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 > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam >Rajiv Gandhi Assassination > Jain Commission Interim Report -Introduction & Index  > Scope & Parameters of Inquiry > Growth of Sri Lanka Tamil Militancy in Tamil Nadu - Index > Background - Sections 1 to 4 > Background - Sections 5 to 13

Jain Commission Interim Report

Growth of Sri Lankan Tamil Militancy in Tamil Nadu
Background - Sections 1 to 4

1. Introduction | 2. Geographical, historical and Cultural factors which bind India with Sri Lanka | 3. Genesis of ethnic strife in Sri Lanka | 4. Sri Lankan Tamils problem: A shocking revelation - Reasons for riots - Economy - Education and employment - Language and employment - Percentage of Tamils in Employment - Continuous efforts to annhilate the Tamil Race - Dwindling representation in the Parliament - Sinhalisation Plan - Foreign naval base in Trincomalee

Introduction : A Background

1.Over decades, the cumulatively growing theme of ethnic affinity between the Tamils of India and Sri Lanka, identification of a section of Indian Tamils with the chauvinistic Pan-Tamil ideals and the emotional and material support extended by them to their Sri Lankan ethnic brethren across the Palk Straits gradually coalesced into a situation where the criminal activities of the Sri Lankan Tamil militants on the Indian soil were not only tolerated, but also indulgently ignored and, even tacitly abetted. In the state of Tamil Nadu, during the eighties, the militant Sri Lankan Tamil groups, especially the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), practiced and nurtured their gun-and- bomb culture with impunity .

In public perception, they were not outlaws but above the law. The twin emotional planks of ethnic Tamil affinity and gross racial discrimination against them were ruthlessly misused by these terrorists as a pretext of building up of their infrastructural empire in the Southern Indian state which served as the LTTE's lifeline during their protracted armed conflict first with the state of Sri Lanka and, later, ironically, with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka.

2. It was years of this insidious infiltration into the very fabric of the Indian system, and its subversion, which enabled just a small hit squad of the LTTE to brazenly carry out the assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi on 21st May 1991 at Sriperumbudur with such aplomb.

3. It, therefore, becomes necessary to advert to the genesis of this ethnic conflict in neighbouring Sri Lanka and the circumstances it created which bred such viciously violent terrorists whose tentacles entrenched themselves into Indian soil and whose nefarious activities in India culminated in one of the most dastardly assassinations in recent Indian history.

4. While examining the spillover of the Sri Lankan ethnic problem into India, a vital factor which has to be considered is the growth of chauvinist, Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu which assumed secessionist overtones. It was the climate created and painstakingly cultivated by a section of Indian Tamil chauvinists in Tamil Nadu which was brazenly exploited by Sri Lankan Tamil groups by infiltrating into the state and consolidating themselves. The ambivalent attitude of the Central Government in face of such a sensitive socio- cultural issue further facilitated this. This factor has been briefly dealt with here and examined in details later.

Geographical, Historical and Cultural Factors which bind India and SriI Lanka

5 Historically, India and Sri Lanka have been linked closely together by ethnic, cultural and emotional bonds. Shri Salman Haider, Foreign Secretary of India, in his affidavit before the Commission has stated: (Aff. No. 343/96-JCI)

Para 6(i)

"Sri Lanka and India have been linked together through bonds of common culture, ethnicity, religion, language, geographical proximity and shared historical legacy dating back to two millennia and more..."

5.1 Shri M. Karunanidhi, leader of the DMK and Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and a political personality, who had been championing the cause of the Dravidian movement of Tamil Nadu since its early days, during his deposition before the Commission, has inter- alia, thrown light on the extremely close affinity between the Sri Lankan Tamils and Indian Tamils. In his deposition dated 22nd. November 1996, he stated:

"India and Sri Lanka are geographically very closely located. Prior to independence, during the British rule, the Collector of Thanjavur was administering the affairs of the Sri Lanka's Jaffna District / peninsula. The distance between India and Sri Lanka is so small that if one stands in Kodikarai, Point Calimere of Thanjavur, he can see the lights of Kankesanthurai in Jaffna. The distance between India and Sri Lanka is within about 20 Kms."

The geographical proximity was not the only dominant consideration for the affinity; the close cultural and linguistic ties were equally strong bonds between the two countries as is evident from the following excerpt of Shri Karunanidhi's deposition:

"I remember when I was in my village, the artists and dramatists from Tamil Nadu used to go to Jaffna and perform there. Whenever good cinemas were going on in Tamil Nadu, people from Jaffna used to come to Tamil Nadu for seeing the cinemas."

