Calls Increase for India to Become Involved in Resolving Sri Lanka's Conflict

Both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tiger separatists are making overtures toward India to help mediate their conflict. The Sri Lankan president and foreign minister have tried to persuade their Indian counterparts to get involved during visits to New Delhi. The Tamil Tigers (LTTE) have sought to mend fences with India, saying they regretted the 1991 assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi.

However, India has stayed clear of involvement after sending a peace enforcement force to Sri Lanka and losing about 1,200 soldiers to violence. The LTTE is legally banned in India, making it impossible for India to participate in peace negotiations with the group. And portions of the Indian policy establishment are opposed to such involvement even if the legal prohibition were to be removed.

But the conflict continues to have an impact on India. Several thousand new Sri Lankan Tamil refugees have crossed into India’s state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is home to more than 60 million ethnic Tamils and sentiments there are in solidarity with Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Anuj Chopra, “Sri Lanka Conflict Beckons India to Help,” Christian Science Monitor, 6 July 2006.