– By Shenali Waduge –
Just as we accept that India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner, that we remain grateful to King Ashoka for gifting us the benevolence and compassion associated with Buddhism. All that is true but that does not mean India should plan and train groups from Sri Lanka into militants to destabilize Sri Lanka. The training by former Indian military, the financial assistance given by the Indian Government, the logistics support given by Tamil Nadu to these militant groups makes India an accompli to murder for every act of terror committed by the LTTE over 3 decades. Prabakaran had only a handful of school/college drop outs and Anton Balasingham but it was India that trained them into professional killers. Ironically, the same men that India trained ended up killing Indian soldiers of the IPKF in Sri Lanka.
The civilians killed by IPKF are said to have been caught in “cross fires”. Whether the “civilians” said to have been killed by Sri Lankan army in the final stages of the war has to first determine whether they were actually “civilians” given that the LTTE claimed they were voluntarily helping build bunkers. Participating as combatants in an armed conflict when war has been declared by the enemy forces denies these “civilians” the status of civilian under IHL.
However, the innocent men, women, children and clergy who were outside war zones going about their daily lives and upon whom LTTE planted bombs inside buses, roadsides etc were real civilian victims. They were not inside any conflict zone. LTTE planned and executed their murder. Where is the justice for the thousands of lives lost over 3 decades. Why has the international community not cared for the human rights of these victims? Were their deaths not attributed to the training and supply of weapons provided to the LTTE initially by India? On what basis can the international community insist that Sri Lanka confines an investigation only to the last 3 months of the conflict totally ignoring the victims LTTE bombed to death. Sri Lanka’s constitution on the basis of equality for all (Article 12 (1)) cannot permit such an investigation. These LTTE victims deserve a voice for the brutality of their murders were seen by all.
The oft used excuse to cover India’s folly is that Rajiv Gandhi the former Indian Premier was killed by the LTTE. Prabakaran and Anton Balasingham even publicly requested India to “forgive and forget” the crime many years later. But Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in 1991. India did not take action against the LTTE. India’s Narasimha Raw Government even filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court seeking to restrain the Jain Commission from going into any aspect dealing with the role of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and to exclude the period from 1981 to June 1987 (this period covers India’s training of LTTE and other militants upto the signing of the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord in July 1987). Rao was the foreign minister during this period. The Rao Government even tried to wind up/minimize the Jain Commission’s role (10 Feb 1992 cabinet agenda had to be withdrawn following protests from members of the Cabinet including Arjun Singh). The Government went on to even back a private petition filed by Mushtaq Ahmed, pleading the Commission be wound up citing the same reasons as SLP but was rejected by the Delhi High Court on 16 Nov 1995. http://www.outlookindia.com/
LTTE freely used Tamil Nadu as its second home. We continue to wonder throughout 30 years how many living in Sri Lanka’s North are actually Sri Lankan citizens. The possibility that these are Tamil Nadu Tamils settled in Sri Lanka is nothing that can be overruled.
Let us look at some of the affidavits filed related to the Jain Commission Inquiry: Shri P. Nedumaran in his affidavit as follows :-
- Page-5:- “India decided to conduct negotiations for peace at Colombo while giving training and supply of arms to militant groups to step up armed struggle with the motive of giving military pressure on the Sri Lankan Government and force Jayewardene’s Government to bow down to diplomatic pressure.”
- Para-6 :- “It was at that juncture, the Late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi entrusted the full responsibility of Military training of the Tamil Militant youths, to the Research and Analysis wing (popularly known as RAW).
When RAW decided to provide the military training, two senior RAW officers Messrs. Samy and Ravi Menon contacted Mr.Chandrahasan, a Sri Lankan Tamil leader who was stationed in Tamil Nadu. He was informed of their plans and was entrusted with the responsibility of recommending the militant groups to the RAW, for training. During October, 1983, Chandrahasan met me and informed about those developments. It was he, who gave the first information on the military training by the RAW. In November, 1983, he again met me with a grievance on the refusal of LTTE to join the training programmes along with other groups. That was immediately conveyed to Mr. Prabhakaran who was then at Madras.
- Para-11 :- “It is submitted that I again wrote a Letter to Mr.P.V.Narsimha Rao on the LTTE movement and its leader Mr.Prabhakaran. At the request of Mr.Prabhakaran I sought for an appointment for Mr. Prabhakaran with him. ..Mr. Prabhakaran had a meeting with the Intelligence Bureau officials. After these efforts, a final decision was taken to extend military training directly to LTTE Cadres.
