Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Tamil Nadu Forced to Go the Eelam Way?

Parts I and II

by Natteri Adigal, Merinews, October 9 and 11, 2008

If Eelam Tamil issue has become so explosive, it is because the Colombo regime felt militarily powerful enough to impose a Unitary Sinhala-controlled system in place of a federal structure, denying human rights to Tamils.

Part I

In 1965, when Tamil Nadu faced the possibility of military action from a powerful New Delhi, Annadurai opted to abandon his demand for full autonomy to states under a lose confederation with one currency but multiple ethnic, cultural and national identity.

TAMIL NADU appears headed for revolutionary political changes in a culmination of a combination of events: For one, the two main Dravidian political outfits – Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), headed by three-time chief minister M Karunanidhi and All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), headed by former two-term CM Jayalalitha – are both reeling under overwhelming outrage among the Tamil population. Discontent brewing against the leaders is peaking due to a general perception that both have betrayed the Tamil cause. The recent brutal military action by the government of Sri Lanka against an assertive Tamil population there has brought about an explosive situation.

According to reports from Colombo, Sri Lankan forces are closing in on territory controlled by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). Kilinochi, current political capital of the rebels, could fall in the hands of government. But, it is highly unlikely that the struggle against oppression will end. If anything, Tamil Nadu is at the risk of turning into a battleground, like Pakistan’s northwest.

Interestingly, both the outfits that rule in TN alternately swear allegiance to the ideals of DMK propounded by founder CN Annadurai. His mission was to fight for real autonomy to the states under a true confederation at New Delhi. He recognised India as a sort of present day Europe with one currency but multiple cultural, ethnic, linguistic and national identities. (Incidentally, the concept is advocated today by several regional parties, including Maharashtra Navnirman Sena).

Annadurai was a highly educated, scholarly, strategic thinker unlike the current day bosses of these remnant DMKs. When faced with the possibility of military action by a powerful New Delhi in 1965, he opted to abandon his demand for the status. He expertly avoided the fate of Hyderabad or Goa against a formidable enemy or perhaps, the risk of a genocidal oppression, similar to the one going on since 1980s in Sri Lanka.

Since then, TN has always been ruled by either the DMK or AIADMK, with no power sharing with allies. Any coalition has been limited to electoral alliance for seat adjustments. Even the cadre and the leadership of the Communist parties in TN, Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India – Marxist (CPIM), subscribe to Annadurai’s vision of ’Self-rule in states, confederation at Centre’. The two main ‘national’ parties – Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – have only ceremonial presence. Their role is limited to investing the megabucks involved in electioneering of any one of the parties in return for seats.

Long periods in absolute power have inevitably led to a degree of autocracy and tyranny in both parties. Allegations fly thick about high level of corruption, amassing unaccounted wealth by cronies and infighting among senior leaders. ‘Kalaignar’ Karunanidhi and ‘Amma’ Jayalalitha are both known to indulge in undermining each other. They have done deals with whatever political outfit rules in New Delhi to get the other dismissed, harassed with raids and even jailed when out of power. This has prompted several leaders to break away to form own parties like Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK), Lakshiya Dravida Munnetra Kazaham (LDMK) etc – all swearing allegiance to ‘original’ DMK. The latest is the MDDMK, floated by the ‘fans’ of superstar, Rajnikant and it is sending a chill down the spine of opportunists.

The ground reality in Tamil Nadu is that almost every Tamil – belonging to whatever religion or strata – has a primary affinity to other Tamil-speaking people of whatever domicile or religion. This is somewhat true of the Malayalees (Keralites) whose identity transcends religion. The India they recognise as a collective identity includes the entire British India. The entity in New Delhi to them is more for administrative convenience and in no way above ethnic affinity and pride. Only a tiny minority -- mainly high-caste elite chosen by God to rule over serfs condemned to languish as pariahs even in next birth – believe in this age in the concept of paramountcy of the ‘sovereign’ – personified by ‘Bharat Mata’.

Even though Sri Lankan Tamils, who are solidly behind LTTE have the sympathies of the people, they have long been scapegoats of self-serving politics. Dravidian leaders, in their zeal to get on the right side of Delhi bosses, are seen to be conniving with New Delhi’s policy of aiding Sri Lankan government in exterminating Tamils. Moreover, in its futile geopolitical ambitions, New Delhi is seen siding with Sri Lankan forces, which have indiscriminately been capturing, torturing and killing TN fisherman in the sea.