Over a period of time, these close religious, cultural, linguistic, geographical and ethnic ties led to such a high degree of identification between the Tamils of Sri Lanka and those of India that the policies of the Sinhala dominated Government of Sri Lanka became unpalatable to the Indian Tamils owing to their blatantly discriminatory tilt against Sri Lankan Tamil minorities.

Genesis of Ethnic Strife in Sri Lanka

6. The genesis of the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka is, in a sense, traceable to the nature of the British Colonial rule. The perceived grievance of the majority Sinhalese community that the Tamil minority had by virtue of its access to English education come to occupy a disproportionate share of Government jobs, led to attempts by the Sinhalese majority to redress this perceived imbalance after Sri Lanka gained independence on the 4th February 1948. The first such attempt to words this direction was the Sinhala only movement. In 1951, in the parliament, SWRD Bandaranaike insisted that the Government of Sri Lanka take an unequivocal stand on the issues of official language and status of Buddhism as a religion. Following this, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), in 1954, took up these issues and demanded that Sinhala be declared the sole official language of Sri Lanka. In December 1955, the SLFP adopted the "Sinhala Only" resolution. The other Sinhala dominated political party, UNP, joined the issue and adopted this resolution in February 1956.

6.1 The year 1956 saw one of the first major anti-Tamil pogroms which resulted in hardening of the stances of both sides.

6.2 Shri P.V. Narsimha Rao, former Prime Minister of India, during his deposition before the Commission, has enumerated the various factors responsible for this ethnic strife in Sri Lanka. In his deposition dated 7th. May, 1997, he stated :-

"The Jaffna Tamils were much more advanced, much more educated and much more influential. After independence, the majority Sinhala community felt that they had been suppressed by the minority Tamils for their natural rights. On the other side, the question of language figured at that time and when Sinhala was sought to be made the official language, that was resented to by the Tamilians. They were having equal status with Sinhalese earlier. After independence, power equation underwent a radical change. The relations between the two sections became very strained. ..... mThe Government was run by the Sinhalese and Tamils had less say in the governance of Sri Lanka.Because of ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, refugees had started pouring into our country. Tamils living in India have blood relations with Sri Lankan Tamils and so atrocities committed in Sri Lanka against the Tamils, the feelings in them were exacerbated on account of ethnic conflict. "

6.3 On this issue, Shri M. Karunanidhi, during his deposition before the Commission stated on 26th February, 1997 as follows :-

"It is a fact that in Sri Lanka, Sinhalese are in majority and Tamilians are in minority . Trouble started when the Tamilians felt that they were not being treated equally. In the beginning there were peaceful protests for realisation of their rights. The Sri Lankan Government was in favour of Sinhalese and constituted by Sinhalese only. Because of violent attacks and atrocities on Tamilians they had to take shelter in Tamil Nadu. They had nothing for their self defence with them. They were rendered homeless. Right from 1956, there was great sympathy in Tamil Nadu for Sri Lankan Tamils."

6.4 The culmination of the efforts to give Sinhala language a pre-eminent status came when the "Official Language Bill" was introduced in the Sri Lankan Parliament June 5th, 1956. The Bill was enacted as the "Official Language Act No. 33." of 1956.

6.5 The Act was aimed at effectively ending the domination of Tamils in the bureaucracy and preventing them from regaining any position of dominance in future. The Act envisaged imposition of sanctions on Tamil candidates seeking School admissions and Tamil was removed from its status as one of the official languages of the country. The Act, thus, resulted in the pendulum swinging the other way with Tamils being reduced virtually to the position of second-class citizens.

6.6 At this stage, in India, the perception of victimisation of the Sri Lankan Tamils became sharper especially in the minds of those Indian Tamils who were engaged in promoting the concept of Dravidianism. Shri M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister Tamil Nadu, in his deposition dated 22nd. November, 1996, has thrown light on the perception of Indian Tamils on this ongoing strife at that time :-

"After Ceylon became independent, it used to be called Sri Lanka. Lots of political changes took place in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka also promulgated a law that the official language in Sri Lanka would be only Sinhala. There was discrimination in giving education to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Unless they secure high marks they were not further encouraged in education. Since Buddhism is the religion of Sinhalese, non - Buddhists like Tamils and Muslims were compelled to say in their prayers 'Buddham Saranam Gachhami'. A law was made that the prefix 'Sri' should be written on the vehicles and the boards. The Sinhalas were deliberately brought into Tamil areas and were settled there. This was opposed by Sri Lankan Tamil leaders like Chelvanayagam and Amirthalingam."

