Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> Tamil Nadu > Tamil Nadu & the Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle > New Delhi's Policy on Sri Lanka will be Tamil Nadu's Policy says Karunanidhi

tamil nadu
& Tamil Eelam freedom struggle

New Delhi's Policy on Sri Lanka
will be Tamil Nadu's Policy says Karunanidhi

Times of India, 6 June 2006
[see also 1. Comment by tamilnation.org and
2. Kannagi statue reinstated in Chennai Marina]

In one stroke of a sentence, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi has made it clear that he has no intention of whipping up passions over violence in Sri Lanka or the refugee flow from that country to his state.

On May 25, Karunanidhi, freshly elected to power in Tamil Nadu, home to the largest concentration of Tamils in the world, held a 15-minute one-to-one meeting with Arumugam Thondaman, leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) and a special envoy of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse. On Monday, after calling on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and separately meeting Congress president Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, Karunanidhi revealed to reporters what he had told Thondaman: "The central government's policy (on Sri Lanka) will be the state government's policy."

This is what he said. What he left unsaid was: if New Delhi considers the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) a terrorist outfit or draws a distinction between the Tamil people and the Tigers, then that will be Tamil Nadu's view too.

In other words, unlike the 1980s when Karunanidhi competed with his arch rival and AIADMK founder leader MG Ramachandran in expressing support to the Tamil cause, Tamil Nadu will now let New Delhi frame and execute India's Sri Lanka policy.

Although Tamil Nadu's two dominant parties, the DMK and AIADMK, had stopped supporting the LTTE after the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, this is the first time Karunanidhi is publicly making his stand so forthrightly clear. It also shows his confidence level and his understanding of the popular psyche in Tamil Nadu.

This is significant and comes as escalating violence in Sri Lanka is sending a fresh wave of Tamils into Tamil Nadu as refugees and after pro-LTTE Tamil politicians in the island hailed Karunanidhi following his election victory in May.

Tamil Nadu is separated from Sri Lanka by a narrow strip of sea. It played host to thousands of Tamil refugees in the 1980s besides all Tamil guerrilla groups. LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran was based in the state for over three years.

Karunanidhi went out of the way to plead the LTTE's cause even during the Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka, despite being ignored by Prabhakaran when MGR was chief minister.

The DMK paid a heavy price when the Tigers assassinated Gandhi near Chennai May 21, 1991. By the time Karunanidhi returned to power in 1996, he was a much-mellowed man on Sri Lanka. Times too have changed. In 1989, when he had a soft corner for LTTE, he boasted that he spoke on behalf of "world Tamils". Very soon, however, LTTE journals were calling Prabhakaran the leader of all Tamils. And unlike the era when the Tamil side was seen in Tamil Nadu as waging a just battle, the terrorist tag the Tigers have globally earned has added to the disenchantment in the state.

Tamil Nadu officials are doing what they can for the Tamils coming by boats from Sri Lanka. But the mass emotive solidarity of the 1980s does not exist. Reached on telephone, a Rameshwaram resident reflected the dominant opinion:
"We are sorry for these people. But beyond that we would not like to get involved."

The other day, speaking said from Colombo, Sri Lankan Tamil politician V Anandasangaree moaned that his letter to Karunanidhi had gone unanswered. If the chief minister's remarks in New Delhi on Monday are any indication, Anandasangaree is unlikely to get any response. The DMK chief does not want to get pushed around by happenings in neighbouring Sri Lanka.

Comment by tamilnation.org   [see also Tamil Nadu Going Eelam Way? - September/October 2008]

Despite appearances to the contrary, Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi's policies in relation to the struggle for Tamil Eelam have always been within the frame work of New Delhi's policies - and therefore Mr.Karunanidhi  has not said anything new.

