|LTTE's separate State ideology a threat to India - Army Chief|
The Indian Government would never influence Sri Lanka to restore the ceasefire and it would not listen to the political `jokers' of Tamil Nadu whose survival depends on the LTTE which killed one of the most respected Prime Ministers of India - Rajiv Gandhi, said Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka.
The Army Chief, whose tenure was extended by another year, said that the LTTE had caused much problems in Tamil Nadu and the LTTE's separate State ideology would cause damage to the sovereignty of India.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer Lt. General Sarath Fonseka said that the Security Forces had taken all efforts to maintain zero casualties in military offensives, but the corrupt politicians in Tamil Nadu who had been bribed by the LTTE make such false allegations.
"If the LTTE is wiped out, those political jokers like Nadumaran, Viko and whoever who is sympathising with the LTTE will most probably lose their income from the LTTE", he said.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: While the Security Forces are in the last lap of eliminating the Tigers, the LTTE through Tamil Nadu is influencing the Indian government to insist on a ceasefire in Sri Lanka. How do you see this?
A: I am confident that the Indian government is not interested in a ceasefire in Sri Lanka and they listed the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. They have already accepted Prabhakaran as a criminal and given him the death sentence. They cannot just look the other side when it comes to Tamil sentiments. That is why India is sending food and other relief to make sure that innocent Tamils are not suffering. That is their concern and Sri Lanka gives our fullest co-operation to ensure that innocent Tamils are not harmed. During the military operation to liberate the East, we have proved it very well. Today, the Security Forces have adopted the same strategy in the Wanni liberation. That is what India expects from us.
The Indian government has already expressed its view on the Sri Lankan issue and Prime Minister Singh has enough problems after the Mumbai terrorist attack. They are against the LTTE and nothing in favour of the LTTE would happen.
Q: The Mumbai terror attack has shattered the South Asian Region. How do you see this attack?
A: Terrorism is a problem everywhere as there are extremists. Most of the countries are suffering due to terrorism. Sri Lanka has been affected badly by terrorism mainly because we did not handle it properly in the past. Pakistan and India are facing the problem of terrorism today. They cannot ignore the gravity and the Mumbai attack is a reminder that all the countries need to take steps to combat terrorism. It is better to be united to eradicate terrorism rather than trying to combat it alone. If we are supported by India we also could finish the LTTE faster than this. Likewise, India and Pakistan should help each other and understand their problems, Then these countries can solve the problem of terrorism easily. The terrorists are capitalising these issues between the countries.
Q: Despite the efforts to put down the LTTE aircraft, the LTTE air wing is still in operation. Do you think that the LTTE's air wing could be a threat to India?
A: It can definitely be a problem to Tamil Nadu. I do not think that these small aircraft will be able to do much in India. But the sea tigers can create lot of problems to India. They have killed enough Indian fishermen in the past and do smuggling like arms and drug trafficking and gun running. If you consider the overall thing, the LTTE's separate state ideology is a threat to India. Because this ideology will spread in Tamil Nadu too. It is now proved by Tamil Nadu by staging protests against the Indian government seeking help to take the side of the LTTE. There are people in Tamil Nadu who are sympathising with the separatist ideologies of the LTTE. That means this poses some danger to Tamil Nadu.
Q: What do you expect the LTTE will do once Kilinochchi completely falls to the Security Forces?
A: After capturing Kilinochchi, the Security Forces will definitely capture Mullaithivu. Then the only option that will be left for the LTTE is just to jump to the sea or to bite cyanide capsules. If they want to surrender still they have a chance. If they wait till the troops enter these two places there would not be any cadre to surrender as most of them will die during the offensives. The LTTE will not have any control by that time and the civilians will flee to our areas abandoning the LTTE. Now the LTTE cadres, who have realised their defeat, have started fleeing to liberated areas mingling with the civilians. Over 30 LTTE cadres have crossed to liberated areas with the civilians. Though the LTTE leader is still unaware of his fate, God knows it very well.
Q: One major allegation levelled against the government is that the security forces do not have concerns about civilians when attacking the LTTE. What are the steps taken to minimise civilian casualties in the military offensives?
A: These allegations are made only by the corrupt politicians in Tamil Nadu who have been bribed by the LTTE. Though they are very much aware that the civilians are not getting killed in any of these military operations they try to utter some words on behalf of the LTTE as their survival depends on the LTTE. If the LTTE is wiped out those political jokers like Nadumaran, Viko and whoever who sympathise with the LTTE will most probably lose their income from the LTTE. If they are genuinely worried about the assassination of their own Prime Minister, will these politicians ever represent the LTTE, which has created enough problems in Tamil Nadu. They are well aware that most of the prominent Tamil leaders were killed by the LTTE. I think that if these Tamil Nadu politicians are genuine they should sympathise with the Tamils who are suffering under the grips of the LTTE but definitely not killers like LTTEers.
This is the time for them to realise the truth. And they should also realise their attempts to save the LTTE would not be successful as the LTTE is on the brink of extinction. Most importantly, they should realise that LTTE is an internal problem of Sri Lanka and need to honour the soverinigty of Sri Lanka.
Q: How do you see Prabhakaran's Mahaweeran Day speech, which asked India to help the outfit to become strong to realise its dream - a separate state?
A: I think it is like a dying dog barking. But his voice does not properly vibrates. Prabhakaran thinks that he has threatened but what I can see is he was pleading to the world to come and save him. However, he has admitted that the LTTE has never been attacked this way before in its history. It means that he has started feeling the defeat now. It is not a message just a plea to save his life before he breathes his last.
Q: Since the fall of Pooneryn plans are under way to open the A-32 highway.
Do you think there will be threats from the LTTE on this route?
A: No. I do not think so because they are now far away from the A-32. The LTTE has to come over 30 kms to enter the A-32. There are over 60 ten man teams operating in the jungles and it is not easy for the LTTE to infiltrate into Pooneryn. That is why no such incidents have been reported during the last two to three. Those who try to come in, will get killed.
Q: It's now one year since the fall of the East. What is your observation from the military point of view?
A: At the time we captured the East, over 3,000 LTTE cadres had died and up to now the LTTE has lost about 13,000. Out of the 12,000 terrorists killed by the Army, over 7,800 were killed only during this year.