IS the TNPF Throwing Rocks at a Wasp Nest?

by A Nillanthan, September 24, 2023

[Translated from the original Tamil by Google Translate with corrections by the Editor. Further corrections welcome.]

A vehicle of the Tamil National People’s Front (TNPF) was attacked in Trincomalee. The vehicle carrying Thileepan’s picture had first passed that way last year, but the vehicle was not targeted at that time. The place where the vehicle was attacked was in Tirumala, the dispossessed Tamil land under the Gal Oya Settlement Scheme.  It has already been realized in Batticaloa that accidents may happen by targeting that vehicle. It is clear from the videos that the leadership did not expect such an attack. It also seems that they did not come with the necessary personnel to defend themselves.

A member of Parliament is not an individual. He is a community. He is a representative of the people who voted for him. But a member of parliament of the TNPF stands with very few. That would have given courage to the attackers. The police did not act with speed to stop the attack. Journalists were also among those who were involved in the attack. Some of those journalists have since sought to defend the parliamentarian. Women are seen among those involved in the attack. It was well planned to make it look like a community attack.

The TNPF has been fermenting Tamil politics for the past few months. The party is emerging as the defence against anti-Tamil politics. The party has been actively protesting against activities such as land acquisition and construction of temples. Therefore, the purpose of the attack may be to threaten the party in a way that makes it aware of its boundaries. The TNPF’s leader, Gajendra Kumar has already been arrested and then released and an attempt to besiege his Colombo house is also for that purpose. His mother who lives there has already lost her husband to ethnic strife. By giving her a crisis there, they can give a crisis to her son. So it can be said that the attack in Trincomalee is aimed at demonstrating the limits of anti-Tamil politics after 2009.

On the one hand, the attack was intended to threaten the Front. On the other hand, it may also have the intention of strengthening the Front to some extent. The TNPF is a party that openly promotes anti-India on the Tamil national level. If the party is strengthened to a significant extent, it can institutionalize the anti-India politics among the Tamil people. The attack may have the intention of making the work of the government easier.

An argument is made that the Sinhalese were provoked by the vehicle passing that way. This argument is generally presented in all opposition political arenas. This argument was made even during the early stages of the armed struggle, when guerilla attacks took place. They throw stones at the wasp colony and it was explained that the wasps will disperse and sting the common people in the area. Such is the nature of opposition politics. As the opposition sharpens, so does the repression against it. The oppressor exposes itself and the oppressed becomes more politicized and rallies against oppression. That is how protest politics has developed all over the world.

The Tirumala incident will strengthen the vote bank of the Front and it can create awareness among the young generation in Trincomalee.A generation has been politically disengaged for the last 14 years and a section of them has started asking why they should oppose Sinhalese Buddhism. Another section has also started asking why it should be called a public enemy.

In such a political environment, the Tirumala incident can increase awareness of the oppressive system. A social activist said that it can be seen in the social media activities of the youth there after the incident. He said that many people who could say that they did not know who Thileepan was before the incident, are now looking to read Thileepan. Not only that, after the incident, most of the parties and activists in the Tamil national space have expressed their brotherhood with the Front. Especially Manivannan, who broke away from the Front, and members of parliament from the TNA and other parties have expressed their support for the Front. Politicians who do not have a Tamilian stance have also condemned the incident.

The aftermath of this incident shows that when oppression comes, the Tamil people will gather as a race. Here is a lesson for leaders to learn.

From time to time the Tamil people have gathered in large numbers if they could come under some common stand. The tragedy of the last 14 years is that the Tamil parties could not gather them in such a way. Thus, the Tirumala attack can be said to be an incident that kind of brought the Tamil parties and activists together.

In Tirumala where the Front was hit, it was an area that has been Sinhalesed through planned settlements. The Tamil politics of the last decades could not recover the region. Not only that, now a Tamil parliament member has been attacked there. The land grab that started in the east has succeeded to a significant extent in Trincomalee and Amparai. It is also spreading to the north.

At the time of the attack in Tirumala a single party was marching on the Jaffna highway. Its MP was seen with very few supporters. The vehicle was moving with only a few vehicles. What does it show that a party seen as the spearhead of Tamil national politics is facing an attack with so few defenders? Is it the weakness of Tamil nationalist politics? Or the party’s weakness?

On this same Thileeban day three years ago in 2020, all the parties protested together. Then the police tried to stop the protest by court order. But the police could not stop the protest as the Tamil parties stood united.

By writing this here, this article does not try to write a children’s cartoon that the Tamil National People’s Front should form a united front with other parties. But in a political environment where Sinhalese migration among the Tamil people is increasing against the background of the economic crisis, how the Sinhalese Buddhist politics and the outside world will not be impressed to see that the so-called Tamil national politics has shrunk to a small group of people, and that a member of parliament is attacked on a highway and only a few supporters stand around him?

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