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'Eelam Won't Harm India'

A London-Based LTTE spokesman speaks to Outlook

'Eelam Won't Harm India'
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+0553

Even as it gains militarily, the LTTE isn’t willing to spell out its post-military agenda. While refusing to give a formal interview, a senior LTTE functionary in London spoke to Outlook about India’s role:

"The battle has reached a crucial stage. The Norwegian intervention has brought hope. This has also helped lend credibility to the LTTE. We’re hoping India will recognise the legitimacy of our struggle.

We see no harm in New Delhi’s stance that a solution to the crisis should be within the framework of Sri Lanka’s unity and sovereignty. As long as India doesn’t insist on the unitary nature of Sri Lanka’s constitution as the basic framework, anything is possible-a federal setup, a confederation or even something new.

Our political advisor Anton Balasingam recently met Norway’s foreign minister Thorbjorn Jagland, deputy minister Johansen and Erik Solhiem, special envoy to Sri Lanka. Norway is committed to its efforts to facilitate talks. They understand the depth and intensity of mutual distrust between the conflicting parties. They realise brokering peace in Sri Lanka is a difficult, challenging task that involves patience, time and delicate diplomacy.

We feel Norway’s shuttle diplomacy shall also include India. But we’d like to reiterate that the 1987 accord existed between the governments of India and Sri Lanka, the Tamils were not signatories. India must realise the struggle in north and east Sri Lanka has exacted an enormous price and anything that’s not a just settlement will render two-and-a-half decades of sacrifice meaningless and will be unacceptable to Tamils. The question of nomenclature can be worked out, but it must address the inalienable rights of the Tamils.

We also see a major, positive shift in India’s stand. Prime Minister Vajpayee has said India would mediate between the LTTE and Colombo. Earlier, New Delhi only reflected Colombo’s viewpoint. But we’re baffled at the suggestion that Eelam, if created, would undermine India’s sovereignty and integrity. Neither the LTTE nor any Indian Tamil has even the faintest dream of dividing India. It’s a myth created by people who don’t understand the ties between the Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. The political trajectory of the two are entirely different. Indian Tamils sympathise with our cause-they understand our plight better than people in Delhi because of linguistic and cultural ties. Policymakers in Delhi must also realise this difference."

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