India’s treatment to her smaller neighbours who happen to challenge Indian hegemony and try to maintain their sovereignty in the geographically Indo- Centric South Asia .
Delhi- Colombo relationship has seen many ups and downs,most of the time remaining uneasy, referring to Ceylon Today, India enjoyed a highly cordial relationship with leaders such as Sirimavo Bandaranaike, unrepentantly pro-India, and disliked with equal zeal, the likes of Presidents J.R. Jayewardene and R. Premadasa, who did not consider it important to play a submissive role to the regional power. That’s another snag India finds in the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
But in our view it is not as simple as stated by Ceylon Today, Indian hostility towards Sri Lanka is deep rooted in history and culture. Valmiki’s Ramayana and its context of struggle between Rama and Ravana is essentially ingrained in Indian psyche and folklore, Sri Lanka is the symbol of eternal villainy and cannot be pardoned for whatever happened to Seeta as Ravana wilfully decided to stay on wrong side of Indian history.
In modern history and not long ago, Sri Lanka was a paradise on earth, highly educated and enterprising people, Sinhala and Tamils lived side by side with peace and prosperity. Sri Lanka boasted to be the best in Human Resourse Development in South Asia and was a tourist paradise. The reflection of brightness across the Palk Strait was too much to bear for the Indian Establishment, thus a plan was chartered in the South Block to sow the seeds of terror and hatred between the majority Sinhala and minority Tamils which morphed into LTTE(Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam) with RAW’s trademark stamped on its forehead. As per Wikipedia, from August 1983 to May 1987, India, through its intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), provided arms, training and monetary support to 6 Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups including LTTE. During that period, 32 camps were set up all over India to train these militants. 495 LTTE militants, including 90 women were trained in 10 batches.First batch of Tigers were trained in Establishment 22 based in Chakrata, Uttarakhand. Second batch including LTTE intelligence chief Pottu Amman was trained in Himachal Pradesh. Prabakaran himself visited the first and the second batch of Tamil Tigers to see them training.8 other batches of LTTE were trained in Tamil Nadu. RAW’s dirty game of supporting LTTE has continued till recent times. At its peak the LTTE was a ruthless war machine(courtesy RAW).Refering to Wikipedia, the military wing consisted of at least 11 separate divisions including the conventional fighting forces, Charles Anthony Brigade and Jeyanthan Brigade; the dreaded suicide wing called the Black Tigers; naval wing Sea Tigers, air-wing Air Tigers, LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s personal security divisions, Pandian regiment and Ratha regiment; auxiliary military units such as Kittu artillery brigade, Kutti Sri mortar brigade, Ponnamman mining unit and hit-and-run squads like Pistol gang. Charles Anthony brigade was the first conventional fighting formation created by LTTE. Sea Tiger division was founded in 1984, under the leadership of Thillaiyampalam Sivanesan alias Soosai. LTTE acquired its first light aircraft in late 1990s. Vaithilingam Sornalingam alias Shankar was instrumental in creating the Air Tigers. It carried out 9 air attacks since 2007, including one last suicide air raid targeting Sri Lanka Air Force headquarters, Colombo in February 2009. LTTE is the only terrorist-proscribed organization to acquire aircraft. LTTE intelligence wing consisted of Tiger Organization Security Intelligence Service aka TOSIS, run by Pottu Amman, and a separate military intelligence division.
In the civil war, thousands lost their lives and Sri Lanka became a basket case of governance.RAW through her stronghold in Tamil Nadu played the dirty game by arming and equipping the LTTE and bleeding Sri Lanka white. The most hilarious episode of this double face Chankia strategy was Operation Cactus where Indian Army intervened in Sri Lanka in garb of a peacekeeping force to help the Sri Lankan government against the warring LTTE. What happened to Operation Cactus is another story of failure of this Indian adventure with its epitaph written with the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Ironically, Thenmozhi Rajaratnam alias Dhanu, who carried out the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Sivarasan – the key conspirator were among the militants trained by RAW, in Nainital, India(Wikipedia).
The grand finale of the LTTE crises was played in the time of incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa whose leadership inspired the Sri Lankan military to win a grand victory against the LTTE and reunite Sri Lanka as one entity. RAW’s last strongholds in Jaffna( Kilinochchi and town of Mullaitivu) fell in May 2009,with President Mahinda Rajapaksa declaring victory.
Thus the current Anti Sri Lanka sentiment in Indian polity is born out of frustration of inability to keep a small but proud nation of Sri Lankans humiliated through kinetic means. Indian intelligence apparatus has now resorted to massive employment of Non Kinetic War against Sri Lanka where politico diplomatic pressure, economic arm twisting including cheep tactics of targeting Sri Lankan cricketers and tourists and psychological operations through print and electronic media have become the chosen tools of Indian state craft. However, Sri Lanka has developed strong ties with other regional countries like Pakistan, China and Bangladesh who have supported her in difficult times and continue to do it after Sri Lanka’s victory against scourge of terror. Sri Lanka is bound to find her well deserved place in comity of nations again.