Changing Times: The Fall of the L T T E in Sri Lanka

With the recent capture of Kilinochchi, the administrative headquarters of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE), the Sri Lankan government may be anticipating the end of the long lasting military war against the LTTE However, the appalling reality is that the end of LTTE may not necessarily be the end of Tamil separatism.


It goes without saying that the capture of Kilinochchi which has been out of Colombo’s grip for decades is indeed a milestone in the Sri Lankan civil war and has placed it on the verge of victory. LTTE is no longer as strong as it once used to be now as it does not have an administrative base to operate from. This is also going to have an impact on the course of the ongoing war as the LTTE will now be compelled to resort to guerilla tactics to press for its cause.


Flipping through the pages of history, one will find that LTTE wasn’t the first group to demand a separate state for Tamilians and it is unlikely that it will be the last if the interests of Tamilians, the largest minority of Sri Lanka are not catered to. With what began as a mere organization formed to represent the claims of Tamil minorities in the 1970s, with time, have become a full-fledged military organization demanding a separate state for Sri Lankan Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka. Some countries including India, and rightly so, have declared LTTE to be a terrorist organization.


While one might be tempted to justify the motives of LTTE as an outcry against discrimination and a demand for justice, but their means to meet their goals is not just extreme but also against humanity. Assassinations, human rights violations, attack on civilians, child soldiers, suicide bombings, ethnic cleansing (with respect to Sinhalese and Muslims in areas under their control), credit-card frauds, sea piracy, arms smuggling are just a few LTTE tactics. LTTE is one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world that has not backed off from targeting innocent civilians.


Rajapaksa’s government should take full advantage of the fact that LTTE is now a weak force. The time has come for Colombo to put forth a political, reconstructive and reconciliative package with constitutional reforms and enforce them as well. A political solution which recognizes the legitimate concerns of the Tamils is a must if peace and order are to be restored.


Interestingly, the Sri Lankan army is waging a battle not just against LTTE but also against the aspirations of the Sri Lankan Tamils. The civilians are bearing the brunt of the war and thousands of innocents have lost their life and the number keeps rising exponentially. Moreover, the Sri Lankan Tamils regard Sri Lanka as a Sinhalese-chauvinist entity where ethnic rights of minorities are not recognized. The duty of convincing them that Sri Lanka is an inclusive state where Tamils do have a future now rests upon the shoulders of Colombo. This conflict has to be resolved outside the frame-work of military war between LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces.


India’s stand on the issue has been indeed quite apt so far. Subsequent to IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force) stance in 1987, India has refrained itself from any kind of criticism of the Sri Lankan army ever since 1990.By recently, summoning Sri Lanka’s deputy high commissioner in New Delhi and conveying its “grave concern and unhappiness at the growing casualties of unarmed Tamil civilians”, India is finally waking up in the dawn of the changing Sri Lankan political scenario. This subtle but a certain shift in India’s stance towards LTTE is a result of the pressure from political parties of Tamil Nadu to whom the concerns of Sri Lankan Tamils are obviously understandable. However, the Indian government should not allow this emotional linkage to take over its strategic command of the situation. Its time India now urges Colombo to chalk out a political package for its nation and show its full support for the same.


Yashi Trivedi

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