It is said when you raise a monster, you must deal with it’s consequences. The same can be said of India with regards to it’s Sri Lanka policy.
In the 80’s, disgruntled Tamils in Sri Lanka were organising themselves into an outfit, that would eventually challenge the Sinhalese supremacy.
The outfit had found logistical and moral funding from the Indian State, along with a safe haven for guerrila warfare training.
The Sri Lankan nemesis has now come back to haunt the Indian policy makers. It all started with the U.S. backed resolution against Sri Lanka at a U.N. Meet at Geneva.
The resolution criticised the atrocities against Sri Lankan tamils committed for a period of 26 years during the civil war in the country. It also “encouraged” the Sri Lankan authorities for better rehabilitation and social equity.
The proposed resolution was itself a watered down version of a more aggressive earlier draft, but it was a significant symbolic gesture.
India voted for the resolution at the meet but the general criticism was that the Indian representative had not particularly spoken for an “independent international probe”.
Listed below are some reasons that forced India to take an emasculated stand when it comes to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue :
* An Independent International probe would’ve revealed the dark history of the Indian Peace-keeping force in the later part of the 26 years of civil war. Gory details of how Tamils of Indian origin were hunted down by the force will surely not go down very well the Tamil electorate.
* Demanding an International probe would also give Sri Lanka and India’s other unfriendly neighbours a golden opportunity to bring a similiar resolution against India for the human rights violations committed in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir in peace time. Pakistan would take that any given day.
* With nuclear enabled neighbours Pakistan and China already hostile towards India, India pins hopes on Sri Lanka to maintain stability in the Indian sub-continent. The recent interest of China in funding of the Hambantota port, which could be used as a probable military base by the Chinese, is to be viewed with suspicion.
The proximity of the port would then render the whole of India susceptible to missile attacks, given the Chinese missiles’ ranges.
Under these circumstances, India’s soft policy towards Sri Lanka is unlikely to change in the coming years. It’ll be interesting to see how India handles the protests by Tamils back home. Politically speaking, the ruling coalition UPA has already been alienated from the political leadership of the Southern states, with the DMK pulling out and the AIADMK supremo bringing a resolution against the Indian Government, today in the State Assembly.
It will interesting to note the developments in the coming months because India’s foreign policy with regards to Sri Lanka is unlikely to change any time soon.