6.7 Tamil sentiments, hitherto moderate, were being voiced by the "Federal Party" led by SJV Chelvanayagam. The party was demanding better rights for Tamils within the constitutional framework of the country. On June 5th, 1956, while the Sri Lankan Parliament assembled to debate on the enactment of "Sinhala Only" Act, a peaceful demonstration was organised by the Federal Party near the Parliament. The demonstrators were set upon by hundreds of organised Sinhala fanatics musclemen. In the rioting which followed, the innocent Sri Lankan Tamil civilians were the main targets who were traumatised by acts of arson, vandalism, murder and rape.

6.8 Subsequent half-hearted measures aimed at assuaging Tamil sentiments could never succeed as the Sinhala chauvinism was always the vital decisive factor in all elections. The developments of this period have been briefly touched upon by Shri M. Karunanidhi in his deposition dated 22nd. November, 1996, as follows :-

" Chelvanayagam was known in Sri Lanka as Gandhi of Ceylon, he was a Tamilian. Because of his non violent activities Chelvanayagam - Bandaranayake Accord came into being in 1957. That Accord was never implemented. The important clause of the Accord was that Tamils and Tamil language will be given importance in equal level with Sinhalese. Because the Accord was not implemented, there were frequent clashes between the Sinhala community and the Tamil community and this activity grew till 1982."

6.9 Ms Anita Pratap, a journalist, who extensively covered the Sri Lankan ethnic problem, deposed before the Commission on the various facets of the problem. In her deposition dated 16th. August, 1996, she stated :-

"Sri Lankan population consists of Sinhalese, Buddhists and Tamilians. Tamilian population is about 12 percent and Sinhalese population is also more than 70 percent.... Sri Lankan Tamilians have affinity towards Tamilians in India....The Tamil problem in Sri Lanka existed even in the seventies. In fact it goes much earlier. First was in 1958. in Sri Lanka. There were atrocities of Sinhalese Army towards Tamils. The Sri Lankan Army constituted of Sinhalese and Sri Lankan Govt. was also constituted by the Sinhalese Buddhists. The refugee camps in India was a burden on India."

6.10 Details of the developments have been documented in the book captioned INDO SRI LANKAN RELATIONS by Ravi Kant Dubey in CHAPTER 4 : ISSUES THAT DIVIDE TAMILS AND SINHALESE and are reproduced below :-

Page 68:-

"The tension between the two ethnic groups was rising. Prime Minister Bhandaranaike had discussion with leader of th Federal Party Mr. Chelvanayakan and they signed a pact on July 27, 1957. which is known as Bhandaranaike -Chelvanayakam Pact . According to the pact following facts emerged:

i) The Prime Minister was not to discuss anything about setting up of a Federal constitution or regional autonomy or to abrogate Official Language Act.

ii) He agreed to recognise Tamil as the language of national minority of Ceylon and it be made the language of administration in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

iii) He also assured that the question of citizenship to the people of Indian origin would be given early consideration.

iv) The Prime Minister also conceded the Tamil demand for establishing Regional Council in the North and the East provinces. Since council would have powers over subjects like agriculture, cooperative,lands and development, colonisation, education, health, industries, fishery,housing, social server, electricity, water scheme and road. The power of taxation was also to be devolved to such regional council.

v) It was agreed regarding colonisation scheme that the Regional council would have power to select allottees to whom lands within their area of jurisdiction be alienated and power to select persons be employed for work on such scheme.

Though the pact was not accepted by the Tamils as the final solution but took it as a temporary adjustment as it granted concession to Tamil.

Some people believe that had the pact been turned into an Act of Parliament the story of Sinhala - Tamil relation would have been different. But leaders of the right wing Sinhala politics and some Tamil leaders put obstacles in implementing the pact.

The UNP leader under the leadership of S.R. Jayawardene organised a march from Colombo to Kandy to protest against the pact. Various Buddhist groups brought pressure on the Prime Minister Bhandarnaike against the pact. They termed it as an act of treach against the Sinhala nation and as the first step towards setting up of a separate state,

Tamil leaders who were defeated in 1956 criticised the Federal party for surrendering to the Sinhalas. The Tamil leaders who were cooperating with Sinhala also began to demand federal form and regional autonomy. The Federal party called off is plan to agitate. Now, it is turn of Sinhala to agitate for abrogation of the pact. They staged a sit in demonstration in front of the PM residence, even his cabinet colleagues pressurised him. Finally, he abrogated the pact unilaterally.