7.7 Shri K. Mohandas, in his affidavit no. 64/92-JCI has stated as follows :-
- Para 13 :- “….The issue had become very sensitive, and meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s advisors were working overtime, giving facilities to the militants, particularly the TELO (Tamil Ealam Liberation Organisation) to be trained in the use of modern arms in the camps organised in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, New Delhi and elsewhere. The idea was that after the training, they would be supplied with arms and sent to Northern Sri Lanka to engage the Sri Lankan troops in guerrilla action. It was supposed to be a top secret operation without even the knowledge of the State Government and its Intelligence agency. (at least as far as Tamil Nadu was concerned.”
7.8 Kasi Anandan, a Madras based Sri Lankan Tamil who is a member of the Central Committee of the LTTE was examined by the Commission on 10th and 11th September, 1996, In his deposition dated 10th September, 1996:
- “About 50 or 60 LTTE boys got training in the first batch at Dehra Dun. Two or three batches after that were also trained. I think this started during the Govt. of Smt. Indira Gandhi. The LTTE also got monetary assistance from the time of Smt. Indira Gandhi. I do not remember what type of assistance was given to LTTE during the time of Smt. Indira Gandhi.”
- “…..the first batch of training of the militants was done in 1983 under the Congress Government. I will not disclose the place where this training was held. It was done in Chakarata. Then in 1984, weapons were given to all the militant groups. The Camps were set up in Tamil Nadu. Monetary help was given. MGR in his statement in the Assembly of Tamil Nadu said that Rs.4 crores aid has been given by him to Tamil Militant Groups. The other information I will not give to the Commission, which I believe is sensitive. Then in 1982, there was a shoot-out in Pondy Bazaar in which a criminal case was filed against Shri Prabhakaran. In 1984, there was a bomb blast at Madras Airport in which 30 people were killed. At political level talks took place in Thimpu and Prabhakaran had come. After the meeting Shri Rajiv Gandhi in 1987. In 1986, the Govt. of India decided to send Central Ministers to bring about peace, among the various Tamil factions.”
7.10 Shri M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, in his affidavit no. 187/94 PAGE NO.2 PARA 4 :-
- “It is a well known fact that the LTTE and other Sri Lankan Militants camps were established in India ever since 1982 in tune with the policy of the Central Government at that time. The Tamil militants were given military training and allowed to have their own training camps in India.”
- 7.11 A first hand assessment of the camps being organised by the various Sri Lankan militant groups is found in the enclosure to a letter (DO C.11. No. 1634/M dated Feb. 8, 1986, referred to in details at page 111) written by Shri K. Mohan Das, the then Director General of Police (Intelligence), Tamil Nadu to the Chief Secretary, Tamil Nadu.
Anita Pratap, journalist, who deposed before the Commission has also spoken about the LTTE offices in Madras. Deposition dated August 17, 1996:-
- “LTTE had started the office, I think, in at the beginning of 1984. It was located at Besant Nagar, South Madras. There were several LTTE cadres operating the office. Lawrence Thilagar, Yogi and others. At any given time there were 5- 6 LTTE cadres operating the office. Periodically, there used to be some spokesman of the LTTE. In 1985, Balasingham had come. He was the official spokesman of the LTTE and he still is. He was in charge of propaganda as well as negotiating with Governmental authorities, R&AW and other Agencies. Till I remained in Madras, Lawrence Thilagar, Yogi and Balasingham remained official spokesmen of the LTTE.”
Shri Mohandas gives details of weapons and training camps for Sri Lanka’s militant groups.
- LTTE:- 6 camps were reported being conducted by the LTTE in the districts of Anna (1 camp), Thanjavur West (1 camp), Thanjavur East (1 camp), Salem (1 camp, Madurai (1 camp) and Ramnad ( 1 camp) of Tamil Nadu. The total strength of trainees in these camps was reported to be 495 cadres including 90 female Tigers. The camp at Sirumalai (Anna district) was the only camp were all the 90 female Tigers were getting training along with 40 male Tigers. The largest LTTE camp was located at Kumbarapatti in Salem district. The training comprised Arms Training, swimming, boat driving and physical training. The camps were equipped with transport facilities such as Jeeps, Vans, motor cycles etc.