In the early1980s, Mr.Karunanidhi voiced concern about the Tamil struggle within the frame of  Indira Gandhi's interventionist role. At that time he built relations with New Delhi's favoured militant group, TELO.  Later when New Delhi's approach changed, Mr.Karunanidhi also changed. At a meeting with a Gandhian organisation in New Delhi in 1984, a north Indian peace activist bitingly remarked to a Tamil lobbying group - "Do not imagine that you have the support of Mr.Karunanidhi. Please remember that when Indira Gandhi tells Mr.Karunanidhi to stop, the barking will stop." He added, "Indira Gandhi has enough ammunition to make Mr.Karunanidhi stop." And, Mr.Karunanidhi's interventions with New Delhi during the period of the IPKF must be considered in the context of the relations that New Delhi sought to maintain with the LTTE even as the conflict between the LTTE and the IPKF raged in Tamil Eelam. J.N.Dixit (who served as Indian High Commissioner in Colombo during the period of the IPKF in Tamil Eelam) reports in Assignment Colombo -

"... (Though) Rajiv Gandhi wanted to be firm with the LTTE, he had an equally greater concern to see that he does not have a completely antagonistic government in Tamil Nadu. It is in this context that he agreed to the suggestion made by Anand Verma of the Cabinet Secretariat that he should be allowed to keep in touch with the LTTE leadership as well as with Jayewardene through back channels to see if LTTE could not be persuaded to abide by the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement..."

Mr.Karunanidhi  has not been slow to  reinstate the Kannagi statute in the Chennai Marina but he is unwilling to give voice - குரல் (leave alone act)  in support of the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to be free from alien Sinhala rule. It was after all, about Cilapathikaram and Kannagi that Professor A.L. Basham wrote many years ago that it has '' a grim force and splendour unparalleled elsewhere in Indian literature- that it is imbued with both the ferocity of the early Tamils and their stern respect for justice, and incidentally, it throws light on early Tamil political ideas.''  It appears, however, that Mr.Karunanidhi is ready and willing to sacrifice the justice of the struggle for Tamil Eelam in the altar of New Delhi's strategic interests in the Indian region.

It was the same Mr.Karunanidhi who declared in 1983, at the Marina beach, not far from Kannagi's statute, that if he was asked whether he was a Tamil or an Indian, he would reply that he was both a Tamil and an Indian. But he went on to add, to the tumultuous cheers of his audience, if the questioner persisted and insisted that he choose and repeated the question again - are you a Tamil or an Indian, he would reply that he was a Tamil first and only then an Indian.

But today Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi, who claimed that he was a Tamil first and then an Indian,  is content to be silent whilst those he often describes, from public platforms, as his 'udanpirapukal' are raped,  murdered,  executed, abducted, attacked in their homes and shops, bombed massacred, and displaced in their thousands  from their homes.

And here let us be clear. The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to be free from alien Sinhala rule is not about what the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may have done or may not have done. It is not about the assassination of  Rajiv Gandhi and not even about the war crimes committed by the Indian Peace Keeping Force.  The struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam is about that which the Gandhian  Tamil leader S.J.V.Chelvanayagam declared more than thirty years ago -

"Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination. It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon. It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils. I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free."

The armed resistance of the people of Tamil Eelam (warts and all)  arose as the inevitable response to Sri Lankan state terror - a state terror which Paul Sieghart Q.C. described in his  Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists in March1984, in the following terms -

 ".. Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit."

It was a state terror which was described by Deanna Hodgin, Staff Writer/Foreign Correspondent, Insight Magazine in 1991 -

"Last summer (1990),  I spent five weeks in Sri Lanka reporting on the civil war in the North and East. I am not a scholar of Sub continental politics or history, nor am I a think tank or development agency intellectual -- my work is more a glorified form of visiting with people than anything so respectable. When in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Amritsar and the Middle East, my job description has been amended to visiting with people who are fighting for independence. In my work, I have seen horrific torture, beatings, bombings and shootings, but nothing so terrible as I witnessed in Sri Lanka last year.

And Professor Margaret Trawick from New Zealand wrote in 1996 -

"..I have been struggling in my mind against the conclusion that the Sri Lanka government is trying to kill or terrorize as many Tamil people as possible; that the government is trying to keep the conditions of the war unreported internationally, because if those conditions were reported, the actions of the military would be perceived as so deplorable that foreign nations would have no choice but to condemn them. And this would be embarrassing to everybody. But it seems now that no other conclusion is possible..."

The genocidal attacks launched by Sri Lanka on the people of Tamil Eelam should be self evident except to those who would prefer to close their eyes. When the history of Tamil Eelam comes to be written (as surely it will), the question will be asked: where was the Dravidian leader, Muthuvel Karunanidhi?  And history will, no doubt,  provide a fair answer - he was minding his own business.



Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home