Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The Situation in Tamil Nadu and Politics Concerning Eelam

by M. Nadarajan

[Vaiko] is a great supporter of the Tamil Eelam cause. He was asked what happens to his stand on the Eelam issue now and he said he will continue to support it vigorously. Maybe he can change Ms. Jayalalitha's stance on this matter.

As we all know, there was plenty of support for Eelam Tamils in Tamil Nadu at one time. After the assassination of the late Rajiv Gandhi most of this evaporated. This was due to the authorities blaming the LTTE for the assassination. All the accused who appeared in the case were sentenced to death. Subsequently, all but four were released. Appeals have been made by Eelam supporters for Presidential pardon and/or commutation of the sentence for these four. As is the practice in India, decisions on such matters take years.

However, there continued a certain amount of support for the Eelam cause, like embers covered by ashes, amongst the general public. Some senior politicians said that they supported the Tamils of Eelam , but (to save their skin) not the LTTE. Chief Minister Jayalalitha had fears that she was on the hit list of the LTTE and appeared in public wearing a bullet proof vest.

There were a few others who openly supported Eelam Tamils and had meetings, conferences and conventions all over Tamil Nadu and even in Bangalore and in New Delhi under the Chairmanship of Justice Krishna Iyer. The conference in New Delhi was convened by Mr. George Fernandez, who later became Defense Minister.

P NedumaranChief amongst the open supporters of Eelam Tamils have been Messrs. Pala
Nedumaran, President of The Tamil National Movement and The World Tamil
Federation, Vaiko, leader of the MDMK, Dr. Ramadass, leader of the PMK, Messrs. Thirumavalavan, leader of the Dalit Panthers, Veeramani of the DK, Viduthalai Rajendran of the Periyar DK and a host of their friends and followers, too numerous to mention.

Mr. Nedumaran, in addition, formed the Tamil Eelam Liberation Supporters Coordinating Committee, which publishes a fortnightly newspaper called 'Then Seide'. The newspaper publishes a fair amount of Eelam news and what is happening in Sri Lanka, particularly in the Northeast. It ha also published 'Background Papers' on many subjects relating to Eelam Tamils and the background of the national problem in Sri Lanka. Many of these background reports have been reprints of articles in the Ilankai Tamil Sangam website. These were published in English and distributed throughout India to political parties, governments in power in the States, Libraries, Universities and Human Rights organizations.

Vaiko The Indian Government passed TADA (the Terrorism and Disruptive and Activities Prevention Act) in 1987 and started prosecuting people under the Act. The accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case were also prosecuted under that Act.  Several others were prosecuted under the Act, not always for the right reason. This was possibly another reason for the support for the Eelam Tamil cause diminishing, out of fear. This Act lapsed in 1995. In 2002 another Act called POTA (the Prevention of Terrorism Act) was passed in the aftermath of the 9/11 event in New York. The Act has since been repealed, in 2004.

During the time this Act was operative, State governments started to settle old scores by arresting many leaders who were opposed to their views. Cases were filed against the opposition and, since the system of justice in India takes a long time to conclude court cases, leaders spent many months - and some of them years - in jail till the cases were decided. Countrywide condemnation of this Act was perhaps one of the reasons for its repeal.

In Tamil Nadu, Mr. Nedumaran and some of his supporters and members of the Tamil National Movement and Mr.Vaiko and some of his supporters and members of MDMK were arrested and spent long times in jail. They were accused of making speeches supporting the LTTE, which is a banned organization in India. They have all been released now, as they were not found guilty.

In Mr. Nedumaran's case, the State government has appealed against the verdicts and he has been prohibited from speaking at meetings. Two new cases have been filed against him. In almost all cases that were filed in Tamil Nadu, the so- called offences were supposed to have been committed several years ago. When the arrest of Mr.Nedumaran took place, police sealed the 'Then Seide' office, and later broke it open and removed many documents. 'Then Seide,' however, continues to be published.

Recent events are in Tamil Nadu are very interesting. When it was known that Sri Lankan President Rajapakse was coming to Tamil Nadu to meet the Chief Minister in December 2005, after visiting the Indian Prime Minister in New Delhi, a mammoth meeting was held at 'Periyar Thidal,' the grounds in the DK office premises, to protest against the visit. Mesrs.Vaiko, Veeramani and Dr. Ramadass were among the people who spoke. Mr. Nedumaran was present, but could not take the podium because of the ban on his public speaking. As a result of the protest, the Chief Minister canceled Mr. Rajapakse's visit. This created a stir in Tamil Nadu.

Thousands of telegrams were sent on behalf of Tamil Eelam Supporters Coordinating Committee to the Prime Minister asking him not to sign any military agreement with the Sri Lankan Government. Mr .Vaiko and Dr. Ramadass went personally to speak with the Prime Minister about this.

On Feb. 14th, 2006 a Conference was held in Chennai under auspices of the Liberation Panthers in support of the "Protection of Eelam Tamils." Leaders of various parties spoke at the meeting. A similar Conference for the same purpose was held at the 'Periyar Thidal' on Feb.19th, 2006 under the auspices of the Periyar Dravida Kazhagam of 'Viduthalai' Rajendran.

It has been decided to hold similar Conferences in most capitals of the districts of Tamil Nadu State.

It has been also decided by the Tamil Eelam Supporters Coordinating Committee to hold a meeting in Madurai condemning the shooting of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sinhalese Navy. This matter has raised a lot of concern throughout Tamil Nadu.

At the Third Annual Convention of the World Tamil Federation held at Nagarkovil in July 2005, which was attended by Tamils from all over the World, a resolution was passed condemning the proposed joint Indo-Sri Lanka military agreement. It was also proposed at the convention to establish coordination between Tamil Organizations in Tamil Nadu and in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Parliamentarian Mr. Chandrasekaran of the Up-country Peoples Front and Pulavar Subramaniam, President of Bangalore Tamil Sangam were appointed as coordinators of this effort.

Vaiko and Jayalalitha 2006 On the political front, surprisingly, Mr.Vaiko of the MDMK has joined Chief Minister Jayalalitha's party to jointly contest the local elections to the State Assembly which is to take place shortly. Vaiko, who was estranged with Kalaignar's DMK party for a few years, joined the party again. He is a great supporter of the Tamil Eelam cause. He was asked what happens to his stand on the Eelam issue now and he said he will continue to support it vigorously. Maybe he can change Ms. Jayalailatha's stance on this matter.

Vaiko's move had been rumored for some time, and was supposed to be based on the fact that the A.I.D.M.K was prepared to give his party many more seats to contest than the D.M.K. allotted. Mr.Vaiko denied the rumor and appeared with Aligner Karunanithi at meetings. But the rumor became a fact, and he did join the Chief Minister.

There is more than meets the eye on this move, and in my view, there is more than a few more seats involved.

All in all, the new moves in Tamil Nadu seem favorable to Eelam Tamils.

N.B. Since the article was written on April 5th, the Madras High Court has relaxed the conditions on not to speak at meetings on Messrs Nedumaran, Subaveerapandian and Thiyagappan and others in view of the forthcoming State Assembly elections. However they are restarined from speaking against the State government or in support of the LTTE or any banned organisations.

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