- TELO:- Five camps organised by Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) were reported to be running in the districts of Ramnad ( 3 camps) and Salem ( 2 camps). There were totally 233 male cadres undergoing this training which comprised Physical Training, Arms training, swimming and boat driving.
- EROS:- Eelam Revolutionary Organisers (EROS) were reported to be conducting two camps in the districts of Ramnad and Pasumpon Muthuramalingam districts. There were 8 male trainees in these camps which were imparting Physical Training and Arms Training.
- EPRLF: The Eelam Peoples Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) was reported to be conducting 7 training camps in the districts of Thanjavur West (3 camps), South Arcot (2 camps), Trichy ( 1 camp) and Ramnad (1 camp) with a total strength of 73 male trainees who were being trained in Guerilla warfare, Physical Training and Arms training. These camps reportedly possessed sophisticated weapons such as Light Machine -guns as well as transport vehicles.
- PLOT:- The Peoples Liberation Organisation for Tamil Eelam (PLOT) was conducting training in 18 camps located in the districts of Thanjavur West (11 camps), Pudukottai ( 4 camps), Tirunelvei East (2 camps) and Thanjavur East (1 camp). Totally 2236 cadres in addition to 94 female cadres were getting trained in these camps. The camps possessed transport facilities, boats and some weapons. Predominantly, the training comprised guerrilla warfare and also Physical Training, Swimming and Boat Driving.
- Other assorted organisations were also conducting their camps in Tamil Nadu such as Tamil Eelam Army (TEA) – 2 camps, 31 trainees; TELA -Kanthan group ( 3 camps, 117 trainees); TELA-Rajan group (1 camp, 10 trainees); TENA (1 camp, 25 trainees); RELO ( 1 camp, 13 trainees; NLFT (1 camp, 2 trainees); ECRP (1 camp, 4 trainees) and TMPP ( 1 camp, 6 trainees).
As per the enclosure, the total number of trainees of various Sri Lankan Tamil militant organisations in their training camps being conducted in Tamil Nadu was 3179 males and 184 females, totally 3363 cadres. http://ibnlive.in.com/news/
On 17.03.1985, a PLOTE cadre was kidnapped by LTTE cadres from the PLOTE camp at Thirumangalakottai between Chinnamanur and Cumbum.
On 09.06.1984, Rajan and few others of TELO resorted to an indefinite fast near Gandhi statue in Madras, protesting against the opprobrious attitude of their leader Sri Sabaratnam.
On 23.04.1986, three LTTE cadres, who got down from a private bus at Madurai, quarreled with a porter and sprayed aerosol on his face, making him swoon.”
On May 10 1984 an American couple, Stanley and Mary Allens, were kidnapped about the same time as George Bush, a former CIA director and the then Vice President of the United States, was visiting New Delhi. Both were working on a development project in Jaffna, were abducted by militants belonging to the EPRLF. They were branded as CIA agents by the EPRLF. In order to release the Allens the EPRLF demanded Rs. 50 million in gold, to be paid to the Tamil Nadu Government, and the release of 20 EPRLF cadres.
The material available to tie India to directly contributing towards the terrorism that prevailed in Sri Lanka are many. Moreover, its own house if falling apart – http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Successive Indian Governments that claim to be interested in only the “integrity and dignity of the Tamil people” squashed all attempts to create a Tamil Homeland in India’s Tamil Nadu and slapped a constitutional amendment denying such. These are factors that often tend to get overlooked. The “ethnic” dimension to the conflict was also created by India because it would allow India to always interfere on the “Tamil” issue.
India, Tamil Diaspora, Tamil politicians in both India and Sri Lanka are all aware that there will never be a homeland given for Tamils in either Tamil Nadu or Sri Lanka. They take part in the calls for a “homeland” because it provides them plenty of means to profit and plenty of Governments/NGOs etc to plug along with the Eelaam call to push their agendas. So everything works to perfection.
Only a Presidential Commission of Inquiry set up by Sri Lanka will be able to unearth the truth and the roots to Sri Lanka’s conflict.
Unless we go back to where all the militancy started, who started and who helped we are purposely omitting a major component in the jigsaw puzzle and completely ignoring a period of history that is very important for the victims who have died because of LTTE and because India trained LTTE and other militant groups.
India must certainly owe an apology for all these deaths.