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`India must neutralise Sea Tigers'

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, DEC. 11. India should neutralise the Sea Tigers at the earliest opportunity, V. Suryanarayan, South Asian expert, said here today. It should not stop with assessing danger in its surroundings and should have the "political will to pursue courses of action that promote India's national interest," he added.

"A matter of serious concern for India is the emergence of the Sea Tigers as a credible third naval force in the southern part of South Asia. During recent months, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has demanded de facto naval status to the Sea Tigers... the Tigers have demanded control over the marine resource and the right of access and exploitation over them," he said. If Sri Lanka accepted the proposals, two-thirds of its coastline would be under LTTE control.

Prof. Suryanarayan, professor, Maritime Studies and Research, Calicut University, Kerala, said there were many incidents of LTTE-backed fishermen attacking Tamil Nadu fishermen who strayed into Sri Lankan waters. "An explosive situation is developing in the Palk Bay," he said, in his paper on the `peace process in Sri Lanka: an Indian perspective,' at a seminar organised by the Centre for Security Analysis (CSA) and the Hanns Sidel Foundation here.

Fishermen's problem

From a Tamil Nadu perspective, it was essential that a satisfactory solution be arrived at for the fishermen's problems. "One possible solution is to enable licensed Indian fishermen to fish in Sri Lankan waters up to five nautical miles; and, in return, licensed Sri Lankan fishermen could be allowed to fish in the Indian exclusive economic zone."

Swaran Singh, associate professor, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, said that with a long period of ceasefire and no negotiations, splits began to appear in the LTTE. Cadres were likely to get criminalised and kidnapping and extortions grew in the region as there was no hope of the political visions of the leaders becoming a reality.

Political tool

On how development aid was being used as a political tool in the areas of conflict, the CSA president, V.R. Raghavan, said the players had become savvier. Development aid added a whole new dynamic in the regions in conflict and the donors could no longer dictate terms there.

Nisha Arunatilake, research fellow, Institute of Policy Studies, Colombo, in her paper, calculated the direct and indirect costs of the war and said it affected not only output but also investments and hence lowered growth in the long-term.

R.K. Raghavan, former director, Central Bureau of Investigation, who chaired the session on `economic and military dimensions,' said the frank discussions opened up new vistas.

The subject was of great relevance to India in general and Tamil Nadu in particular. Not many had studied the economic situation in relation to the conflict and this new angle was highlighted.

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