An ethnic riots followed the Government was forced to declare an emergency and the riots were quelled within a week. Leaders of both sides were put under house arrest. The Government under the cover of emergency passed an Act in September 1958, providing many concessions to the Tamils, such as reasonable use of Tamil for prescribed purposes, right of the Tamil people to be taught in Tamil language at all levels, right to take public service examination in Tamil language with sufficient knowledge of Sinhala, Tamils to correspond with Government official in Tamil or of any local authority in the Northern and Eastern province. They will not prejudice the use of official language in respect of prescribed purpose.

The Tamils complained that 1958 Act has clearly side tracked the major issue of forming Regional Council and the stopping of Sinhala Colonisation of the Tamil Area.

The old practice of sharing political power with Tamils was given up. For the first time, Tamils were not included in the Cabinet between 1956-64. In 1965, no single party got clear majority. The UNP had to secure support of the Federal Party of Tamils, to form a coalition Government. Naturally, another agreement between Dudley Senanayake and Chelvanyayakan was signed. It was on the basis of earlier Bhandaranaike Chelvanayakan agreement. The Pact was signed on 24 March 1965 a day before D.S.Senanayake was sworn in as Prime Minister. The Pact did not mention anything about provincial or Regional Council, but Tamils were assured about formation of District Council giving Tamil language a special position and restrict colonisation of Tamil areas by Sinhala.

As expected the SLFP denounced the agreement. The Communist Party and the Lanka Sama Samaj Party joined SLFP in starting strong ethnic campaign against the Tamil.

A regulation was passed on January 11, 1996 to grant a special status to Tamil. The Federal Party for the first time in ten years celebrated the Independence Day of Sri Lanka on 4th February 1966. This regulation made Tamil virtually the official language in the Northern and Eastern provinces. The continuing tension between the Sinhala and Tamils was easing. Though the Federal Party came out of the coalition in April, 1969 yet it supported D.S.Senanayake Government. Tamils and Sinhala collaborative politics continued and the overall atmosphere of ethnic goodwill prevailed.

In 1970 election, UNP was defeated and SLFP and its leftist allies came back to power. In this election, ethnic question was not given prominence as it was done in 1956. The Tamils were sincerely in a conciliatory mood. Both parties of Tamils, i.e., the Federal Party and the Tamil Congress had voted in favour of the plan and for a Constituent Assembly to frame a new constitution.

Then again in 1971, language issue was raised in the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly debated the issue for four days. The Federal party leader, Novaratnam made an appeal that this issue be discussed in a Round Table Conference of leaders of all the political parties.

He was of the view that the Constituent Assembly was not the proper place, where amicable solution to the language problem could be solved. They i.e., the Federal Party, also placed certain demand to be incorporated in the constitution.

The constitution framer ignored all these demands and when the 1972 constitution was put into effect the Tamils observed this day as a day of mourning."

6.11 The enactment of a new Republican constitution in 1972 made Sinhala the official language of Sri Lanka and conferred a special status to Buddhism. It was through this constitution that on May 22nd, 1972, the island became a Republic and was officially named as Sri Lanka.

6.11.1 The Republic of Sri Lanka, as it emerged in 1972, had not taken into account any of the Tamil aspirations. Immediately after the new constitution came into force, the Federal Party (FP) amalgamated with the Tamil Congress (TC) and Ceylon Workers Congress(CWC) to form Tamil United Front (TUF) - an umbrella under which all major Tamil parties united to struggle. On October, 2nd, 1972 ( birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi ), the TUF launched a resistance campaign and hoisted the Tamil flag - the rising sun . The Sri Lankan Government took a tough stand and the campaign ended on a violent note.

6.11.2 S.C. Chandrahasan is the son of SJV Chelvanayagam, the leader of the `Federal Party'. He is presently based in Madras and is engaged in efforts to safeguard the human rights of Sri Lankan Tamils. He deposed before the Commission on 22nd. August and 2nd. September, 1996. In his deposition, he has narrated the situation prevailing in Sri Lanka during this time as follows:-

" I was the legal secretary of Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF). During that period I had large number of civil rights cases and organised the society by the name Protection of Eelam Tamils from Genocide and other violations of Human rights ( PROTEG). We defended number of young Tamils who were charged with offences and also took up matters before the High Court where persons were detained beyond the period of 24 hours without being produced in a Court of Law. The initial period of Tamil Struggle was entirely democratic and non violent.

