New Delhi — Three more Sri Lankan Tamil politicians are arriving here for consultations as India comes under pressure to save the island’s barely alive peace process amid a surge in human rights violations.
V. Anandasangaree of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), D. Sitharthan of the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and T. Sritharan of the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) will fly in Monday to discuss the Sri Lanka situation with senior Indian officials.
All three – Anandasangaree and Sitharthan are former MPs – are bitterly opposed to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), unlike the five MPs of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) of Sri Lanka who ended their visit Friday after meeting Indian leaders and policy makers.
The Indian government, facing demands to up its involvement in Sri Lanka, is keen to get first hand knowledge of the crisis from various actors. A delegation of JHU, a party of Buddhist monks, may follow the three Tamil politicians.
The idea is to interact with a wide spectrum of opinion, ranging from the LTTE, which while being outlawed in India is a key party to the conflict, to Tamils ready to be part of Sri Lanka but desiring devolution of powers as well as Sinhalese firmly opposed to power sharing with the Tamil community.
A sharp rise in fighting since July between the military and the LTTE has left hundreds of people dead and over 200,000 displaced in Sri Lanka’s northeast. The clashes have also forced thousands to flee to India.
With no sign if the derailed peace talks between Colombo and the LTTE will resume and if so when, a large number of Tamils from Sri Lanka are turning to India to complain about growing incidents of rights violations including extra-judicial killings and disappearances – issues the TNA MPs took up with National Security Advisor M.K. Narayanan here Thursday.
Ordinary Tamils who say they are approaching India in desperation because they are not confident of getting justice from Sri Lankan authorities are speaking to Indian officials in both Colombo and New Delhi.
A similar situation took place in April, forcing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to speak over the telephone to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse.
While disagreeing with the political objective of the LTTE, other Tamil parties share the assessment that the situation is serious and an end to the crisis does not appear to be in sight.
This, they feel, is primarily because there is no meeting ground as of now between the LTTE and a government, sections of which feel that war is the way to overcome the Tigers.
Many Tamils are saying that India has to get involved seriously in the peace process even if Norway remains in the driver’s seat and that India alone can bring about a solution. But no one is spelling out what they expect from New Delhi.
LTTE circles feel that Colombo’s seemingly adamant refusal to go for power sharing with the Tamils while professing support for a negotiated solution may force global actors to realize that pledging support for Sri Lanka’s unity and territorial integrity will not push it to make meaningful concessions.
At the same time, Colombo fears that the LTTE is not serious about a long-term settlement and is intent on breaking up Sri Lanka.
India is caught in between. It remains committed to supporting Sri Lanka’s unity but feels that legitimate Tamil aspirations have to be met.
Neither is happening, and a worried Indian administration – which in the 1980s badly burnt its fingers by imposing a solution to the crisis that eventually led to fighting between its troops and the LTTE – is trying to find out what is to be done. The talks with various Sri Lankan actors are a part of the exercise.