Tuesday, February 3, 2009

NEED TO STRENGTHEN SECURITY FOR SONIA GANDHI

B.RAMAN

Angered by the reluctance of the international community, including the Government of India, to exercise pressure on the Government ofMahinda Rajapaksa to observe a ceasefire to protect the 150,000 Sri Lankan Tamils caught up in the conflict zone in the Wanni area,pro-LTTE web sites have kept up their attacks on the Government of India and the Congress (I). These attacks are in the form of unsigned orpseudonymous articles and letters to the web site editors.

2. The attacks on Mrs.Sonia Gandhi tend to be vicious. The Congress (I) is projected as the "Sonia Congress" and the "Dynasty Congress "and the Government of India as the "Sonia Establishment". She has also been projected as not nationalistic. On February 3,2009, criticismsof Shri M.Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, appeared for the first time. Pro-LTTE elements abroad seem to be unhappy with himfor not exercising pressure on the Government of India to stop the fighting in the Wanni area.

3. While there is no evidence to show that these attacks are emanating from the LTTE leadership, the fact that they are being disseminatedthrough pro-LTTE web sites would show a silent nod of approval of the LTTE leadership for these orchestrated criticisms. Keeping in viewthe dangers of a negative impact of such attacks on the minds of irrational elements in the Tamil community, it would be prudent tostrengthen the security for Mrs.Sonia Gandhi.

4.The LTTE leadership and those sections of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora supporting it are increasingly desperate and bitter over thereluctance of the international community to exercise pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to suspend the military operations in theWanni area. The LTTE's calculations that just as the international community exercised pressure on Israel to suspend its military operationsin the Lebanon in 2006 and in Gaza recently before Israel had achieved its military objectives, it would exercise pressure on the RajapaksaGovernment to suspend the military operations against the LTTE have proved wrong.

5. Prabakaran's cynical use of the civilians to intimidate the international community into intervening is one more diastrous blundercommitted by him and has lost him even the little sympathy which he might have had in the past. He is apparently in such a state of illusionthat he does not seem to realise that whereas almost the entire Islamic world supported the Hezbollah and Hamas and exercised pressureon Israel to discontinue its operations, the LTTE has no friends left in the international community except possibly the African NationalCongress (ANC) of South Africa.

6. He and his irrational supporters do not seem to realise that the world's attitude to terrorism changed after 9/11 and that India's attitudeto terrorism became stronger after the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai. How can India demand strong action against the jihadi terroristsby Pakistan and come in the way of strong action by the Sri Lankan Government against the LTTE's terrorism?

7. The anger of many of the Sri Lankan Tamils should be a cause for concern. While India cannot but support ---or at least refrain fromcriticising---- the counter-terrorism operations of the Sri Lankan Government,it should remove the impression widely prevalent in the SriLankan Tamil community that but for its military assistance the Sri Lankan Army could not have succeeded. Large sections of the SriLankan Tamil community in Sri Lanka itself as well as abroad have convinced themselves that the Govt. of India has been playing a doublegame-----making a pretense of supporting the human rights of the Tamils and, at the same time, quietly assisting the Rajapaksa Governmentin crushing the Tamils.

8. In the absence of strong statements or denials from Delhi, the Sri Lankan Government and its officials such as Gothbaya Rajapaksa, theDefence Secretary, who is the brother of the President, and Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka, the Army chief, have been mischievously creating animpression that whatever they are doing against the Tamils has the tacit support of the Govt. of India,

9. It is not advisable for the Govt. of India to be seen by large sections of the Sri Lankan Tamils as not only anti-LTTE--- rightl;y so--- but also as anti-Tamil. Indira Gandhi was the most popular Indian leader among the Sri Lankan Tamils. They felt that her heart genuinely bled for therights and sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Large sections of the Tamil community are bitter that the present Congress (I) leadershipdoes not share her empathy for them.

10. How to have this impression corrected without giving an impression of encouraging terrorism? That is the question, which shouldengage the attention of the Indian political leadership and diplomats. (3-2-09)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com )

4 comments:

Padmanaban said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raymond Turney said...

Dear Sir,

Whether or not to increase Sonia's security is a technical security versus political effectiveness tradeoff. I will leave this tradeoff to India's security people and Sonia.

That said, is it possible to arrange for asylum in India, and relocation to Tamil Nadhu, for Sri Lankan Tamil civilians? Reports are that the situation in Sri Lanka for Tamils is desperate.

Ray,

Padmanaban said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaan said...

Agreed that we need to ensure the security of Sonia Gandhi to avoid another embarrassment for Indian Tamils. But I have other points to make.

2)"The Congress (I) is projected as the "Sonia Congress" and the "Dynasty Congress "and the Government of India as the "Sonia Establishment". She has also been projected as not nationalistic."
- Is there any wrong in this? Is the Congress not run by 'the dynasty'? Is she nationalistic? What nationalism can you expect from a person of non-Indian origin?

There are reports in the media that even when the news of the siege in Mumbai on Nov 26 came out, 'the prince' was partying hard.

Perhaps the only people who could be said to be nationalistic in today's congress are Pranab Mukherjee and P.Chidambaram. All others including the PM are dummies. However as a friend of Bush our PM will open his mouth when US national interests are involved. When the nation is crying for war with Pakistan our 'intellectual' PM will send New Year greetings to perpetrators of massacre in Mumbai.

3) While it could be agreed that irrational elements in Tamil community may be want to take revenge, but only if there is active guidance from elements in LTTE it could be carried out.

4) Irrespective of the LTTE's calculations the situation has turned grave.

5)Prabhakaran has long before lost the ability to lead an open life, immediately after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.

6) "He and his irrational supporters do not seem to realise that the world's attitude to terrorism changed after 9/11 and that India's attitudeto terrorism became stronger after the 26/11 terrorist attack in Mumbai."
- the Indian public is yet to see any meaningful action by either the international community or the Indian govt except empty rhetoric.

7) Of course the Lankan govt could not have succeeded if India had not provided intelligence assistance. Even as parties in TN have called for bandh today yesterday the IAF took the Sri lankan airforce personnel to a police station in Tambaram in full public view. This shows the callous and careless attitude of the central govt towards the feelings of Tamils. How can this be denied?

8) The Sri lankans have a history of pitting one Tamil kingdom in TN against the other and surviving in the process. They are doing the same in the case of TN vs Center. This will not decrease, it will only increase after military victory. Xenophobia would be let loose in SL and TN would be on boil while Center 'respects' Sri lanka's sovereignty.

9) It is good that pro-LTTE sites actually call GoI as 'Sonia establishment' instead of directly portraying India in general as the villain.

10)By all indications it seems that the LTTE would be soon destroyed as a conventional force, and at a heavy civilian cost. War crimes are being committed by the Sri lankan army, there is no question in that. Soon Prabhakaran may flee the island or die.

But there is no sign that Sri lanka would allow the Tamils to live with equality and dignity, without outside pressure. Also the rights of 5 lac Indian Tamils has to be ensured. All this would only happen under a federal setup in Sri lanka. The Rajabaksha govt's refusal to change the unitary nature of Sri lanka confirms the fears that the Sinhalese may be settled in Tamil regions by force and the Tamil culture could be sidelined. However all this could change if there is enough pressure from India without fear. The present Sri lankan constitution has to be rewritten based on the Indian constitution. Is India ready to take this bold step? If India indeed does this, it is possible that the Tamils would throw the past behind and proceed to strengthen the cultural bond between India and Sri lanka. There is much benefits to reap for Srilanka and India if there is peace in Sri lanka, otherwise Sri lanka would be another threat to India like Bangladesh.