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Friday, 20 July 2018
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The L.T.T.E.: India's Prodigal Son PDF Print E-mail
Against this background, if we view L.T.T.E.'s relationship with India, its somersaults and ultimate collision, a certain clarity emerges. The L.T.T.E.'s sense of greatness, and the feeling that they were the bearers of the torch of Tamil nationalism, made them feel that they had the moral right to leadership. This was enhanced by the fact that they believed they had sacrificed the most to build a basis for the armed struggle. This perception made them feel angry that India expected power sharing between groups and that India questioned their supremacy. Their anti-Indianism started on that score and had little to do with the interests of the Tamil people. Certain incidents throw light on the contradictory position of the L.T.T.E. vis-a-vis India.
In late June 1987, when Indian officials were ceremonially welcomed by the L.T.T.E. following the airdrop of 4 June and the aborted third phase of Operation Liberation, the L.T.T.E. handed over a memorandum asking the Indian government to recognize the L.T.T.E. as the sole representative of the Tamil people and Prabakaran as their leader. The Tiger controlled media went into euphoria stating that India would recognise only the biggest movement - namely the L.T.T.E.. When India dropped food parcels from the air, Tiger spokesmen, including Prabakaran, thanked India and expressed their appreciation of the action. How ironical it is that they are now asking the people not to receive any Indian food and are murdering individuals liaising between the I.P.K.F. and the people for basic amenities. When the Accord was in the offing, they denounced other movements as traitors for supporting the Accord. But later, when Prabhakaran was taken by helicopter on 24 July 1987 to talk about the Peace Accord by the Indian authorities, the same media again proclaimed a great victory and announced the recognition for the L.T.T.E. as the leading movement.

The somersaults in their political line prove that their anti-Indianism was not due to the realisation of the total potential of Indian thrust for dominance, but was rather due to the shallow individualised politics of supremacy of the movement and its leader. This was also an offshoot of their intolerance of other groups and opinions. To achieve this narrow end they could inspire their members’ blinkered dedication, to acts of extreme commitment. Thus Thileepan the Tiger went on a suicidal fast and the nation went on a bout of hysteria when the interim government was being planned. The propaganda line was that the fast was being held for five broad demands. Ironically another movement's, (E.R.O.S.'s) initiative on similar demands was obstructed by the Tigers.

The Tigers stopped the Jaffna University students participating in the march organised by E.R.O.S. and diverted two bus loads of people who were going for the E.R.O.S. march to Nallur, where Thileepan was fasting. It was quite apparent that these demands were only a front. What the L.T.T.E. wanted was a dominant role in the interim government with executive powers, together with the exclusion of other militant groups. These motives came out crystal clear when Thileepan died and India played up. The L.T.T.E. was given a dominant role and was the only militant group chosen to represent the Tamils. The L.T.T.E. proclaimed it as a great victory. These moves of the Indian government convinced the L.T.T.E. that India would pander to its wishes in order to put the Accord into practice.

With this perception of their indispensability for the success of the peace accord, and without an appreciation of even their own limitations and the defensive position of the Tamil nation, the L.T.T.E.'s subsequent political moves were totally estranged from reality. Their simplified thinking could not take into account other factors such as the South, and the political existence of the U.N.P. and J.R.. Nor could they allow for India's need to stabilize the southern government and J.R.'s leadership, India's need to neutralise the propaganda and politics against itself in the South, and last but not least, India's great-power psychology.

Reggie Siriwardene and Radhika Coomarasamy in their article bring forward a point of view on the evolution of the movements that possess such idealised doctrines:

"The mixture of idealism, a glorified sense of self and history and the messianic aspects contained in ethnic and religious identification is extremely conducive to fanaticism. Fanaticism has often been considered a situation where even though an individual's perception of reality is greatly at variance with the objective conditions, the emotional attachment to a set of beliefs propels him forward. Each setback instead of forcing re-evaluation of belief has an opposite effect and pushes the individual forward to martyrdom. Fanatic movements then lose all capacity to compromise, accommodate other points of view and refuse to adapt to changing conditions"

This presents lucidly the contemporary history of the Tigers. Thus it was not surprising that regardless of any future consequence, they pushed India to the wall when they started butchering the Sinhalese civilians in a fit of petulant anger. Therefore, in reality it was not only India's failure as a guarantor, but also the L.T.T.E.'s failure as a leader that triggered off the war in this way.

The Tigers' history, their theoretical vacuum, lack of political creativity, intolerance and fanatical dedication will be the ultimate cause of their own break up. The legendary Tigers will go to their demise with their legends smeared with the blood and tears of victims of their own misdoings. A new Tiger will not emerge from their ashes. Only by breaking with this whole history and its dominant ideology, can a new liberating outlook be born.

"The Broken Palmyra"
Dr. Rajini Thiranagama

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