For the first time in recent years, the United Nations is showing some signs of its intention to act against Sri Lanka, which has so far managed to go scot-free with its rampant human rights violations during the war with Tamil militants in 2008-2009.
A report submitted by an expert panel appointed by the UN's Secretary General has enough material to prosecute President Mahinda Rajapakse on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But in Tamil Nadu, political parties are making fools of themselves by taking up the issue in the streets of Chennai, whereas they should have led delegations to New Delhi and met with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
Sri Lanka's war crimes: Will India take a stance?
It is high time the parties realise that an international issue cannot be settled by holding up the traffic in Mount Road (in Chennai) or by burning Rajapakse's effigies in Saidapet.
They issue statements which are not worth the paper they are written on, but still everyone plays the game, including the media which faithfully publishes their statements.
If only the demands of our political leaders had the smallest value, Rajapakse would have been tried several times by now. But the Sri Lankan President continues to remain such a close pal of Manmohan Singh that the two leaders even decided to watch the World Cup Cricket finals together.
India to engage with Sri Lanka on UN report
The Government of India has not given a damn to the protests and accusations that political parties in Tamil Nadu have made against Rajapakse.
For the parties, Sri Lanka related protests have become a ritual, and of late, they are holding it every time the Lankan navy kills Tamil Nadu fishermen. The statements they issue are shams, meant for the consumption of the gullible public and some sections of their followers.
Examine the demands of the two major Dravidian parties in the wake of the UN Report. Both AIADMK leader J Jayalalithaa and DMK chief M Karunanidhi have reacted to the Report. Both demand action against Rajapakse. Both want him tried for war crimes.
UN rejects Sri Lanka's demand to hold war crimes report
For the DMK and the AIADMK, the issue ends there. Nobody can blame them later that they have not done anything for the Sri Lankan Tamils. They can pull out the various statements they have issued on the subject, with date, from the year that you may specify to them.
The other parties are no better. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol Thirumavalavan made a sensible demand by urging the Indian government to convene a special session of Parliament to discuss the UN Report. But after that there has been no follow-up action, not even a visit to Delhi, to try and meet the Prime Minister and make a representation to him.
While Russia and China have backed Rajapakse by rejecting the UN Report, India is yet to spell out its stand. In a recent statement, the Indian ministry of external affairs had observed: "the issues raised in the Report need to be studied carefully."
So, what does the UN report say? The report states that tens of thousands of lives were lost in the final days of the war, and indicts the Sri Lankan government for the way it conducted the war.
An important paragraph that would strengthen charges of genocidal intent of the Sri Lankan government, reads thus: "Most civilian casualties in the final phases of the war were caused by Government shelling. The Government systematically shelled hospitals on the frontlines...(and) deprived people in the conflict zone of humanitarian aid in the form of food and medical supplies, particularly surgical supplies, adding to their suffering. To this end, it purposefully underestimated the number of civilians who remained in the conflict zone."
Unless the political parties of Tamil Nadu shift their focus to New Delhi, and build up public opinion and mobilise support of other parties outside Tamil Nadu on the findings of the UN Report, the Government of India is likely to continue its pro-Rajapakse policy.