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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam
- a response to Mr.Jha, India's High Commissioner in Colombo

March 1992

In an interview with a Sri Lankan newspaper, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, Mr Narendra Nath Jha, has urged the Sri Lankan people to look at federalism as a solution to the crisis in Sri Lanka.

And, not unnaturally, the Tamil Times gave the interview pride of place in its February issue. Mr.Jha said:

"The word ‘federal’ should not scare people away. Indians feel that federalism is not enough for India. They want it to be a looser federalism. One of the ways of resolving this conflict is by having a fresh and close look at the various federal structures".

Mr.Jha is a senior diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service, even senior to the present Indian Foreign Secretary Mr.M.Dixit and presumably Mr.Jha should know what he is talking about.

But if that which Mr.Jha now proclaims are truly his Government’s views, why did not New Delhi match these proclaimed views with its deeds and secure a federal constitution in the 1987 Accord? Why did it instead foist on the Tamil people the miserable 13th Amendment and an executive Governor appointed by a Sinhala President? Why did it foist on the Tamil people an Executive Governor who held office at the pleasure of the Sinhala President and who also controlled the financial resources of the Provincial Council? We may well ask Mr.Jha: Is that what you call ‘federalism’? Please do tell us. We are a reasonable people and we will listen to reason.

Mr.Jha knows, ofcourse, that the real question is whether India recognises that the Tamil people have the right to self determination. The real question is whether India recognises that the armed struggle of the Tamil people arose in response to a systematic and continuing oppression by a permanent Sinhala majority. The real question is whether India recognises that that armed struggle is therefore both just and lawful.

And, here we are not unmindful that the Indo Sri Lanka Accord which was signed by the late Mr.Rajiv Gandhi, recognised the Tamil militant movement as ‘combatants’ in an armed conflict and in this way, India has already recognised the legitimacy of the armed struggle.

Will Mr.Jha bow to reason and agree that today, the two parties to that armed conflict are the LTTE and Sri Lanka and that the only way forward is for the two parties to the conflict to talk to each other?

But , whilst the recent Canadian Human Rights Mission calls for talks between the LTTE and Sri Lanka, and the British High Com-missioner in Colombo suggests the same, the Government which Mr.Jha represents prefers to act as if the LTTE does not exist. What is worse, far from recognising the LTTE as the only force which has consistently and steadfastly struggled for the Tamil Eelam cause, New Delhi seeks to annihilate it. At the same time it seeks to nurture an ‘alternative leadership’ which will do its bidding.

New Delhi failed with Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam who was resoundingly rejected by the Tamil people at the Provincial Council polls in December 1988 - a poll which was held under the immediate ‘supervision’ of the Indian Army. New Delhi failed again with Mr.Varadarajah Perumal even though it sought to prop him up with the direct intervention of the Indian Army - an army which had come to Sri Lanka on a so called ‘peace keeping mission.’

But, as the recent visit of the TULF to Delhi shows, the Government which Mr.Jha represents continues to persevere in its search for Tamil quislings. It seems that Mr.Dixit seeks to achieve as Foreign Secretary that which he had failed to achieve as the ‘Viceregal’ High Commissioner in Colombo in 1987.

Mr. Jha will agree, will he not, that the bottom line is in the annexures to the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Accord? The bottom line is his Government’s concern to secure Indian hegemony in the region and secure that broadcasting facilities and naval facilities in Sri Lanka are not given to countries outside the region? That is why Mr. Jha and New Delhi (and Mr.Gamini Dissanyake) seek to keep the 1987 Accord alive and continue to peddle the line that the conflict can be settled within its frame.

Given all this, please forgive us, Mr.Jha, if we take the view that New Delhi’s current ‘talk’ of federalism is simply an attempt to ‘keep its oar’ in the conflict in the face of possible initiatives being taken towards ‘associative structures’ in certain Western countries.

Mr.Jha knows well enough, that the Sri Lanka constitution is an unitary constitution. He knows that the unitary provisions of the Sri Lanka constitution are entrenched. He knows that the Sri Lanka unitary constitution cannot be changed to a federal constitution without holding an island wide referendum - and that the Indo Sri Lanka Accord makes no provision for that. In any case, Mr.Jha also knows that given the belligerent Sinhala chauvinism which is deep rooted in the Sinhala body politic , a referendum has always been a non starter. What then is this ‘federalism’ that Mr.Jha is talking about - and how is to be achieved?

New Delhi’s track record shows that it regards the Eelam Tamils as an expendable commodity - expendable in the altar of its own self interest. The simple political reality is that New Delhi gave limited support to the Tamil militant movement before 1987 with the principal intent of destabilising Colombo and making Colombo move towards New Delhi. The Annexures to the 1987 Accord are proof enough of that intent.

But all the time that New Delhi gave this ‘limited’ support, it knew that young Tamils were giving their lives for Tamil Eelam. It knew that these young Tamils would not and did not give their lives merely to further New Delhi’s geo po-litical interests and so, it led these young Tamils to believe that their liberation struggle had New Delhi’s support - and that a ‘Bangaladesh’ was around the corner. Herein lay the hypocrisy and the dishonesty of New Delhi’s policy and actions.

New Delhi’s hands are stained with the blood of thousands of young Tamils who died for Tamil Eelam. Having secured its hegemony through the Annexures to the Accord, New Delhi then turned on the LTTE as it was the only Tamil militant movement which stood dedicated to the memory and the aspirations of the thousands who had given their lives in the Tamil Eelam national liberation struggle.

It is said that the wise learn by the experience of others but that fools fail to learn even by their own experience. Please do not take the Tamil people for fools, Mr.Jha. We as a people have suffered much. We are Tamils. We know that as Tamils, we are also Indians. But, please, Mr.Jha, please do not give us bull.

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