Upto about 1970 it was so. In the year 1971 there was an insurrection on the Sinhalese side. Lot of persons (Sinhalese) who were involved were taken into custody. And some young Tamils who were charged against offences were also taken into custody and were lodged with Sinhalese. During that period I made an appeal to the Secretary of Justice that they should not be kept together because the non violence struggle had started by the Tamils might change into violent struggle. After about six months the State authorities did agree, but by that time I had noticed that damage had been done.

From about 1972, more and more acts of violence on the part of Tamil Units were noticed. The Tamil Leaders working on the Democratic side were losing control. Other organisations like TELO, LTTE, PLOTE believed that violent means would bring about settlement of ethnic question. The democratic side was represented by TULF. It was a combination of all Tamil political parties in Tamil areas. The TULF resolved its goal in its Convention in 1976, that they would fight for a separate independent Tamil Eelam. Other Tamil militant Organisations also had the same goal.

In 1972, the Democratic Parties TULF made a basic demand of six points short of independent Eelam. The request made in respect of six points were not even acknowledged until 1975. Mr.Chelvanayagam, my father was the leader of the Democratic parties, including TULF resigned his Parliamentary seat in 1972 requesting the Govt. to have the matter resolved through votes. But the Govt did not hold elections for three years. My father was the Treasurer of the Federal Party which was the main constituent of TULF. My father entered into a first agreement historically known as Bhandarnaike Chelvanayagam pact of 1957. Bhandarnaike was the leader of SLFP (Sri Lanka Freedom Party). Against this Pact there was an uprising led by Buddhists priests provoked by Jayawardhane who was the Leader of Opposition UNP Party.

This opposition finally culminated into surrounding of the Prime Ministers house by 2000 Buddhist priests and they insisted that he comes out and tear the Pact. Finally Shri Bhandaranaike had to do that. In 1960 there were two agreements which were not reduced into writing. United National Party won the election but did not command majority. In order to get the support of the Party led by my father, they made an agreement with my father.

Again due to the opposition by the Chief Buddhist priest, UNP withdrew from its promises and dissolved the Parliament. In July SLFP came into power they again made certain promises and agreed and Mr.Bhandarnaike was shot dead by a priest and Mrs. Bhandarnaike came to power. She was elected in July 1960 and she promised to restore Bhandarnaike Chelvanayagam Pact. She again at the persistence of Buddhist priest withdrew from the Agreement. In 1965 a Pact was entered into known as Senanayake Chelvanayagam pact. This again was between UNP and my father. Mrs. Bhandarnaike led the Buddhist priest in protest and Senanayake withdrew from the Pact.

In 1977 there was an election. The TULF persuaded the militants to accept the non- violent process and put forward the manifesto of TULF and wanted to vote the Tamils for the against thereby give a mandate to the Tamil United Front. All Tamil militant organisations agreed for this. And the Election was fought on that basis. Tamil areas overwhelmingly voted for the mandate.

Jayawardene came as the Prime Minister with a overwhelming victory on the Sinhalese side. Within two weeks of the election the Sinhalese extremist forces precipitated it a Pogrom against the Tamils. It was a group manipulated by them against the group. UNP was behind it. Jayawardene's speech over the radio made the violence spread all round the Island in the Sinhalese areas. More than about hundred thousand Tamils were rendered homeless and many thousands were killed. That was a very bitter pogrom that went on.

Jayawardene's words were that I do not say so, but Sinhalese say if the Tamils want peace, they may have peace, if they want war, they will have war. Within minutes of this broadcast, the whole island was in flames. The impact of this pogrom was that, Tamil militant groups took the decision that democracy and non violence will not work and they must start a violent process to win their rights.

For the first time I came to India in 1977 for medical reasons.... The Tamil militants started coming to India in the years 1973/74. That was the period Sri Lankan Govt. was arresting Activist Tamil Youths. Most of them had not their militant thoughts but gradually they were involved in that. So they had to run away from the Sri Lankan Govt.

Most of the youths started writing on the wall and Prabhakaran was one of them. They made protests when they had put up a Lion's flag in a school. It was in that connection when he was wanted, he came to India. He came to India at the age of 13 or 14. Thereafter he was moving up and down, that is visiting the Island and coming to India. In mid seventies Prabhakaran shaped an organisation in the form of LTTE.

