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Tigers' travesty

The Tamil Tigers, swiftly losing international support, are now turning towards India for help, writes Meenakshi Iyer.

india Updated: Jul 01, 2006 18:41 IST

The Tamil Tiger's recent volte-face on Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's assassination has shocked political analysts worldwide who know A to Z about LTTE.

Ever since the killing of India's charismatic leader in 1991, the Tamil rebel group has never admitted its guilt.

In fact, at one of the Oslo peace talks sessions in 2002, Anton Balasingham - the ideologue who did the needful for the LTTE this time - himself had "categorically" denied any involvement, and had stormed out of the room looking "very angry".

"It is a monumental hypocrisy, an insult to Indian public opinion as well as international opinion. The Tigers don't clearly say in the tape that they did it. This kind of statement by Balasingham does not absolve them of the culpability," says General VR Raghavan, Director of Centre for Strategic Analysis.

In an interview to a private channel in New Delhi, the LTTE's ideologue had said that what happened in 1992 was a "great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy, for which we deeply regret and we call upon the Government of India and people of India to put the past behind".

What took the LTTE so long to realise their "monumental blunder"? Have the Tigers really changed their stripes, or is it just another classic LTTE ploy? 

"The LTTE is isolated internationally. They have nothing to show as a peace dividend in spite of a ceasefire of four years. They must know by now that without India's intervention there can be no solution."

"And they will know that India's involvement, if not directly but indirectly on behalf of the Sri Lankan government will be worse for them," reasons Dr S Chandrasekharan, Director of South Asia Analysis Group.

The move by the Tamil rebels comes amid mounting violence in the island nation. The group's image suffered a severe blow after it was banned by the European Union.

"In the very first place, the Tigers are trying to sidestep the tragedy by saying that it is a monumental tragedy. Secondly, they are trying to create differences between the Sri Lankan and the Indian governments. LTTE now wants India on their side," clarifies General Raghavan.

What Raghavan asks is: "Are these the Tigers who conspired with President Premadasa in the 90s to oust the Indian Peace Keeping Force?"

"Sorrow", "repentance" and "forgiveness", which smack of sublime spirituality, can never be in the vocabulary of a killing machine, which vows adherence to ways of the brute, says Sri Lanka's leading paper Daily News.

The Tigers' recent act has become more or less a "tragicomedy" the world over.

While a few parties in India call it "silly", back home in Sri Lanka too, the Tigers are being laughed at!

"Repentance for the spilling of innocent blood, coming from an organisation, which seems to be having an insatiable appetite for terror, is an incongruity, which is comic in the extreme," says the Daily News editorial.

Both Raghavan and Chandrasekharan say that it is difficult to forget and forgive such a dastardly attack and believe that India should now drag the Tigers to the court of law.

If indeed, the LTTE wanted to apologise for Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, it should say that publicly, in court, where there a criminal case pending against the Tiger chieftain Velupillai Prabhakaran, according to a Sri Lankan government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwela.

Prabhakaran and his Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman, who are the first and second accused in the case, are still "proclaimed offenders" and the Interpol has been on the hunt for them.

Also, aptly, India has made it clear that forgiving the Tigers is tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination. The Sri Lankan media reiterates this view.

"Even if the LTTE goes on its bended knees to India over the granting of a pardon for the assassination of former Premier Rajiv Gandhi, India would remain unswayed, for this would amount to endorsing the Tigers' policy of using terror for the achievement of political aims," says Daily News.

The Secretary General of the government Peace Secretariat Dr Palitha Kohona describes Balasingham's "apology" as a "political ploy" to prevent India from taking any decisions which might affect the LTTE adversely.

Clearly, Balasingham's ploy has failed.

He had wanted a sympathetic response in India. But all he got was brickbats and egg on his face.

Even the response in Tamil Nadu has been extremely lukewarm with Chief Minister Karunanidhi saying that Balasingham's statement is confusing!

The Tiger's think tank will now have to come up with another ploy.