Vande Mataram

Thursday, May 21, 2009

SriLanka and Tamils - An issue centuries old

Many voices and some fists have been raised in wake of the news of the LTTE head honcho Prabakaran's death in the hands of the SriLankan Army (or his suicide.) People tend to jump to a conclusion that with the death of Prabakaran, the Tamil-Sinhala fighting would be over. But I would say they are either overzealous about peace or have no eye for history. The Lankan Tamil crisis is not a one that had started during the British Raj. The Tamil-Sinhalese conflict and fighting is centuries old.

If we take a look at the history of South India, every one of the three dominant Tamil emperors the Chera, Chola and Pandias have had their war with the Sinhalese kings and had conquered the island then called Eezham. The Sinhalese kings have also shown their prowess by defeating the weaker kings of the Tamil dynasties. This has been continuing for centuries. The current ethnic problem has its roots in the history. Literature plays a pivotal role in fueling the fight. Sinhalese literature praises and lifts high of the Sinhalese king by showing the Tamils in dim light for the goods they've done and in bad light overall. The Tamil literature also boast that the Sinhalese kings lamenting about their ill-fate at the victory of Tamil kings over them, and shows the Sinhalese kings as born tyrants.

It is literature that gets more into the minds of the people than recorded history. Literature makes or breaks social harmony in such cases. But humans, with their emotionally charged mindset and fancy for fantasy, always prefer literature and it's mostly distorted visual form cinema. With exaggeration being the baseline of literature and cinema, the facts get distorted and human mind takes history as a reason to fight with others.

The present Lankan turmoil was due to the Sinhala only stance adopted by the Government of SriLanka. Instead of getting diplomatic pressure to deal with the potential ethnic cleansing, the Govt of India and the people of Tamil Nadu took the emotional path to deal with the issue, which made strategic thinking impossible. One man thought with a military mindset and he was left at the top with none to guide and mentor. He was Prabakaran and he gradually took course to eliminating other Eezham freedom fighters to hog the whole limelight. Had he been mentored properly, he would today have become the commander in chief of the Armed forces of Tamil Eezham with some political leader being the head of the nation state.

His unfettered desire with mentor-less thought process, lead to the separation of his own men from him, with which he lost trusted commanders like Mathaiya, Karuna etc. They were the people who translated the goal into military strategy into war tactics which lead to their invincibility for 30 years.
Also he earned the wrath of the people of India and the world with the killings of Amirthalingam, Padmanabha, Rajiv Gandhi, Neelan thiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadhirgamar and the level headed likes. His self-centric attitude brought to an end his life (suspicions surround this claim) and his organization, till someone else takes it up again.

The problem with the people of Eezham is that they don't like LTTE, but the TINA factor worked in LTTE's favor, as the people liked to hate the Srilankan armed forces. Military victory over the LTTE of the SL Army would not solve the Eezham crisis as it is an ethnic problem not a national problem. Both parties involved try to get the issue resolved in their terms. Negotiations have failed. Now that the remaining leaders of the Tamil political parties need to take up the initiative to take the cause forward, for which great men like Amirthalingam were killed.

Prabakaran's LTTE is history. But history teaches us not to trust the Lankan Government. So, the trained cadre of the LTTE shall be kept intact to get an edge in the negotiating table, since without an edge in the negotiating table, Tamils would be again put to trouble. We don't want another Black July and another Prabakaran's LTTE.

Eezham people want peace and tranquil life. It is the duty of Tamils worldwide to diplomatically pressurize the concerned Governments to get this done.

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