Almost all the political parties in Tamil Nadu have come together in demanding immediate halt to New Delhi’s covert support to the genocidal war against ethnic Tamils. CPI organised a massive rally and fast on the birth anniversary of Gandhi and invited every other party to raise the voice of Tamils. The rally expressed solidarity with the fishermen as well Sri Lankan Tamils and called upon the Central government to pressurise Colombo to stop hostilities and respect international law. Sri Lanka had unilaterally scrapped a Norwegian brokered ceasefire with LTTE, in defiance of International Commission on Sri Lanka.

CPI national secretary D Raja alleged that Sri Lanka has become a rogue state by continuing military action against the Tamils on the island nation. Panruruti Ramachandran who was interlocutor in India-initiated Sri Lanka process during AIADMK founder MGR’s reign in 1980s was one of the main speakers. MDMK supremo Vaiko, TDI president P Nedumaran and Viduthalai Chiruththaikal (translating to Liberation Panthers) president Thol Thirumavalavan, who boldly and openly support the liberation struggle by LTTE were cheered by the huge crowd. Jayalalitha had assured of supporting the party, however, pulled out at the last moment, apparently after some horse trading with saffron allies. PMK strongman Dr Ramadas, father of Central health minister Anbumani, simultaneously urged TN chief minister to come out in the open and support the Sri Lankan Tamils. He said New Delhi must be forced to stop anti-Tamil policies.

Most of the leaders openly admire LTTE and its chief Prabhakaran for his courage and determination. New Delhi wants him extradited to India for being put to a sham Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) trial and perhaps, a fake encounter. It was clear that the story peddled by the Congress government, framing Prabhakaran for the mysterious suicide bomb attack that killed former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, does not wash anymore.

Startled at the spontaneous public response transcending party lines, AIADMK has now announced that it would support a similar demonstration scheduled for October 10. It is being organised by MDMK chief, Vaiko and will stage a demonstration in front of Shastri Bhavan, the seat of New Delhi’s offices in Chennai. The former CM has assured Vaiko that her organising secretary, Muthusamy would speak at the demonstration.

Even apologists of the ’Bharat Mata’ concept are rattled at the mammoth groundswell. State unit president Ganesan of BJP demanded that the ruling DMK seek the Centre’s intervention in ensuring a political resolution to the ethnic conflict in the island nation. KV Thangabalu, president of TN Congress said, “Don’t try to isolate the Congress in Tamil Nadu from the issue. As the president of the TNCC, I am ready to lead an all-party delegation to Delhi to take up the issue.”

The octogenarian CM Karunanidhi has sensed the magnitude of public ire that may dethrone his government. He is seen as a shameless collaborator in New Delhi’s connivance in ethnic cleansing. He broke his ominously long silence and asked his cadre to send ‘millions of telegrams’ to Manmonan Singh seeking a halt to collaborating with the Sri Lankan regime. He then spoke to Manmohan Singh and asked the Centre “to treat the appeal as a distress call and of national importance.”

“In an attempt to cool tempers in TN, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan was directed to summon Sri Lankan envoy and convey “India’s grave concern and unhappiness” at the growing casualties of unarmed Tamil civilians in the military action there.” The worthy advised Sri Lanka, “It is essential that vital supplies to the affected population are not disrupted in any manner.”

Reacting to the useless rhetoric that is no more than loud noises, Karunanidhi issued a veiled threat to pull out of the precariously positioned United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

He declared, “If this atrocity against Lankan Tamils does not stop, then we will have to find answer to the question, ’Whether we require this government?’ I tell you with all humility that this meeting is to tell you this."

Are the hot-headed strategic planners in New Delhi – quite a few of them traditionally from TN, but viewed as traitors and black sheep there – driving TN to go the Eelam way? Developments in October will decide if New Delhi will be adding to the Kashmir imbroglio another hopeless embroilment in the South.

 

Part II

Karunanidhi heads the weakest government ever in TN. Opposition brands as eyewash the ‘all party’ meet convened by him on October 14 to condemn Centre’s policies of colluding with Sri Lanka in genocide against Tamils...

THE HUMILIATING snub suffered by India at the hands of its tiny southern neighbour on October 10 was nothing new. It was deserved. That is the price the self-styled ‘emerging superpower’ flaunting nukes and pipe-dreaming to lord over the region has had to pay a number of times. Only a morbid amnesiac can forget how Sri Lankan president Jayawardane delayed seeing the credentials of high profile ambassador JN Dixit, making him wait for months in his court. The ‘royal’ treatment that former India PM Rajiv Gandhi, who was falling head over heels to him, received while inspecting a guard of honour in Colombo has been recorded live in world media.

