NEED FOR INCREASED ALERTNESS AGAINST LTTE
INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM MONITOR---PAPER NO.382
An official statement issued by the headquarters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on March 11,2008 (text annexed) on the high-profile visit of Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka, the chief of the Sri Lankan army and the architect of the successful counter-terrorism operations by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, to India in the first week of March,2008, is an indicator of the desperation of the LTTE and its bitterness against the Government of India.
2. Its desperation arises from its loss of control of the territory administered by it in the Eastern Province during 2006 and 2007, its inability to counter effectively the successful air strikes by the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) against positions held by it in the Northern Province and the steady diminition in its operational capabilities due to the successful disruption of its capability for the replenishment of its stocks of arms and ammunition and explosives by the Sri Lankan Air Force and Navy, with the co-operation of the international community, including India, in the form of timely supply of valuable intelligence.
3. The LTTE is not yet a failed or a failing non-State actor. It still has considerable biting capacity. It still has a large supply of well-trained and well-motivated cadres. In the Northern Province where the battle lines have shifted, it has much greater local support than it had in the Eastern Province. Its morale, capacity for innovation and determination to continue fighting are intact. But in the absence of material replenishments, its capacity for offensive operations has been eroded and it has been forced to fight a defensive battle to save the territory still under its control. Till now, it has been doing well despite the claims to the contrary by the Sri Lankan defence spokesmen.
4. India's policy till now has been one of covert assistance to the Sri Lankan intelligence in improving its collection and assessment capabilities, sharing of intelligence collected by the much-better endowed Indian intelligence agencies, strengthening the defence capabilities of Sri Lanka in the matter of anti-aircraft equipment and facilitating the operations of the Sri Lankan Navy for disrupting the overseas supply channels of the LTTE.
5. Indian public opinion, including public opinion in Tamil Nadu, could not have objected to these measures for co-operation since they remained covert and not brazenly overt and since there was a well-defined Laxman Rekha (dividing line), which our Armed Forces and intelligence agencies were told not to cross. That Laxman Rekha related to co-operation between the two armies, which could have facilitated the Sri Lankan Army's ground operations against the LTTE in the Northern Province.
6. Independent analysts and reliable sources are agreed that the Sri Lankan Army's successes in the Eastern Province were achieved at a tremendous human cost, with large-scale violation of the human rights of the civilian population. Lt.Gen. Fonseka and Mr. Gothbaya Rajpaksa, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapksa, who is the Defence Secretary, are not models of rectitude in matters concerning respect for the human rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Sensing what they see as a historic victory in their fight against the LTTE, these two have been contemptuously dismissing all reports regarding the violation of the human rights of the Sri Lankan Tamils. There are some indications of Western re-thinking on their attitude to the Rajapaksa Government because of its brazen dismissal of all concerns regarding the human rights situation in the Tamil areas.
7. Senior officers of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces have been visiting India from time to time for discussions on Indian assistance and military-military relations. Even Gothbaya Rajapaksa has been visiting New Delhi periodically. But these visits were low profile and the Government of India took care not to create an impression of Indian lack of concern over the human rights situation. The high-profile visit of Fonseka and the kind of honours openly accorded to him indicated that the Laxman Rekha, which has so far characterised the co-operation between the armed forces of the two countries, is ceasing to exist and that there is probably a greater readiness----even eagerness--- on the part of the Indian Army to co-operate with the Sri Lankan Army in matters which might facilitate its ground operations against the LTTE in the Northern Province. This perception of a disappearing Laxman Rekha is not confined to the LTTE. It is palpable among large sections of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka and in the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora.
8. The desperation and the bitterness caused by this perception have triggered off the official statement of the LTTE. In a language reminiscent of the language which it was using withn regard to Indian policies before the shocking assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May,1991, it has charactetrised any possible change in the Indian policy as amounting to a new historical blunder and insinuated that the Government of India is putting itself in a position, which could be viewed as complicity in what it sees as the Sri Lankan Government's policy of genocide of the Tamils.
