TN leaders knew Prabhakaran would kill them to rule Eelam, says Shivshankar Menon
Posted on December 13th, 2016

By PK Balachandran Courtesy The New Indian Express

COLOMBO: Leaders of Tamil Nadu, across the political divide, privately but effectively supported the Indian government’s policy of opposing efforts by the US and Norway to rescue Velupillai Prabhakaran so that his Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) lived to fight another day, says Shivshankar Menon, India’s former National Security Adviser (NSA) in his book; Choices: Inside the Making of India’s  Foreign Policy”.

Political leaders across the political divide in Tamil Nadu knew that the only way Prabhakaran could lead Tamil Eelam would be to physically eliminate the real leaders of the Tamils who were in India, just as he had already done to other Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka,” Menon says in the chapter entitled ‘Force Works.’

Despite differences in public posture on the issue in Tamil Nadu and Delhi, there was cross party private understanding on the basics of the policy toward Sri Lanka with both the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party and the All India Anna Dravida Kazhagam Party (AIADMK) party, as a result of considerable hard work by Pranab Mukherjee (the then Foreign Minister) and Narayanan (the then NSA), as I found when I met alone with very senior Tamil Nadu politicians in Chennai, away from the glare of publicity,” Menon recalls.

Ironically, by murdering Rajiv Gandhi, the LTTE had caused a shift in broader Indian attitudes, which came to be more in line with those of the Sri Lankan government,” he says.

According to Menon, India’s policy options were limited. New Delhi was aware that a victorious Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa would be less dependent on India and therefore less responsive. Rajapaksa not only had a firm grip on the levers of power, including the military, but also the backing of China, Pakistan and to an extent, the United States.”

As regards the US he makes the interesting observation that the United States was willing to help him (Rajapaksa) in practice with intelligence and military training, but was constrained to express human rights concerns, without letting them to rise to the level of affecting his conduct of the war against terrorism.”

On the issues before India, Menon says: If India had stood aside and asked him (Rajapaksa) to desist, in effect, defending the killers of an Indian Prime Minister, we would have effectively written ourselves out of Sri Lanka for the next decade or more, sacrificing our maritime and other interests in Sri Lanka and abdicating a geopolitically strategic neighbor to other powers. We could hardly abandon Sri Lanka to potentially hostile influences. In effect, Sri Lanka is an aircraft carrier parked fourteen miles off the Indian coast.”

Knowing that victory was round the corner, Rajapaksa was in no mood to agree to Western ceasefire proposals or to any idea that the LTTE leadership might be evacuated to safety, even if that was the only certain way to prevent casualties among civilians that the  LTTE had driven onto to the peninsula as their hostages and human shields, Menon notes.

But Rajapaksa’s obduracy was matched by Prabkaran’s whose thoughts and plans were increasingly remote from reality. He had either sidelined or killed people who could have advised him better. Prabhakaran’s obduracy resulted in the complete elimination of the LTTE’s military machine and its leadership, including himself and his family.

The way the Sri Lankans fought the war, though criticized for its brutality in the final stages, might have taken a higher toll if delay and stalemate were brought about, Menon feels in his assessment of the war.

It is arguable that some brutality was inevitable in a war of this kind against a violent terrorist group that had shown no qualms about terrorizing its own people and physically eliminating all its potential adversaries, Tamil or Sinhala.”

Indeed, one must logically ask the question, would an earlier adoption of the more brutal methods of the last thirty months of the war have brought it to an earlier end and actually saved lives and minimized the war’s deleterious effects?. This is a recurrent problem in state craft. It is also the strongest justification for the use of atomic weapons to end World War II.”

The strategist Edward Luttwak argues that there are situations in which one should give war a chance. Was Sri Lanka one of them, where peace building efforts and international mediation only prolonged and worsened the agony?,” Menon asks and concludes by saying: These are difficult counterfactuals that go against the grain of liberal thinking, but they do seem appropriate to the Sri Lankan case.”

4 Responses to “TN leaders knew Prabhakaran would kill them to rule Eelam, says Shivshankar Menon”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    India’s immediate act – post Nanthikadal!

