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Junk the double standard

As the smoke lifted from the five-star ruins in Mumbai, many in Colombo hoped that at least post-Mumbai, India’s blurred vision on terror would clear up, reports Sutirtho Patranobis.

world Updated: Dec 17, 2008 00:09 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times

i wrote in this column two weeks ago that Sri Lanka keenly followed the 60-hour-long siege of Mumbai and empathised with the victims.

What it also did next, as statements made by Indian politicians on eradicating terrorism were put on the table and dissected, was to gently remind its big neighbour that Lankans too have been under a terrorist siege — for 25 years now. And that India has had more than little involvement in the matter.

As the smoke lifted from the five-star ruins in Mumbai, many in Colombo hoped that at least post-Mumbai, India’s blurred vision on terror would clear up; she would now see terrorism in a, sharp, clear light and not in shades of black or white. Also, that the Indian government would stop entertaining delegations of Tamil Nadu politicians urging the Centre to intervene and arrange for a ceasefire between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government.

Newspaper editorials were scathing about India’s duality on the issue of terrorism.

“India ought to practise what it preaches to the world. If it wants others to stop sponsoring its terrorists, it must first of all desist from aiding and abetting terrorism in the neighbouring lands on flimsy pretexts. Its foreign policy is replete with hypocrisy and arrogance…” said a page-one editorial in the Island newspaper.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s statements during his Indo-Pak visit were not spared. “The late Anton Balasingham who coordinated LTTE operations from London was a British citizen. The LTTE activists are raising funds in Britain, in spite of a ban, to perpetuate bloodletting in Sri Lanka,” said another editorial.

K Godage, former Lankan diplomat, who served in India in the early 90s, said India can no longer have double standards on terrorism. “India under Indira Gandhi trained and armed the LTTE in camps across the country (India). The LTTE have killed thousands of people including an Indian PM and several of our politicians. Are they not terrorists? The Indian government should stop trying to satisfy the likes of Karunanidhi and Vaiko,” Godage said.

Sri Lanka had been quick to condemn the violence in Mumbai but also smartly inserted its own stand in the message. “These unfortunate attacks bring into focus the urgent need for concerted action by all countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism, wherever it is, and whoever the leaders and manipulators of such violence may be,” President Mahinda Rajapaksa said.

It however remains to be seen how well the ruling UPA mixes and balances its diplomatic impulses with weighty political-regional compulsions. Or whether, India decides to separate the Tamil from the Tiger.