9. The LTTE, like other international terrorist organisations, follows a policy of coming out with comments, not amounting to official statements, which are disseminated by the media controlled by it and coming out with an official statement only in exceptional circumstances. The fact that the LTTE has now come out with an official statement on the co-operation between the two armies indicates that it might be considering the options available to it to counter this.
10. It is important to re-examine and revamp our intelligence and operational capabilities to neutralise any plan of the LTTE to mount another terrorist strike in Indian territory or against Indian nationals or interests. It would be unwise to dismiss its statement as a desperate outburst of no or only limited consequence.
11. In recent months, the Police in Tamil Nadu and Kerala have detected attempts by the LTTE to procure supplies and possibly ships also from India through locals. From the published reports, it would seem that many of the locals, who had helped the LTTE, did so for money and not out of sympathy for its cause. But the likely re-emergence of pockets of sympathy for the LTTE's cause is an ever-present danger.
12. Both the Governments of India and Sri Lanka want to neutralise the LTTE for different objectives. The Indian objective is to punish it for its assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and to render it incapable of terrorism. The Sri Lankan objective is to crush it as a terrorist organisation and re-impose the will and interests of the Sinhalese majority over the Tamil minority. Despite all the sweet talk from President Rajapaksa and his officers and advisers, their policy towards the Tamils continues to be characterised by their desire for a dictated peace and their modus operandi of divide and rule.
13. India should not give an impression that there is a convergence of objectives between the two countries. The Laxman Rekha has served us well in the past and should serve us well in future. (13-3-08)
(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. E-mail: email@example.com )
TEXT OF LTTE'S STATEMENT OF MARCH 10,2008
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
10 March 2008
Is the Indian State attempting yet another historic blunder?
The State welcome given by the Indian State to the Sri Lanka military chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, who is heading the Sri Lankan State’s war of ethnic genocide against the Eelam Tamils, has deeply hurt them.
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) strongly condemns the Indian State action of extending a State welcome to the military chief of the Sinhala State which has unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire agreement and has launched widespread military offensives in the Tamil homeland.
The Sri Lankan State is facing many warnings and condemnations for its attempt to seek a military solution and for its enormous human rights violations.
Despite this, the Sinhala State ignores these warnings and condemnations and continues with its abductions, killings, and arrests of Tamils.
The Sinhala State, keen to cover up this truth, is blaming the freedom movement of the Tamils, the LTTE, for the continuation of the war and is seeking assistance from the world for its war of ethnic genocide.
Many of the European countries, understanding this hidden motive of the Sinhala State, have halted all assistance that could support the ethnic genocide of the Tamils.
The Indian State also knows this truth. Yet, while pronouncing that a solution to the Tamil problem must be found through peaceful means, it is giving encouragement to the military approach of the Sinhala State. This can only lead to the intensification of the genocide of the Tamils.
LTTE wishes to point out to the Indian State that by this historic blunder it will continue to subject the Eelam Tamils to misery and put them in the dangerous situation of having to face ethnic genocide on a massive scale. On behalf of the Eelam Tamils, LTTE kindly requests the Tamils of Tamil Nadu to understand this anti-Tamil move of the Indian State and express their condemnation.
We did not leave the ceasefire agreement and we did not start the war. We are only undertaking a defensive war against the war of ethnic genocide of the Sri Lankan State.
We still have not abandoned the Norway sponsored peace efforts and we are ready to take part in such efforts.
In this context, the Indian State’s move of propping up the politically-militarily-economically weakened SriLankan State has upset Eelam Tamils.
The view expressed by the Indian military chiefs, "India wants to ensure that the Sri Lankan Army maintains its upperhand over the LTTE", just illustrates the efforts of the Indian State to prop up the Sinhala war machine.
The Indian State must take the responsibility for the ethnic genocide of the Tamils that will be carried out by the Sinhala military re-invigorated by such moves of the Indian State.