India’s Sri Lanka dilemma

New Delhi remains caught between an insensitive Colombo and an angry Chennai. India’s classic dilemma on Sri Lanka is playing out again

The Tamil question in Sri Lanka has posed an almost intractable dilemma for Indian foreign policy for decades. During the three-decade long civil war between Colombo and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), New Delhi moved from covert support to Tamil militants in the early 1980s to sending a peacekeeping force in the late 1980s to taking a strong position against LTTE in the 1990s after it assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It finally, quietly, supported Mahinda Rajapaksa’s final offensive against LTTE in 2009 — quietly, because New Delhi did not want to alienate the Tamil street at home. But this support was based on the expectation that once it defeated terrorism, Sri Lanka would be more sensitive to both Tamil aspirations and India’s strategic interests

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