on LTTE: India
With Sri Lanka announcing a 48-hour pause in
hostilities, India on Friday said the onus was now on the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to allow the trapped
civilians to move to the designated safe zones.
“Our concern is to prevent the humanitarian situation from
getting worse. We are very happy there is a pause to allow
civilians out. Whether the LTTE allows that, we don’t know but
it puts the onus on them,” authoritative sources said here. The
civilians held hostage were enduring an “animal level survival”
and India’s priority was to get them quickly into a “normal
The understanding here is that about 1.5 lakh civilians are
caught in the conflict and the figure of four lakh is
With about 5,000 civilians having managed to get out of the
conflict zone, the focus now is on separating innocent civilians
from the LTTE fighters.
“Otherwise, with fighting in its closing stages, civilians are
likely to be killed.
“One side might say they were being used as human shields;
the other would claim they were killed by artillery barrages,”
In this respect, the sources referred to Thursday night’s
statement by Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon. He welcomed
Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s “important
announcement” about the pause in hostilities, and hoped that
with the implementation of these steps, the condition of the
civilians would improve.
Menon suggested the “safe zone” concept during his Colombo visit
earlier this month and the number of zones were expanded after
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s visit earlier this
The reading here is that the Sri Lanka Army is “steadily
grinding forward” and is “absolutely confident” of wrapping up
its operations in the next two to three weeks.
As for LTTE Chief V. Prabhakaran, Colombo believes that he is
still in the area as his “legend won’t allow him to leave.” The
talk in Colombo of Prabhakaran having left Sri Lanka “could be a
ploy to get him to stick his neck out,” the sources said.
“This is a lot to ask after 23 years of war and with most Tamil
political leaders killed. There are the questions of livelihood,
economic reconstruction, ports, roads, railways… it is a huge
job ahead. Then there is the issue of dealing with the young
soldiers who are likely to be demobilised,” these sources
“The society is not large enough for them to pass unnoticed. We
are seeing a phased change in Sri Lanka and this is an
opportunity for its government to do something proper in
devolution. India will be trying to work with the Sri Lankan
Government in all these aspects.” (The Hindu)