In an interview to Al Jazeera, president Rajapaksa stated that bombing of Northern towns will not stop till ‘terrorists’ were crushed and a political solution to the civil war with liberation forces in Eelam can wait till then. He ridiculed New Delhi’s "grave concern and unhappiness" at the growing casualties of unarmed Tamil civilians and its counsel to negotiate a peaceful political solution. Rajapaksa loudly wondered, “What can we offer a terrorist outfit which wants a separate state?” and parroted what SL has been claiming since 25 years: “The only option left for the (Liberation) Tigers, who have reached the end of the battle, is to surrender.”

The previous day, foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama referred to the ‘summon’ to deputy high commissioner GGAD Palithaganegoda at New Delhi from National Security Adviser (NSA) of India MK Narayanan in a suo moto statement in Parliament: “Hon members may also be aware of reports of MK Narayanan expressing concern on the situation in Sri Lanka. In this regard I wish to reiterate Sri Lanka’s policy. . . the onus is on international community to support Colombo by taking concrete and tangible measures to ‘combat terrorism’."

At the root of such trashing India receives in the neighbourhood is the aspiration among the powers-that-be in New Delhi to give a decent burial to federalism in the grossly mismanaged, unwieldy entity. They openly admire the haggard Sinhala Unitary State, which has failed even more miserably than India on the socio-economic development front.

Its only ‘achievement’ is of staying a Unitary State for 60 years, despite delivering nothing! Indian leaders, from the so-called cream of society, too crave for a unitary set up, where aspirations of different ethnicities can be nipped. These bosses have been prostrating before ‘powerful’ tyrants in Colombo, despite being shown their place more than once.

Meanwhile, the Indian PM Manmohan Singh has had no time to spare, apart from the loud noises, he directed his NSA to make, to rescue Tamilnadu CM Karunanidhi, who is facing public outrage at the indiscriminate killings of Eelam Tamils.

Singh is too busy regularising the ‘give and take commitments’ made by his government to get India stamped as a nuclear weapon ‘no-power’! Poised to demit office any time, his government is understandably focused on collecting ‘upfront benefits’ for his friends and masters, from multi-billion dollar ‘deals’, which were enabled under US-India nuke agreement.

Karunanidhi heads the weakest government ever in TN, dubbed by the main opposition All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), as a ‘minority government’. For the first time since 1966, the state government survives on ‘outside’ support from Congress.

His Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is fighting hard to ward off local Congress wolves, who clamour for a direct share in the power pie. The huge response from people to a rally organised by Communist Party of India (CPI) on October 2 to protest the Sri Lankan oppression on Eelam Tamils had spurred him to act. His gimmick of directing his party cadre to ‘flood the PMO’ with “millions of protest telegrams” that prompted Narayanan’s ‘concern’ fell through. Karunanidhi is also rattled by the mammoth support received by the influential Dravidian leader Vaiko’s plan for the rally on October 10.

The CM has now convened an ‘all party’ meet of state leaders on October 14 to jointly express condemnation of New Delhi’s connivance in the massacre. But, this is seen as another drama, even as Sri Lankan Air Force and Army are readying to devastate Eelam for capturing the rebel capital Killinochchi.

Except for high-bred Tamils, considered themselves among self-styled ‘Aryans’ of the North, none in Tamilnadu relishes this prospect. Ironically, a major section of important people in the foreign affairs officialdom in New Delhi happen to be from this section.

Dravidian leader Vaiko heads Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), which is currently aligned with opposition AIADMK in the state. The one-time colleague of Karunanidhi has turned his bitterest adversary and is emerging as the central force in the new scheme of things. Vaiko was a senior union minister in the non-saffron coalition. The most vociferous advocate of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been consistent in the stand, whatever party he aligns to.

He even travelled to Eelam to interview its leader Prabhakaran.

The LTTE leader has every chance to become the head of the state of a country, but New Delhi wants him extradited to India (if Lankans ever catch him)!

Vaiko seems to have planned a grand strategy and has switched to Jayalalitha’s AIDMK camp, which is considered to be a saffron ally. Interestingly, she had put Vaiko behind bars for more than a year, when she was the state CM on charges of sedition. He was charged with ‘inciting Tamils against the Indian government’ and the ruling party in New Delhi helplessly watched. Incidentally, the governments of both Karunanidhi and Jayalalitha have been sacked by New Delhi, at a time, when they were enjoying absolute majority, courtesy the local Congress leaders.

