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

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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Indictment against Sri Lanka: Introduction & Index > Indictment against Sri Lanka - the Record Speaks

The Charge is Ethnic Cleansing

  • Tamil Times March 1988

We carry below a translation of a special report published in the JUNIOR VIKATAN, a popular Tamil-language weekly of Madras in its issue of 24 February. JUNIOR VIKATAN is a lively sister publication of the presitigious ANANDA VIKATAN with its office at 757, Anna Salai, Madras 600 002. (Editor: S. Balasubramaniam. Associate Editor: Mathan)

`The question whether the military offensive ordered against the Liberation Tigers was justified or not may be left aside for the moment as a debatable issue. There could be pros and cons. Okay, let us even grant for the sake of argument that there were good reasons that motivated the action. But how in the name of humanity could anyone condone or justify the high-handed and brutal way in which the ordinary citizens of Jaffna were treated?' asked a prominent newspaperman speaking to us in Madras. He had just come from Sri Lanka.

He continued: 'Why did Indian newspapers who prattle time and again about freedom and democracy in their own country maintain a monumental silence and callous indifference when in the stupid hope of disarming the Liberation Tigers in a day or two, the Indian forces went about killing innocent peaceful citizens and treating them as a herd of cattle?

`Imagine the plight of the people. Not knowhing when a shell might burst, and take away whose life, at what place, the dazed citizens of Jaffna were running helter-skelter in seach of shelter, and having found it, hiding in fear wondering whether it would be safe enough? The Liberation Tigers were living mingled with the people it was being shouted. So what? Where else could they live? Does that mean that the entire population has to be put to sword and fire because the Indian Army does not understand the concept of a "degree of war".

`There was this incident in the "Muddasukkadai" junction ( a commercial and business area) in the Jaffna town,' he said. 'A Liberation Tiger had taken a pot-shot at an Indian jawan and killed him. Within a short time a whole battalion of Indian soldiers moved into the area, cordoned off all the environs, marched every man, woman and child found in the area and ordered them to squat on the tarred roads in the hot sun. This began around 9 a.m. and very soon they had lined up nearly 3000 persons. There was absolutely no consideration whether they were old folk, elderly men or women or the sick or the young. Until about 6p.m. they were kept there, without food, without drinking water, with not even the facility to ease themselves, until all shops and roads and lanes and nooks and corners were flushed in search of the lone Tiger guerrilla.

`Any young Tamil, irrespective of who he was, and without any questions being asked, was promptly assaulted with rifle butts. In some instances even elderly people were shabbily manhandled.

`One group of soldiers who entered the office of the Tamil daily newspaper, the EELANADU, pushed and dragged all the members of the staff to the road outside. Interestingly, the editor in charge, Mr. Perumal is a person of recent Indian origin from the plantations and one who was closely associated with the elderly and respected one-time editor Mr. Haran (He was an Indian national who passed away later in India - Ed.) Mr Perumal himself was dragged out and when he tried to explain, he was beaten with a belt and a piece of wire.

`Next, Indian soldiers stormed into the well-known Tamil Hindu educational institution, the Vaidheeswara Vidyalayam, also in the same area, and pulled out both the men and women teachers and roughed them up in the presence of their own students. Some of them suffered face injuries as a result of being pushed and hit by rifle butts.

`Humiliated as they were by being forced to sit on the public road like convicted criminals, the suffering people were not even allowed to leave the place to ease themselves, despite several pleas.

`Repeatedly the soldiers went up to the group of squatting people and threatened them: "You should know the fellow who killed our soldier. It could not have happened without someone here knowing the identity of the person. Tell us, tell us ... or else ...", they kept shouting at them.

`Unable to endure the tormenting any longer, an elderly citizen spoke up: "Sirs, we come to the town not to observe what is happening here. We come here on business, urgent business for our living, and once we finish it, we get out of this problematical place as fast as we came in. We don't like to remain here one moment longer than is necessary. We do not have the time (because of the daily evening curfew) nor the mind nor the authority to look with suspicion at everyone else who is here. As for you, you have sentry points here every 50 yards. You should be having at least 100 jawans in this area guarding, watching, questioning, examining all of us. Are you fair in asking us this question that should properly be addressed to your own sentries?"

`The elderly man who spoke up, paid the price for it. He was slapped and kicked.

`Only vehicles, whether buses or cars or two-wheelers, which have been issued IPKF passes could carry people. Even if you have a woman with childbirth pains to be rushed to hospital you have to find a vehicle with a pass. Getting a pass is not that easy anyway. It would be like boring into a mountain to catch a mouse. Many people who have waited vainly in queues for these passes decide that it would be easier to walk the miles.

`On the appeal made by the Liberation Tigers, or maybe because of their threats, government officers have refused to attend offices. As a result essential government business is paralysed. Only the Jaffna General hospital is functioning somewhat.

`Out of the Jaffna newspapers, only the "Eelanadu" has been given permission to come out, since January 15, and that too under a specific condition; that no news relating to happenings in Jaffna could be published without IPKF clearance. The publishers were told that the imposition of this condition itself should not be published.

`On top of all these, the harassment that Tamils undergo at the hands of some supposed Tamil militant group of youths on the Jaffna-Colombo road, at a spot barely 50-100 yards from the IPKF and Sri Lanka army checkpoints has been causing untold misery. When they identify merchants and business people they are promptly abducted from the place and ransom demands are made; apart from this, all travellers are questioned and treated with disrespect. The funny thing is that such high-handed behaviour, extortion and robbery take place in such close proximity to the IPKF camps. One does not know whether a part of this loot goes into the hands of the IPKF personnel. Jaffna businessman V.K.Rajaratnam who deals in radios, Television sets, Tape recorders etc. was recently identified by these youths and a ransom demand of Rs.3 lakhs was made in return for his freedom. Only after a sizeable portion of the ransom money was paid was he released.

`The Jaffna residents are convinced in their own minds that any attempts to hold elections without arriving at a political settlement with the Liberation Tigers would only result in a volcanic eruption of violence in Jaffna. Will the Government of India, and its officials grasp this reality?'

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