It is more than 50 days since 12 Indian fishermen were abducted by the Sea Tigers the naval arm of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Unfortunately, there has been no word of condemnation yet from the Government of India or the Tamil Nadu government. Political parties in Tamil Nadu are the first to condemn the Sri Lankan government for killing, capturing, or intimidating fishermen from the State who cross the international maritime boundary line. The Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly has adopted several resolutions condemning the island nation's navy. But when the State's Director General of Police, D. Mukherjee, revealed that the Sea Tigers were directly involved in the firing on Indian fishermen that left five people dead on March 29, and that 12 missing Indian fishermen, including one from Kerala, have been detained by the LTTE from March 4, the reaction was muted. It was left to the Congress and the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam to highlight the issue in the Assembly. The pro-LTTE parties and groups have expectedly maintained a damning silence. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, who registered his shock, offered an assurance that the LTTE would be given no room in Tamil Nadu. As though these anti-India extremist acts were not enough, improvised LTTE aircraft bombed oil storage tanks and facilities in Colombo in the early hours of Sunday. The fuel depot of Ceylon Petroleum Storage Terminals Limited, a joint venture of the Indian Oil Corporation, the Government of Sri Lanka, and the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation, was targeted. Even this has not been condemned.

The time has come to remind the Congress-led government at the Centre that foreign policy, even when it involves Sri Lanka, must be made in New Delhi not in Chennai, and certainly not under the influence of pro-LTTE parties. It has become abundantly clear that the banned terrorist organisation, especially through the Sea Tigers and now a small air wing, has emerged as a security problem for India. The people of Tamil Nadu who decidedly do not want a return to the benighted experience of 1983-1991 expect both the Central and State governments to crack down on all groups and fringe elements that aid and abet, from Indian soil, the activities and cause of the LTTE. India must also equip its neighbour to deal defensively with threats to its vital installations. Without directly getting involved in the military effort in Sri Lanka, India must provide state-of-the-art radars and anti-aircraft guns to the Sri Lankan government to neutralise the threat from the LTTE air force. It is shocking that the LTTE, which took quite a beating in recent months from the Sri Lankan armed forces, has been able to deploy its light aircraft, concealed in the Vanni, on bombing raids thrice in recent weeks without coming under effective attack. In its own national interests, India needs to give up any ambivalence on what needs to be done and get serious about the LTTE threat.