Sunday, September 01, 2013

Not So Murky LTTE-Maoist Links

Pushpa Kamal Dahal, almost out of the blue last week, volunteered that his Maoist party had established links with Sri Lanka’s once-dreaded Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgents during the height of the ‘people’s war’ in Nepal.
Capable of shooting from all sides of his mouth, earning all-round scorn and derision, Dahal has also demonstrated a capacity for reaping some subsequent reward from the same supposed silliness. Thus, it is unwise to dismiss out of hand the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) chairman’s latest disclosure.
Now, Dahal didn’t elaborate on what kind of relationship his party had maintained with the LTTE. Was it training, logistics, weapons, cash, all or either of the above? Stressing that the LTTE was fighting for ethnic liberation and the Maoists had waged a ‘movement for national liberation’, Dahal indicated that the LTTE had also sought help from the Maoist side.
Although Dahal conceded that this was the first time he was revealing the existence of a relationship, reports of a nexus often made the rounds during our decade-long insurgency, especially after the fighting got particularly vicious. Still, they were more likely to be dismissed as desperate attempts by two tottering states to discredit the ‘heroic struggles’ of these respective peoples seeking total liberation.
There were tell-tale signs, nevertheless. At times, after heavy battlefield operations, Nepali soldiers would recover non-Nepali-looking dark and headless bodies purportedly belonging to the non-Aryan stock native to the southern South Asian land mass. The Maoists and the LTTE both used peace and war as part of a strategy to confound the state vis-à-vis their strengths and motives, while amassing a considerable war chest through coercion, extortion and a plethora of multiple dealings.
With the suppression of the LTTE and the mainstreaming of the Maoists, you would have expected Dahal to studiously avoid resurrecting any memory. Dahal’s comment become all the more intriguing considering his organization’s links with India’s Research and Analysis Wing spooks and the Norwegians, the main two external groups also involved in the evolution and growth of the LTTE.
This connection led some Nepali analysts to immediately wonder whether Dahal was attempting, ahead of our elections, simultaneously to woo RAW and assure the Norwegians that he still remains firmly behind ethnic federalism, something so palpably dear to the Oslo mediators’ hearts.
What Maila Baje found particularly revealing was the seeming contradiction inherent in Dahal’s praise of the LTTE as an ‘organization of the brave’ and his reminder that Chinese support eventually helped Colombo snuff out the insurgents.
Dahal, at this point, is probably not troubled by the apparent provocation of a fellow member state of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation through his gratuitous glorification of the rebels. His remembrance – almost lament – that Chinese support ultimately helped to crush the LTTE probably wouldn’t anger Beijing. In fact, the Chinese communists might even be tempted to take pride in their sparkling credentials as master insurgents as well as counterinsurgents.
But maybe Dahal had another purpose in resurrecting the past. Did our Maoists’ use their proximity to the LTTE to funnel intelligence to the Chinese that aided Beijing in assisting Colombo to ultimately suppress the rebellion?