In seeking to address the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka without in any way easing the situation on the ground for the beleaguered terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee found a practical way out of the political crisis arising from the decision of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MPs to resign their membership of Parliament. With the two countries reaching an agre ement on ensuring the protection of Indian fishermen entering Sri Lankan waters, and Sri Lanka promising to guard against civilian casualties in the war against the LTTE, Mr. Karunanidhi quite rightly shifted the focus from the issue of forcing a ceasefire in the war between the Sri Lankan armed forces and the LTTE to extending humanitarian aid to the Tamil civilian population affected by the conflict. That humanitarian aid was the right and proper response was quite clear to all except the most chauvinistic of the LTTE’s supporters in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the politics of some of the Tamil chauvinist fringe groups was directed towards collapsing the Tamil question in Sri Lanka into a pro-LTTE campaign, diverting the widespread sympathy in the State for the Sri Lankan Tamil population caught in the ethnic conflict to the cause of the terrorist organisation, which in itself has only minimal support.
Some of the political parties such as the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Pattali Makkal Katchi, and the Communist Party of India have allowed the mainstreaming of the fringe agenda of equating the difficulties posed by the current Sri Lankan military offensive for the LTTE with the sufferings of the civilians. In any case, the Sri Lankan government’s proposal to create a “humanitarian corridor” to enable civilians trapped in the conflict zones to leave should address some of the concerns voiced by political parties in Tamil Nadu. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has, in his interview with N. Ram published in The Hindu today, reiterated his commitment to avoiding harm to civilians and to ending their suffering in a short time. He has welcomed the offer of relief material from India and particularly from Tamil Nadu, and said his government will facilitate delivery and cooperate with the Government of India in addressing the humanitarian issue. With Mr. Karunanidhi leading the mobilisation of resources in the cause of the civilian Tamil population, the efforts in Tamil Nadu should be directed towards easing the humanitarian crisis and not bailing out the LTTE. After all, as Mr. Mukherjee pointed out, India could not have restored a ceasefire that it had neither put in place nor broken.
6 months ago