Initially both Prabhakaran and Uma Maheswaran joined it, they were in the same organisation. In 1980 they fell out and there was a possibility of shoot-out. They were both in Madras. Differences surfaced in a meeting and then they fell out. In 1980 they were persuaded not to indulge in violence against each other. In 1980 I was able to influence both of them. No Indian leader was involved at that time in this persuasion to my knowledge. Both the groups started building up in the Island. There was so much repression in the Island against Tamils by the Govt. From every family young Tamils started joining some groups."

6.12 On January 10, 1974, during the fourth "International Conference of Tamil Research" held in Jaffna, the police used force to disperse nearly 100,000 Tamils. This led to the electrocution of people and a massive stampede, which killed eight and injured many. The popular feeling in the Tamil dominated areas was that those who lost their lives were national heroes-a monument was built in their honour.

These developments gave a fresh impetus to the youth in the party to take up arms. A new chapter in the history of Sri Lankan Tamil struggle began with the formation of Tamil New Tigers (TNT) - a purely militant outfit, which was seen as the strong arm of the TUF. The TNT leader was Chetty Thanabalasingham, and V. Prabhakaran was one of its important members of the TNT when it was formed. The TNT was responsible for several terrorist acts in Sri Lanka. The most important being the assassination of Mayor of Jaffna on July 5, 1975.

6.13 The Tamil United Front (TUF) spearheading the Tamil demands was forced under the circumstances to further harden their stand. In a conference on May 14th, 1976, at Vaddukodai, the party changed its name to "Tamil United Liberation Front" and passed the following resolution :-

"We are hereby committed to the restoration and re-constitution of the Free, Sovereign Secular Socialist State of Tamil Elam based on the right of self-determination inherent in every nation. This has become inevitable to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka."

6.14 This heralded the beginning of a violent era when Tamil militancy legitimised its existence and drew support from various quarters in a serious process of arming and training in Sri Lankan Tamil youth. During the period 1976-1979, the Tamil militants carried out several assassinations and other terrorist acts.

6.15 In July 1979, faced with mounting acts of terrorism Government of Sri Lanka introduced new laws to combat terrorism. The most drastic of these was known as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The PTA was seen as an Act encroaching upon human rights and many who were dedicated to upholding democratic ideals campaigned against it protesting against the possibility of political abuse of the wide ranging powers granted under the PTA. The militant activities of the Tamil youth, however, continued unabated inviting swift and disproportionate reprisals from the Sri Lankan law enforcers.

6.16 S.C. Chandrahasan, in his deposition before the Commission given on 2nd. September, 1996, narrates how all efforts were made by the moderate sections of the Sri Lankan Tamils to arrive at an amicable solution. He states :-

"In 1976 at the Vaddukottai convention, my father did mention we took all possible steps to live with the Sinhalese but they have not shown any keenness to live with Tamils. We have no option except to ask for a separate Tamil Eelam. He was a convinced non- violent politician. There was continued oppression on the Tamil people that was the reason for demanding separate Tamil Eelam. "

S.C Chandrahasan further stated that :-

"I was in the Tamil United Liberation Front and thereafter since I am in India I am working in the two organisations PROTEG and OFERR (Organisation for Eelam Refugees Rehabilitation ). In the early stages we did feel that the militant organisations also play a positive role. After the time when they started killing innocent civilians we began to criticise them and tried to correct them. We have been criticising every militant organisation. TULF did lose predominance basically because due to the amendment of the Constitution they could not function as a Parliamentary Political party."

6.17 This indicates that although a section of the Sri Lankan Tamils, who were hitherto the representatives of the majority of the Tamil population continued to earnestly strive for a peaceful solution, the repeated provocative actions of the Sri Lankan Government as well as the increasingly intolerant attitude of the emerging Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups gradually led to a worsening situation which could not be retrieved. Due to repeated acts of violence against the Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka and the popularly perceived insensitivity on part of the Sri Lankan Government, even peace loving moderate Tamils hardened their attitude, and, in face of repeated atrocities by Sri Lankan Security forces on them, started looking up to the Tamil militant elements engaged in the struggle for self determination, as their 'saviours'.

6.18 The Sri Lankan Government continued to hold secret negotiations with the TULF and these negotiations led to the creation of the District Development Council (DDCs). In June 1981, there were elections to the District Development Council of Jaffna. On the event of the elections, the police and the Tamil youth clashed and the police burnt the TULF headquarters in Jaffna, the Jaffna public library, and the residence of V.Yogeswaran, the Member of Parliament for Jaffna.

6.19 The burning of the Jaffna Library, which had over 97,000 books and was one of the finest in South Asia, was condemned by many within and outside Sri Lanka as a dastardly crime; The 1981 anti-Tamil riots ushered in a violent era- a period which some Tamil militants dominating over the moderates while the public in general perceived a separate Tamil State as the only viable solution to the problem.

