Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa could be looking at LTTE 2.0 a few years down the line if he fails to implement political reforms to achieve ethnic reconciliation without any further loss of time.
This is the view of the Indian media in the wake of India’s decision to vote for the resolution last Thursday at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), demanding a thorough investigation into alleged war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan security forces and the LTTE in the civil war that ended in May 2009.
The Times of India’s senior foreign affairs correspondent Indrani Bagchi wrote in the daily’s Crest Edition today: “Rajapaksa’s feet should be held to the fire to push him to implement political reforms. Visitors to Sri Lanka these days complain that the country is moving closer to the style of Myanmar’s junta rather than Indian democracy. Its northern areas are even akin to a security state.”
“Yet, like with the Myanmar junta, India should use everything it has to push Colombo to take political steps. What Rajapaksa cannot see now, but what what we should show to him, is that a few years down the line, he could be looking at LTTE 2.0,” she cautioned.In its editorial, The Hindu said President Rajapaksa may not like the Geneva resolution, “but he has brought it upon himself.” The UNHRC resolution is proof that the international community disapproves “the manner in which the Rajapaksa government is addressing the fallout of its Armageddon moment of mid-May 2009.”
The resolution is the first sign that “the world will no more let itself be guided soley by Sri Lankan claims that it has the will to carry out its own probe. It also means that gentle prodding and quiet diplomacy will not be the main means the world will adopt towards the island nation.”
The highly respected newspaper went on: “Few would dispute that Sri Lanka took too long to acknowledge the allegations of extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances and delayed moves towards a political settlement indefinitely.”
India’s vote may have aroused consternation in Colombo, but it is crucial that its intentions not be misread. “There is no change in the Indian defence of unity and integrity of its southern neighbour, only a realisation that the tardy progress towards reconciliation could undermine the prospects for peace and stability there,” it added.
“For the first time in decades, New Delhi is in concord with popular sentiment in Tamil Nadu, but it would be wrong to look at its Geneva vote as merely the product of domestic political pressure.”
Over time, “the false assurances on devolution and implementation of ‘the 13th amendment and beyond’ it received from Colombo have frustrated South Block and forced it to reconsider its diplomatic options,” the newspaper wrote.
It said that, having voted for the resolution, “the onus is now on India to remain engaged with the Lankan authorities, as its interests lie in promoting reconciliation and supporting the quest of Sri Lankan Tamils for justice, equality and dignity…The solution has to be Lankan-led…India needs to brace for extraordinary diplomatic challenges ahead.”
The Asian Age points out that the LLRC has itself conceded in its report that the “root cause” of the ethnic conflict was the grievances of the Tamils. In spite of this, Colombo has remained evasive on the basic Tamil issues.
“For India, it is this that tipped the scales in favour of voting the way it did at UNHRC.” The daily dismissed GL Peiris’s claim that India voted for the resolution because of pressure from Tamil Nadu by calling it “an unhistorical reading of the situation.”
The daily said there was zero chance of the DMK withdrawing support to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s government if India did not vote for the resolution. And even if the DMK withdrew, the government would not have fallen.
The Hindustan Times quoted an Indian official as saying that, when India voted against Sri Lanka, “it took a calculated risk aimed at prodding the country towards moving faster on resolving Tamil issues.”
Commenting on the Indian vote for the resolution, strategic expert Brahma Chellaney said: “It allows us to pursue a policy based on self-interest and principle. It allows us to unfreeze our Sri Lanka policy because President Rajapaksa was playing India against China to keep the former in line. As a result, the Indian policy on Sri Lanka became frozen. Now, he finds himself in the company of China which, in a way, exposes him.”