Can India now push for a political solution of the problem?
Rakhi Chakrabarty Delhi Hardnews
The mystery around LTTE chief Prabhakaran's death seems to be over. Soon after Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa addressed the Parliament and declared that the war against LTTE was over, the army made the announcement. Commander of Sri Lanka Army General Sarath Fonseka confirmed that the body of Prabhakaran, has indeed been found. The bullet-ridden body of was found lying on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon with the top of his skull blown off. The photographs beamed in television channels showed the body clad in camouflage fatigues and Prabhakaran's trademark moustache.
Earlier, in his address, however, Rajapaksa did not mention Prabhakaran while claiming "victory against the LTTE". A pro-LTTE website, TamilNet, put out a news claiming that the LTTE chief was "alive and safe". LTTE's International Relations head S Pathmanathan was quoted as saying: "I wish to inform the Global Tamil community distressed witnessing the final events of the war that our beloved leader Velupillai Prabhakaran is alive and safe."
That added to the confusion because already on May 18, the Sri Lankan army had claimed that Prabhakaran was dead even as they put out a list of 18 senior LTTE leaders who had been "positively identified" by the armed forces. The list included Charles Anthony, the eldest son of LTTE chief Prabhakaran, as well as Pottu Amman, head of LTTE's intelligence wing, B Nadesan, LTTE political head, and Ajanthi, who was in charge of training of LTTE's women's wing.
According to agency reports, the Sri Lankan army claimed that Prabhakaran and his top aides were trying to escape from the war-ravaged zone in a convoy of vans and an ambulance. But, they failed when they were gunned down by the army. Prabhakaran's killing marks the end of a gruesome chapter in the three-decade old civil war raging in Sri Lanka to carve out a separate state for the Tamils.
The question is now what? Will the Sri Lankan government mete out a treatment as behoves a victor over the vanquished? Or, will it accede to the longstanding demand of equality and devolution of powers to the Tamil minority.
President Rajapaksa has already reached out to the Tamil minority in his country saying their protection was his duty and responsibility. But, how much he will deliver in constitutional terms for the Tamils is a question as he would be keen to consolidate his support base among the Sinhalese.
With LTTE crushed, Tamils can now hope for a political solution in their quest for equal rights and dignity in the island nation. But, the Tamil community in Sri Lanka at present lacks a leader of stature, credibility or acceptability. Already, there are talks of a possible regrouping of the LTTE emerging out of the Tamil diaspora spread across the world, Hardnews learnt.
India, on its part, can now push for a political solution of the problem. But, with China and Pakistan already enjoying immense clout and confidence in Sri Lanka, it is to be seen if India can get Sri Lanka to go for a negotiated settlement of the issue.