India appears to have ruled out any military intervention in the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka - despite the stunning gains made by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) against Sri Lankan forces.
But India is reluctant to get involved after its bitter experience following two previous attempts to intervene in Sri Lanka.
Public opinion in India is also against involvement, especially after the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber in 1991.
Speculation that India had been approached by the Sri Lankan Government for military assistance built up after a meeting between the Indian prime minister and the Sri Lankan foreign minister on Wednesday.
But for the moment, India has firmly rejected any suggestion it will intervene.
Earlier, a delegation of Buddhist monks had petitioned India's high commissioner in Colombo.
It is not India's responsibility to evacuate Sri Lankan soldiers
Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh
Sri Lanka's influential Buddhist clergy have historically opposed Indian military intervention, even threatening suicide if Indian troops landed on the island.
India paid a heavy price when its intervention in the 1980s went badly wrong.
In 1971, India helped put down a Marxist rebellion in Sri Lanka.
The next intervention took place in July 1987, when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi sent in the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to disarm the Tigers.
Troops sent in to quell rebellion
Rajiv Gandhi sends in IPKF
More than a 1,000 die
Rajiv Gandhi assassinated
But they ended up being drawn into the conflict, when the rebels refused to lay down their arms.
More than 1,000 soldiers died and India was forced into an embarrassing withdrawal, after being heavily criticised at home.
The memory has scarred Indian policy makers who fear a similar outcome if the country is drawn in again.
"The spillover was quite serious and even led to the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi," says political analyst Mahesh Rangarajan.
'No government can forget the Gandhi assassination'
His comments are echoed by former Indian foreign secretary, SK Singh, who said no government could forget the brutal killing in 1991.
The government also has to consider the sentiments of powerful Tamil parties, which make up the governing coalition in Delhi.
"If India does decide to help . . . and if some Tamil civilians are killed after that, those groups will be baying for the government's blood," says Mr Rangarajan.
India is home to over 55 million Tamils, who live in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow strait.
Vajpayee has an eye on domestic opinion
They share strong historical and cultural links with Sri Lanka's Tamil minority and even provided a base for the LTTE for a while.
At the same time, India cannot afford to stand by idly.
It is conscious of its image as a regional power and is lobbying to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
Diplomats and analysts say Delhi realises that if it stays away from the conflict, it could open the door to other countries to step in to what is, effectively, its backyard.
It represents a dilemma for the country's rulers and one that they have to approach with considerable caution.