India’s Lanka self-goal
by Sandhya Jain on 27 Mar 2012 33 Comments

In an extremely myopic manoeuvre aimed at pleasing the world gendarme, India aborted all chances of rising as a regionally respected power by supporting the US-led resolution to censure Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Commission for alleged war crimes against civilians in the climax to its prolonged war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. Though driven by Chennai’s competitive regional politics, the move has upset the nation as a whole, and betrayed Colombo, with which we share a deep civilisational continuum.

In recent years, the UN and its affiliated bodies have functioned increasingly as tools of western imperialism. Sadly, New Delhi has fallen in line like a client state, failing to serve our national interests or to stand by traditional allies. Our pusillanimity in the case of Iran is a case in point; the Sri Lanka vote compounds our shame.

Nehruvian secularism has led us to this pass by negating our civilisational paradigm, making us lose the sense of our history, geography, and culture, which determined our understanding of ourselves and our relations with the neighbourhood. Even after Pakistan was created by literally amputating the motherland on two flanks, Indian leaders have failed to understand how the West uses minorities to interfere in the internal affairs of non-western countries, or to fragment them by upholding the right of minorities to secede.

Despite being supposedly secular (i.e., not a formal theocracy like some Islamic nations), the West has actively encouraged demographic change (Christian conversions) to promote secession; that is how East Timor was carved out of Indonesia. Many (Christian) secessionist movements are being sponsored worldwide, as in India’s north east, and the failed Tamil insurgency of Sri Lanka. Had it succeeded, India’s Tamil Nadu was slated to unite with it. Is New Delhi ready for such an eventuality?

By disrespecting our civilisational unity and strengths (which never meant India become a Hindu Theocracy as alleged by those serving a western worldview for selfish reasons), we have allowed the West to continue to (mis)use religion to pervert our internal sovereignty, and now also our foreign policy.

The LTTE is not an ethnic Tamil Hindu movement versus the Sinhala Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka, as insinuated. It is a Christian guerilla movement funded and nurtured by the West, with the purpose of carving out an independent state in the north and east of the island-nation. India’s Tamil Nadu was also to secede and join the Tamil Eelam. Vellupillai Prabhakaran was chosen for this task in 1976; he launched a full scale civil war from 1983 to 2009, when he was finally defeated and the LTTE decimated.

The extent of funding is obvious from the fact that the Tigers had a well-armed militia, even an air force, and an ability to hit high-value targets, viz., Sri Lanka President Ranasinghe Premadasa (1993) and former India Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (1991). At grassroots level in Sri Lanka, LTTE did not enjoy the loyalty of Tamil Hindus, and systematically murdered all rival Tamil leaders and at least 8000 Tamils whom it considered traitors to its cause.

The assassination of religious notables throws some light on the true nature of the conflict. Six high ranking Buddhist clergy were murdered by the LTTE; five Christian priests were killed by the Lanka Army and the sixth by the EPRLF. In no other category of victims – ministers, MPs, provincial councilors, military or police officers, and so on – do we get such an explicit divide. Little wonder Sri Lankan writers insist that LTTE was striving, under western tutelage, to transform the island’s Tamil population’s identity into a Dravidian Christian identity.

Sri Lankan analysts say that the UNHRC resolution was the West’s revenge for Colombo’s refusal to let Prabhakaran be rescued from the war zone in April-May 2009. So when Colombo’s 2011 ‘Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission’ failed to ‘credibly investigate’ allegations of war crimes against civilians, America-European Union took the UNHRC route to force Colombo to allow western agents into the country to monitor the implementation of the LLRC report.

New Delhi reportedly supported Colombo’s mission to decimate the LTTE and Prabhakaran after President Mahinda Rajapaksa promised to change Sri Lanka’s unitary form of government and devolve real power to the Tamil-majority northern and eastern provinces. When he failed to redress genuine Tamil concerns in the past three years, New Delhi decided to vote against Colombo in Geneva. However, security experts feel India should have taken up the issue of Tamil rehabilitation bilaterally with Colombo.

Indian citizens feel that having espoused the cause of Lankan Tamils, Delhi should move the UNHRC on atrocities against Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Even President Asif Zardari’s sister has lamented the abduction and forced conversion of Hindu girls in that country, and a fledgling group of intellectuals has begun to interrogate Pakistan’s barren civilisational landscape owing to the eclipse of its Hindu roots.

Colombo’s disappointment with New Delhi for supporting the resolution has been heightened by the final vote count - 24 in favour, 15 against, and 8 abstentions. This means that an Indian vote against, or even abstention, would have stalemated the western quest to embarrass an Asian neighbour. Colombo was firmly supported by Asian countries like China, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Maldives, and also by Russia, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

New Delhi departed from an established convention of not voting on nation-specific resolutions because of its inability to stand up to pressure from Washington and the political parties in Chennai. Instead of buckling to DMK threats to withdraw its Ministers from the ruling coalition, the Prime Minister would have done well to sacrifice the government rather than the nation’s principled position.

The plea that India persuaded the resolution-sponsor to make two changes in the draft to make it “non-intrusive” and contribute to political reconciliation process in the island has not washed with Colombo. Experts anticipate some kind of retaliation in the form of more contracts for China, which strongly opposed western-backed interference in the domestic affairs of member nations.

Now, strategic experts fear that by supporting a country-specific resolution against a friendly nation, India will find herself friendless if and when faced with similar resolutions for alleged human rights violations in Kashmir or missionary-backed insurgents in other parts of the country. The nation may pay a heavy price for Dr Manmohan Singh’s political expediency.

The author is Editor,

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