Jayalalitha, drastically reversing her earlier tirade against LTTE of “escalating the civil war that has killed thousands of innocent civilians… including India’s former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi”, has extended full support to Vaiko.

She now wants a halt to military aid to Sri Lanka and has clarified, “We recognise the rights of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka to demand for equality before law, equality in educational institutions and equality in employment with their Sinhala brethren. We recognise their struggle for self-determination and an autonomous Tamil homeland in a truly federal set-up.”

The opposition leader slammed the “minority governments” at Chennai and New Delhi for preventing Vaiko from taking out his rally. Jayalalitha said that the CM had "no moral right" to convene an all party meet; he was just "watching” the attacks on Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian fishermen. She dared him to withdraw support to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government “for providing training to the Sri Lankan army”. The AIADMK announced that it will boycott the “eyewash” all party meet on October 14.

Vaiko holds that the ruling DMK government in TN is to blame for every Tamil being killed in Eelam. He disclosed that he had written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking him to demand return of HAL radars supplied to SL.

These were as part of military aid and the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) uses them to conduct civilian bombings. In his reply, the PM promised to do so if they had indeed been used against the Tamils. “Yet, SLAF continues bombing civilian areas. Moreover, New Delhi is silent on my request for permission since 18 months to send relief supplies of food and medicines through Red Cross,” he charged. He warned Karunanidhi and Singh, “In the name of safeguarding Sri Lanka’s sovereignty, don’t lose India’s sovereignty and national integration.” He charged that the “Centre is colluding with Colombo’s military machine indulging in genocide, while the state government goes on issuing bland statements of eyewash.”

A Tamil Congressman V Narayanasamy, who is a junior Union minister and an AICC general secretary, has called for a ban on the MDMK. He accused the party of championing the “cause of LTTE” and extending “open support to the outlawed Sri Lankan militant outfit”.

TN’s Congress leaders are apparently alarmed at the resurfacing of Rajiv Gandhi’s ghost as a result of these developments. Jayalalitha, who could be silenced all these years from speaking out, seems to have gone out of their control. She declared: “We are opposed to an armed struggle, which has lost its way, resulting in killing of thousands of innocent people on both sides. We are distressed that a former Indian prime minister was brutally assassinated on Tamil soil as a fallout of this struggle,” without implicating LTTE in it.

She was only expressing the general perception that the impulsive PM just paid the price for heeding to biased, high-bred foreign policy pundits. He sent Indian Peace Keeping Force to fight LTTE in the hope of installing an obliging puppet regime at Colombo. The soldiers, in frustration at being sent on what was clearly a suicide mission, committed grave atrocities against Tamil people. It eventually earned the most humiliating defeat to the mighty Indian Military machine when it was kicked out by the militia fighting for their home and hearth.

Already, the story peddled by Indian ‘experts’, framed up LTTE and Prabhakaran for the sake of ‘successfully cracking’ the assassination mystery, is being increasingly trashed.

There were no credible corroborative or eyewitness evidences presented. There are not many takers for hush-hush trials by a TADA court that admitted extracted confessions for condemning two dozen poor refugees.

It was also far-fetched to imagine that so many persons nabbed alive could belong to LTTE, whose cadre are known to bite a locket of cyanide they wear if caught, as they ‘confessed’.

Indian authorities, including the judiciary, conveniently chose to ignore the question: “Why would the highly motivated outfit with limited resources, fighting for liberation against a formidable army, resort to an assassination which cannot help their cause in any way?”

On the other hand, it was the Congress that gained the maximum from the death of the mercurial PM. There was no other way for the party to have won the elections without exploiting the ‘sympathy wave’ that the ‘sacrifice’ generated.

No wonder, TN Congress bigwigs are keen to silence anyone, including Priyanka Gandhi, trying to dig out the truth!

The most prudent step for New Delhi now would be to not only stop covert aid to Sri Lanka to crush so-called terrorists.

It should wake up to the reality of outcry against hijacking of the federal concept in India. Overwhelming popular support is enjoyed by regional parties in every state of India, who protest this hijack.

If Eelam Tamil issue has become so explosive, it is because the Colombo regime felt militarily powerful enough to impose a Unitary Sinhala-controlled system in place of a federal structure, denying human rights to Tamils.

Mercifully, India is too big a country for its military to suppress such popular uprisings. Yet, if the fictitious concept of placing “country’s interests above human rights, ethnic pride and identity” continues to be promoted for long, it will be a matter of time for India too to meet the fate of USSR or Yugoslavia or now Sri Lanka.