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This is my Nation


 As they sow, so shall they reap?  

What must concern us is whether Tamil militancy will supplant itself in western countries, in much the same manner. It is not a possibility that could be easily dismissed as improbable. Certainly, all the right ingredients are there: a militancy that has been cut short in the home country, relative affluence in the countries that they reside in and ideological aspirations that are, as yet, largely unfulfilled. It may seem the ultimate irony, but soon, Sri Lankans who fled the country because of terrorism here, may find themselves the targets of Tamil terrorism in their adopted nations

Terrorism sponsored by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the scourge that haunted Sri Lanka for the past 30 years, has, overnight, become a threat to the West, and it is a development that brings a new dimension to the Sri Lankan ethnic issue.
At the height of the war with the Tigers in mid-May, there was unprecedented pressure on the government in Colombo, to let go of the stranglehold they had on the LTTE. Special envoys from many influential western nations were hopping the next flight to Katunayake, and queuing up to meet President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to try and convince him to call off the military offensive.
These visits were not without reason- and also, not entirely because these countries were sincerely concerned of the plight of civilians caught up in the final conflict in Mullativu.

Most of these countries had substantial Tamil populations, which successfully lobbied their respective governments, to try and coerce Colombo into granting the Tigers yet another reprieve. Their efforts failed, but as these countries are learning now, their efforts may boomerang on them.

No one disputes that the civilians engulfed in the throes of the final battle were unfortunate, and even the Government of Sri Lanka concedes that, there may have been some civilians casualties- although not on the scale claimed by some western media organisations. But, at the same time, the governments that attempted to speak ostensibly on their behalf, also ignored another fact: the LTTE was not only a terrorist group, they also were a well organised criminal outfit.

It is no secret that, the Tigers drew a substantial portion of their revenue from criminal activities; arms smuggling, narcotics and organised extortion were some of the significant income generation avenues for the LTTE. Most of these rackets were carried out outside Sri Lanka’s shores.

With the decimation of the LTTE’s top leadership, it is not just yet entirely clear as to what would become of this vast business empire. There are reports that, the organisation’s self appointed successor to Velupillai Prabhakaran, Kumaran (Selvarasa) Pathmanathan alias KP, would take over the mantle, being as he is the point man for the Tigers’ ‘international relations’.

But then, it is not as if KP will be allowed a free rein as undisputed leader. On the one hand, there is an Interpol manhunt for him, and the Sri Lankan authorities have made no secret of the fact that, they are soliciting the cooperation of other governments, to launch a search for this criminal, who they believe, has the potential to become a nuisance in the future.

Conversely, KP’s proclamation that he was the heir apparent to Prabhakaran, has prompted dissension in what remains of the Tigers as well. Many are disappointed that KP was quick to give credence to Prabhakaran’s death, and there are rivals eyeing the job as well.

What all this means is that, this phase of the LTTE’s demise will have to be played out, not in the jungles of Mullaitivu or, the beaches of the Jaffna peninsula, but in other capitals of the world. And that would be a perennial headache for the terror conscious Western world.

A hint of what might be expected has been witnessed already: many shops belonging to Sinhalese Sri Lankans have been damaged in several cities across the world, a student in Sydney, Australia, has been seriously injured and some Sri Lankan cricketers called off a visit to the English university city of Oxford, because of purported threats received from Tamils of Sri Lankan origin there.

Therefore, although terrorism in Sri Lanka may be dead, it is fast re-incarnating itself into a serious law and order problem in other countries. And this could well be only the beginning.

The West might as well be apprehensive. They know only too well the consequences of tolerating and fomenting organisations that are fronts for terrorist groups. Britain, for instance, had a long history of permitting the existence of such groups on its’ soil, only to find them turning increasingly militant and thereafter, unequivocally, terroristic in the post 9/11 period.

Today, this is a serious cause for concern in Britain, which had to bear the brunt of the July 7 bombing spree in London several years ago. Now of course, so-called ‘Islamic terrorism’, a misnomer if ever there was one, is a dirty word in Britain, and the law enforcement authorities there are trying their utmost, to clamp down on groups which are ideologically related to the Al-Qaeda, but all these efforts seem to be a trifle too late-the seeds of terrorism have been sown, and they seem to be growing fast too: most members of such groups are second generation Britishers, born and bred in the United Kingdom, and they seem to be more fanatical than their mentors!

What must concern us is whether Tamil militancy will supplant itself in these western countries, in much the same manner. It is not a possibility that could be easily dismissed as improbable. Certainly, all the right ingredients are there: a militancy that has been cut short in the home country, relative affluence in the countries that they reside in and ideological aspirations that are, as yet, largely unfulfilled.

It may seem the ultimate irony, but soon, Sri Lankans who fled the country because of terrorism here, may find themselves the targets of Tamil terrorism in their adopted nations.
That irony apart, these possibilities should alert the West that, they would only be doing themselves a favour by cooperating with Sri Lanka, instead of insisting on passing strictures on Colombo, and cooking up ghastly statistics. But, will they ever learn?

****