    Of course once the job of eliminating Prabhakaran was done and finished with at great cost of life and limb to the Sri Lankan armed forces, Indians immediately shifted gears to bring about to cause a rift between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the then Commander-in-Chief. They got behind the ears of Mahinda Rajapakse to say that the Armed Forces are two powerful and can be a threat to his Presidency.

    That was how the rot set in immediately after the end of war on 19 May 2009.

    General Sarath Fonseka for all his idiotic ways was right when he said that the strength of the Armed Forces should be increased for consolidating the victory at Nanthikadal. Winning battles is one thing – consolidating the victory and maintaining the Peace is entirely another and a much larger and difficult task.

    Sri Lanka suffered for more than 30 years from the terrorist threat. The so called “rehabilitating” the LTTE in a short span of less than two years was one idiotic act of Mahinda Rajapakse – just for gaining browny points with the ever traitorous and Sri Lanka hating Indians. He gravely compromised the future security of Sri Lanka by this idiotic act and to boot lost his presidency due to bone headed similar actions.

    Sri Lanka’s future depends on a strong military backed up administration in Sri Lanka for the threat of Tamil Racist Terrorism and now the Jihadist threat is looming large in the horizon. A strong Sri Lanka will gain respect – A weak Sri Lanka will become a ‘doormat’ – that is the difference.

  2. Kumari Says:

    Ungrateful Indians and our Tamils must be ever so thankful to our Armed forces and the Commander in Chief. Prabhakaran would have eliminated the whole lot.

    Time and time again Indians have proved that they cannot be trusted. Since Yahapalanaya is also made in India and delivered to Sri Lanka, they too cannot be trusted.

    Any future government should take all precautions to steer clear of Indian influence. Once you identify the enemy, it would be easy.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Ratnapala is correct, the military strength of the armed forces should be increased much more, not decreased.

    During the war years, I advocated a million man army for Sri Lanka, that is operations ready, armed with the latest weapons, and ready to fight on a week’s notice. I also advocated parralel increases in the strength and capabilities of the Navy, the Air Force and the intelligence services, and the stockpiling of weapons and ammunition in secret underground locations.

    I also addressed how the cost of such a large defense establishment could be sustained. That can be done by deploying the armed forces in the development of the nation’s infrastructure, in manufacturing of weapons for export, in building ships and aircraft,& in the training of merchant mariners, in the training of civilian pilots and aircraft maintenance personnel, and even undertaking the maintenance of ships and aircraft of the armed for es of other nations in facilities developed for that purpose in Sri Lanka. They could also lead the way in the deployment of renewable energy in Sri Lanka and he transformation of Sri Lanka into a nation self-sufficient in energy.

    Gonseka also espoused a large army, but his motives are suspect in the light of his later actions attempting to grab power by means fair and foul, even to the extent of accusing the GOSL of war-crimes in the white-flag affair. Gonseka spoiled the opportunity for Sri Lanka to develop formidable armed forces that would give pause to even a large neighborhood bully like India.

    Nevertheless, once a patritic Govt is restored to Sri Lanka, we must develop a powerful self-defense force like Israel has done, for India will ALWAYS VALUE TAMIL NADU HIGHER THAN Sri Lanka,and therefore will always be an EXISTENTIAL THREAT to the survival of Sri Lanka as a sovereign unitary nation pursuing it’s own independent path to prosperity in this rapidly changing world.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    Yes, Tamil Nadu leaders were well aware that they could not confront the LTTE and hope to live.

    In particular, the late defunct demagogue Jayaram Jayalalitha was under a death threat issued against her by the LTTE.

    She went into HIDING because the then Chief Minister, her arch-rival KARUNANIDHI, would not grant her state security and did not emerge until the MR/UPFA GOSL utterly crushed the LTTE and killed its SunGod Prabhakaran!

    The craven demagogue she is, as soon as she seized power later, she became a vociferous supporter of the LTTE and the “Sri Lankan Tamil Cause” because that was a no-cost sure-fire way for her to win the support of the Tamil Racists!

    She completely ignored the INCONGRUITY of her new position with her past opposition to the LTTE because that was her rival Karunanidhi’s pet cause!

    Jayalalitha, was a HYPORITE, a demagogue and one of the most CORRUPT & SELF-ENRICHING POLITICIANS of India, a land Shere corruption is ENDEMIC!

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