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THE HINDU CHARGES THE FASCIST TERRORISTS OF THE LTTE ARE SEEKING RESPECTABILITY DESPITE THE GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM

By Walter Jayawardhana reporting from Los Angeles

In a strongly worded leader editorial India's influential daily the Hindu said by proposing to have India as the host country for the LTTE- Sri Lanka peace talks the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a notoriously fascist terrorist organization was looking for arguably innovative ways to overcome its predicament and gain some respectability despite the ongoing global campaign against all forms of terrorism.

The editorial, entitled 'No Truck With the LTTE' said many countries independently had justifiably classified the Tamil Tigers over a period of time as a detestable purveyor of terror and this alone could explain the indications that the LTTE wanted India to provide an operational base for a purported exercise of talks.

Calling the terrorist group's attempt to secure a new foothold within India's territory was neither innocuous nor simply stupid the editorial said there was more to the LTTE's arrogant game plan than meets the eye. "Despite being internationally ostracized as a terrorist organization," said the editorial, "the LTTE seems inclined to believe that it can easily hoodwink the Vajpayee administration and gain legitimacy through some backstage subterfuge."

The Hindu said the first reason why India could have no truck with the LTTE was that the organization's supremo, Mr. Prabhakaran still remained at large as the accused mastermind behind the assassination of former Indian Prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi.

At a time when India was demanding a crack down by Pakistan against anti-India terrorist groups, the editorial said, New Delhi could not be expected to blot its copybook by white washing the LTTE's terrorist credentials.

"New Delhi may have encouraged Mr.(Ranil) Wickramasinghe to try and resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic crisis by engaging the LTTE if he so deems fit. But the LTTE wants India to become a party to Mr. Prabhakaran's invidious game of trying to exclude Sri Lanka's executive President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, from any such process," the editorial concluded.

The following is the full text of the editorial:

Opinion - Editorials -Hindu-January 09, 2002

No truck with the LTTE

THE STRENUOUS ATTEMPT by or on behalf of the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to secure a new foothold within India's territory for the ostensible purposes of a ``direct dialogue'' with Sri Lanka is neither innocuous nor simply stupid. By any standard of conventional diplomacy, utterly fanciful is the idea being peddled by the LTTE that it might seek India's hospitality as also its ``good offices'' for the organisation's own ``direct'' talks with the Sri Lankan authorities under the explicit auspices of Norway as the sole ``facilitator'' of such parleys. However, there is more to the LTTE's arrogant game plan than meets the eye. Despite being internationally ostracised as a terrorist organisation, the LTTE seems inclined to believe that it can easily hoodwink the Vajpayee administration and gain legitimacy through some backstage subterfuge. Now, the LTTE has launched its new trial balloons against the stormy winds that continue to foil it on the international stage. Independently, the U.S. as also the U.K. and Canada in the West besides India and Sri Lanka have justifiably classified the LTTE, over a period of time, as a detestable purveyor of terror. So, the notoriously fascist organisation is looking now for arguably innovative ways to overcome its predicament and gain some respectability inspite of the ongoing global `campaign' against all forms of terrorism. This alone can explain the indications that the LTTE wants India to provide an operational base for a purported exercise of exclusive talks between the representatives of the new Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the separatist outfit itself.

The LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabakaran, desires that his political lieutenant, Anton Balasingham, be allowed to camp in Chennai along with a team of replaceable aides and prepare for possible talks with the Sri Lankan Government. As reported, Mr. Balasingham will want to shuttle between Chennai and Mr. Prabakaran's Vanni headquarters in northern Sri Lanka for periodic consultations before and during any such talks. A closely related aspect of this blueprint, which betrays as much political absurdity as indeed audacity, is that India could also host the Colombo- LTTE talks as might be arranged by Norway. A patently ridiculous suggestion in this regard is that India itself could make its presence felt as a ``non-participant observer'' during such discussions. However, India should cold shoulder the LTTE as and when its laughable ideas of this kind are presented in all seriousness.

India can have no truck with the LTTE on three major counts. First, Mr. Prabakaran still remains at large as the accused mastermind behind the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. New Delhi cannot compromise on this issue of criminal justice. Second, if the LTTE appears emboldened to try and carve out a sanctuary inside India through the ruse of peaceful intentions, New Delhi must look for any concealed trap behind Mr. Prabakaran's calculations. The ominous timing of the LTTE's reported move for an overture to the Vajpayee administration should not be missed. It is indeed time that New Delhi prepared for a decisive take-off stage in its own diplomatic campaign to secure a comprehensive crackdown by Pakistan against some identified anti-India terrorist groups. As the Vajpayee administration demands that Pakistan extradite the leaders of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba, New Delhi cannot be expected to blot its copybook by whitewashing the LTTE's terrorist credentials. Not the least of the factors that India should reckon with is the one concerning Sri Lanka's internal dynamics. New Delhi may have encouraged Mr. Wickremesinghe to try and resolve Sri Lanka's ethnic crisis by engaging the LTTE if he so deems fit. But the LTTE wants India to become a party to Mr. Prabakaran's invidious game of trying to exclude Sri Lanka's executive President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, from any such process.

`No truck with LTTE'

Sir, - Your Editorial `No truck with the LTTE' (Jan. 9): may I say that it is ridiculous on the part of the LTTE to even suggest holding peace negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government in Chennai, especially when it (LTTE) has been banned in India. Its chief, Velupillai Prabakaran, is still an accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. India has been trying for his extradition for standing trial. Any sanctuary for the LTTE will encourage Tamil chauvinists who have been lying low recently though clamouring for an independent Tamil Nadu in their heart of hearts having misplaced sympathy for the LTTE just because of the link of Tamil language between them.

If the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE are interested in peace, they can always hold parleys in any country other than India, even in Norway. The proximity of the countries need not be the criterion. Any concession to one banned organisation will prove dangerous in the long run.

C. Lakshmi Narain, Chennai


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