6.20 P.Nedumaran, a leader of the Tamil Nadu Kamaraj Congress (TNKC), who has been a leading supporter of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu, has narrated this incident and the concern it caused in his Affidavit No.87/93-JCI filed before the Commission. According to him :-

 Para-3 ".....the Eelam problem got the attention of the Indian people as well as the International arena when the Jaffna library was burnt by the Sri Lankan army on June 31, 1981 and the resulting attacks on Tamils. During October, 1981, I had been to the Riot hit Tamil areas of Sri Lanka to ascertain the facts and materials. At Sri Lanka I met Mr.A Amirthalingam, the Sri Lankan Minister Mr.Thondaman and other leaders and submitted a report to the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Mr.M.G.Ramachandran (known as M.G.R.) (Annexure No.1). Immediately an all party delegation including myself under the leadership of Mr.M.G.R. met Mrs. Gandhi at New Delhi on 07.12.1981 and submitted a petition. On 19.09.1982, I moved a resolution in the Tamil Nadu legislature which sought the cancellation of the death sentence on the Tamil youth leaders Thangadurai and Kuttimani and the same was unanimously passed."

6.21 At this stage, it appears that the concerns of India with regard to the ethnic crisis were manifold. Besides the issue of refugees, this continuing ethnic conflict was was also posing a potential danger to the national security of India. This has been brought out by former Prime Minister, Shri P.V. Narsimha Rao during his deposition before the Commission on 7th. May, 1997. He stated :-

"The Indian Govt had to organise and establish refugee camps and had to spend money on them. It was the concern of the Govt that the refugees may leave and go back to Sri lanka and peace be restored there. That could only happen when political solution could be made of the problem. We were all engaged in this solution of ethnic problem.

Our security angle was also there. That was an important factor in our consideration. We stood for a unified Sri Lanka within which both communities could live peacefully. This how we got into the political aspect of it, security aspect of it and cultural aspect of it.

Diego Garcia was the American Base and from there they were operating surveillance activities. It was concern for our national security. The institution of Voice of America was established in Sri Lanka. It became part of the Accord and under the Accord it was to be closed. Something was to be done which was our concern.

If India would not have intervened, two or three things could have happened. Sri Lankan President would have approached Pakistan, Mossad of Israel to go to their help. That would have been dangerous to us. No one could have understood the problem as clearly as we could. They would have simply taken the law and order situation and nothing beyond that. One does not know what else option could have been adopted by Sri Lankan Govt. We had some such information that Sri Lankans were having dialogue with them. They were giving out that they were not depending on India alone; they would look elsewhere.

Our policy towards Sri Lanka was the same throughout. We stood for the unity of Sri Lanka within which both the communities would have their own say. We wanted their good neighbourliness."

6.21.1 These considerations, among others , also find a place in Annexure I enclosed with the affidavit of P. Nedumaran which is a report presented by him to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu after a nine day tour to Sri Lanka from September 27 1981 to October 6, 1981. This is a contemporaneous document which graphically describes the prevailing situation in Sri Lanka at that time and also attempts to trace the genesis of the problem. Most of the arguments incorporated in the report are based on actual data and its interpretation. Events, as they unfolded at that time, have also been recorded in the report. This report , therefore, can be relied upon for the limited objective of tracing the sequence of events as they occurred in Sri Lanka at that time. Relevant portions of the report are reproduced below :-

"Sri Lanka Tamils Problem: A Shocking Revelation"

"The following is the brief report on the problems of Sri Lanka-Tamils presented by Sri P.Nedumaran, M.A., M.L.A., President Tamil Nadu Congress Party(K), in the All party Leaders Meeting convened by the Hon. Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri M.G.Ramachandran, on October 6, 1981 at Madras. The report is based on facts obtained through personal investigation during Sri P.Nedumaran's extensive tour from September 27, to October 6, 1981 in the trouble-torn areas of Sri Lanka where Tamil community are predominant.

"For the greatest crime of man Is that he was born"

I visited Jaffna (Eelam) and parts of hill areas in Sri Lanka where Tamilian Plantation worker live predominantly in order to console the afflicted on behalf of the people of Tamil Nadu. I had many opportunities to witness the extensive damage done to their properties in various places.

