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Rajpakshe, the War Criminal

M C Raj

Prabhakaran of LTTE was known to stun the world with his antics. The only damnation was that many of his antics took away lives of innocent people. No doubt, he fought for a cause and was well supported by his peers, friends and admirers. He was a leader of sorts. Even many of those who did not like his violent ways subscribed to the way he fought for the rights of the Tamil people till his last breath lasted in his body. Identity is a human right. Language is a strong cultural and political identity. None brought this to the fore in recent history so powerfully as the Dravidian Movement in Tamilnadu that built up a political party and ascended the throne of power repeatedly. It is a clear evidence of what language can do to a people.

In fact nationalism of many nations are constructed on the question of language. That is why India has proclaimed Hindi as the language of India, despite the fact that far too less people owe allegiance to an identity politics based on Hindi. The effort of India to ‘impose’ Hindi on the South brought about a radical transformation in the position of power for Congress. Prabhakaran was ready to forge a unity of his people on the question of language and many serious issues related to it.

Sri Lankan ruling class also was out in the open to oppress and decimate the Tamil people based on their ethnicity and linguistic identity. They forged a counter unity of Sinhala identity. It is only natural that emotional vibrations of the Aryans and Dravidians in India had their vibes with these identities. Whenever even a rational support or non-support was provided to either of these, it generated strong streams of sentiments of ‘hidden agenda’ based on identity politics.

Leave alone the fact that true to the Tamil tradition Prabhakaran was betrayed more by his friends and colleagues and less by his enemies. His downfall came only when his friends started betraying him and began to make tacit compromises of power with the ruling class of Sri Lanka. If there was a Judas in the mythical history of Jesus there were also many such in the battle-geared, highly disciplined, hero-worshipping Tamil outfit called LTTE.

All great leaders make such mistake that marks their ultimate downfall. There is no stereotyping of such mistakes. It may be women, wine, some secret deals, a personal weakness etc. There is that one sudden rush of blood that leads the leader to his/her waterloo. We saw it at our own doorstep when emergency was declared.

Being a total outsider I can only surmise on this one last decision that Prabhakaran made and that led to his ultimately brutal murder by Rajpakshe. It was his decision to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi. The ‘betrayals’ in New Delhi by the Rajiv Gandhi regime, the ‘excesses’ of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in LTTE territory could have greatly contributed to that penultimate decision to eliminate one of the noble sons of India. In the glory of achievement it was possible that the leader of one of the non-governmental fighting outfit drenched himself with personal sense of success that for a moment he lost his Organization’s strategy and future.

It was one of the biggest mistakes that Prabhakaran made as a fighter. He could not have won his battle simply by ‘terrorist’ strategies, he should have made a healthy mix of political strategy making it a military strategy. This was the different between him and Rajpakshe. Any loss of balance in this strategizing could lead one or other leader to their ultimate doom. It is sad that Prabhakaran and Rajiv had to become victims of such miscalculations, one seeking power and the other drenched with power.

The Tamils today are up in arms all over the world. But they are bereft of their true political capital, Eelam. It may be England, USA or anywhere else that they evolve their political strategy. Tamilians in Tamilandu claiming to be in support of the Tamils in Eelam only have made themselves laughing stocks. In fact Tamil leaders have only seen what best advantage they can reap out of the oozing blood from victim bodies of Eelam Tamils.

The only noble exception is the student movement in support of Tamils. Even this, I suspect, may die out once the question of UN resolution fizzles out. Tamilians can be so sentimental that they can very easily forget their ultimate goal if their conflicting emotions are aroused on the way. Otherwise, why would the Dravidian Movement become more Brahminic in Tamilnadu standing as one of the biggest champions of Brahminism?

All these however, do not add adequate legitimacy to the way UPA and India are handling the issue of Tamils in their neighboring State. This is because, however weak Tamilians may be in the perception of others, their unity can still lead to the emergence of a Pan Tamilian Nation in the world. One can never discount such a possibility, especially with the dilution of the borders of the postmodern Nation State. The power of Tamil sentimentalism cannot be easily dispensed with either.

Priyanka’s visit to Nalini in jail was a landmark that is generally not taken into serious account. One can easily understand the anger and remorse in the ruling trinity of India, namely, Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul. Their anger is legitimate, quite legitimate. However political a family may be, a father is the ultimate to his children and a husband is crucial to his wife. Plucking him away from their lives for political reasons can never take away the human dimension in their lives. They deserve all support on this count.

Nalini was vulnerable, having a husband in jail and a child with her. A bird in a cage tries to flies out as the first thing as soon as a little opening is made without thinking of survival in the larger world. Nalini simply did that. Priyanka, as a woman knew this very well. Two and two made four. Armed with unassailable information on the strategies that went into the killing of Rajiv, it must have become much easier to take a ‘right’ decision by different power centers in both countries.

Perhaps what Prabhakaran did not realize was that he was only a mean power in the face of a combined assault by the Sri Lankan army tacitly supported by India. UPA, especially Congress cannot be faulted for occasional hardstand that they take vis-à-vis the Tamil issue. After all they also loved their leader. After all they also have a political future to cling on to. Is the issue of Tamil rights so sacrosanct in the political governance of India? Perhaps Tamilians have a responsibility to remind the Government of India of their indispensability.

The cold blooded murder of Balakrishnan, the son of Prabhakaran calls for universal condemnation of the Sri Lankan Government, army and especially of Rajpakshe. Behind that child murder is also the murder of his mother whom no one takes notice of. That he is a war criminal should not be left to sheer imagination and political legitimization. Balakrishnan’s murder is only the tip of the iceberg. If a child can be assassinated only for being a child, it chills out the human nerves the rest of humanity. Beneath the tip of the iceberg lies a big heap of dead bodies of Tamilians who were ready to give up anything in life for the sake of their Nationhood. There lies a mound of raped bodies of innocent women, with emaciated bodies of their parents and relative running around like possessed human beings seeking justice in a parched land where justice has become ‘Sinhalese’.

There is no point in reciting a litany of the cruel mindset of Rajpakshe who tries even to hoodwink the international community with his camouflaging rhetoric. At this level the identity politics of a people should is immaterial for India. It is not any more a Tamil or Sinhalese issue. Can violence have a color? Crime has to be dealt with as crime. Eelam Tamils are not any more in a position to be criminals. They have become the victims of criminals prowling around in Sri Lanka armed with discourses of the uprightness. It is not any more India that has to wear the mantle of human rights but the rest of the world. Can India absolve itself of its present responsibility just because of a bad past?

The present situation of Tamils has outgrown Prabhakaran, LTTE and Rajiv and is shrouded around the mind and body of Rajpakshe. If Prabhakran can be called a terrorist only because he did not have a legitimately elected government, Rajpakshe should be banished precisely because he is a terrorist who takes shelter under the garb of heading an elected government. A terrorist with State mechanism is much more dangerous to the rest of the world. India has the power to bring him to books. But does India have the will?