The complicated relations of India and the Sri Lankan Tamils:The Big Brother will swallow you up

Tamils in Sri Lanka are estimated to be around 3.8 million. India lies few miles from the North coast of the island; in Tamil Nadu ( ‘The Tamil State’) there are more than 60 million Tamil. The linkages between the two are organic:not only historical and cultural relationships are very strong and close, but also many have relatives on both side of the Palk Strait. Outside India, the Tamils are looking at the Motherland as a benevolent giant, protector and guarantor of their rights.

In Tamil Nadu the empathy with the destiny of their fellow people is enormous, but it is not representative of the general attitude from New Delhi.
The aspirations of the struggle before and of bringing justice after the IV Eelam war are entrusted in the India by many Tamil commentators, advisors and lay people.

Leader of Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Mammon Singh, Indian Prime Minister
courtesy AP

This is probably not a very realistic and pragmatic perspective. In fact, though the Sri Lankan leaders are the material executioners of the repressive actions, nothing can happen beyond the Strait, that it is not blessed by New Delhi.

First of all, any Western intervention must be approved by India: USA, UN or Europe can’t allow themselves to interfere in the Indian Ocean without its consent. Lack of international activity in the IV Eelam War was primarily requested by India, perfectly in tune with Beijing this time, in the policy of not intervention in domestic affairs.
Second, a Sri Lankan offensive against the will of New Delhi would be simply impossible, politically and militarily. An embargo by India would strangle Sri Lanka; a deployment of Indian forces would end the game immediately.
Instead New Delhi gave full support to the Sri Lankan actions. It provided intelligence, satellite cover, cut off supplies line for the LTTE. And it granted back up on the international scene.

Leader of Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Sri Lanka’s President Rajapaksa
courtesy Forbes

In other words, India surrounded the LTTE as much as the Sri Lankan government.

The general assumption in the Tamil perspective is that New Delhi was forced to close an eye by fear of losing Colombo to the Chinese, with the partial consolation of a personal vengeance for the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. On the contrary India behaved as its interests were perfectly aligned with Chinese and Sri Lankan ones.

New Delhi wanted what happened not less than Colombo and probably more than Beijing.

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