Former RAW chief protests India’s ‘ambivalence’ over LTTE

[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 October 2006, 11:41 GMT]
India’s former spy chief has criticised Delhi for not engaging with the both the Liberation Tigers and Sri Lanka’s government to prevent the slide into conflict. "India's inability to fully comprehend the ground realities in Sri Lanka and, hamstrung by the past, its reluctance to do business with LTTE to help evolve an equitable settlement may prove to be a monumental foreign policy blunder,” J.K. Sinha, former head of India’s external intelligence agency said.

“India’s ambivalence interspersed with gratuitous hostile statements towards the LTTE has closed its option to proactively bring about a settlement of the ethnic crisis through negotiations”

"India allowed the gradual erosion of the peace process and remained a virtual bystander," Singh, who headed the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) until last year, says in the latest issue of ‘Indian Defence Review.’

Singh was head of RAW in the past few years during which the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement has disintegrated in a cycle of violence first between Army-backed-paramilitaries and the LTTE and lately between the military and the Tigers.

"Instead of building on the positive developments at Oslo, India allowed its misgivings and suspicions with regard to the LTTE to stifle any follow-up policy initiative," Singh said, in reference to the LTTE’s agreement with the then Sri Lankan government to explore federalism as a solution.

“India was content to remain in the margins. [But] the resumption of civil war in Sri Lanka portends the worst for that country and for India's security concerns in the region,” he says.

"The gradual erosion of the peace process and the resumption of the conflict is a major setback for India and to its security concerns vis-ŕ-vis Sri Lanka."

Singh noted that “India cannot help the Sri Lankan government militarily to defeat the LTTE because of the sentiments in Tamil Nadu and the compelling political constraints that it entails.”

“[But] India’s ambivalence interspersed with gratuitous hostile statements towards the LTTE has closed its option to proactively bring about a settlement of the ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka through a process of negotiations,” he also says.

"India's ambivalence about the LTTE and its inability to pull its weight in Sri Lanka in favour of the peace process shall cost India dear. India is now caught between the devil and the deep sea,” Sinha warns.

Singh slammed the seizure by President Chandrika Kumaratunga of three ministries from the government of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in late 2003, just days after the LTTE submitted a proposal to set up an interim administration in Sri Lanka's northeast.

"India and the international community should have done all that was possible to prevent (Chandrika) from resorting to the politically dishonest and unconstitutional measure which really scuttled the peace process," Sinha said.

"[Meanwhile] It is indeed ironical that Colombo, which conspired with LTTE to force the return of the Indian Army (in 1990), now looks up to New Delhi to rein in LTTE and play a decisive role as the regional superpower to bring about a durable peace."


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