I had talks with Sri A.Amirdalingam, leader of the opposition in Sri Lankan Parliament and also President of the Tamil United Liberation Front,(TULF) Hon. Minister Sri Thondaiman, Tamil members of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, President of the District Development Councils, Professors of University students, lawyers, doctors, religious leaders, teachers, trade union leaders and Government employees and acquired personal knowledge of the calamities and shocking events unleashed during the recent riots. I also had discussions with the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Sri Abraham, on the afflictions caused by the racial carnage.

During the 1977 riots the Eelam Tamils bore the brunt of the attack. It was singularly aimed at them resulting in heavy loss of life. On the contrary, the recent riots, during May, June, July and August, in 1981, were aimed at destruction of the economic power of the Tamils of Indian origin. The shops, estates, farms, factories, hotels and residences owned by the Tamils of Indian origin suffered total destructions with the aim to uproot them. The Sinhala chauvinists burnt down to ashes the Jaffna library, a proud possession of the Tamils, with the view to annihilate the Tamil culture. It reminds one of the destruction of the great library by the Gauls at Alexandria, the seat of Oriental civilization and of the Byzantine Library, the rendezvous of the great civilizations of the East and the West, by the turks.

The recent riots were carried on with the connivance of the Sri Lankan army and police. The Jaffna areas looked deserted. The Sri Lankan army took over law and order. A ban on the possession of arms was enforced only on the Tamilian areas. Any one in possession of arms carried the risk of capital punishment. A large number of Tamil youths were taken into custody under the pretext of enquiry. A separate unit of the army was engaged to hunt after the Tamil youths branding them as terrorists. Since emergency was in force no appeal could be made in a court of law. The Sri Lankan army turned out to be the worst perpetrators of violence abhorrent to human civilization. The atrocities committed by the Pakistani army in Bangla Desh are a parallel to the crimes indulged in by the Sri Lankan Army on the Tamils of Indian origin and of Eelam.

Since the Tamils are feared as Security risk their entry into the army and police force is severely restricted. They constitute a negligible number both in the army and police forces as shown below:- Total Nmber Number of Tamils Police 17,000 476

Army 11,000 220

Navy 2,000 20

Air Force 6,000 6

Reasons for the Riots

Of the many reasons that triggered off the terrible riots the most significant one was the Srimavo- Shastry Pact. Racial riots were resorted to by the government-machinery to create on exigency for mass exodus of the Tamils of Indian origin as the Srimavo-Shastry Pact was on the brink of expiry. Secondly, the dreadful actions like dacoity, murder and arson committed on the Eelam Tamils by the army and police forces on the eve of the elections to the District Development Councils with the view to defeat the Tamil United Liberation Front lit the fire of civil anarchy. It was kept alive by the infuriated speeches by the, Sinhala members and ministers in the Parliament on the occasion of the no-confidence motion moved against Sri A.Amirdalingam, M.P., and leader of the TULF. These speeches were later printed and distributed among the Sinhala people to induce racial discrimination and riots. The immediate cause for the recent riot was the new grading system introduced by the Government to tamper with the marks of the Tamil students. The computors considerably slashed down the high marks secured by the Tamil students to deny admissions to professional courses and higher studies. The ultimate goal of these riots was to reduce the Eelam Tamils to a passive minority by forcing the Tamils of Indian origin to opt for voluntary repatriation.


The economic policy of the Sri Lankan Government was lopsided. The guiding spirit of their developmental programme was to liquidate the economic power of the Tamils. Tamil areas were completely ignored in the execution of planed development. Permissions were not granted to the Tamils to start new industries with foreign aid. The Government of Sri Lanka had also transferred some of the major industries located in Tamil districts to Sinhala majority areas. For example, it has been proposed to transfer 'SI-NOR' project, a fourteen year old fishing scheme aided by Norway, from the Jaffna District to a Sinhala area. Another example of racial discrimination was the irrational distribution of foreign relief-funds when Sri Lanka was hit by Cyclone in 1979. Mattakalapu, recently known as Batticaloa in Sinhalese was completely devastated and Polanaruva suffered minor damage. In the distribution of funds, Mattakalapu, a Tamil dominated area, received only 20% of the funds and the rest was spent on Polanaruva, a Sinhala dominated area.

Such discriminations in their economic policy forced the Tamils to depend on agriculture which was deliberately ignored to suppress them socially. There has been no execution of new irrigation scheme. Repair works in the irrigation tanks in the Tamilian areas have been neglected since long. Tamil agricultures were made to suffer further loss by importing the same products that they produced.

Education and Employment

A more significant damage was done in the field of education. The Tamilian schools were neglected. They suffered for want of adequate staff and funds. Quite a large number of posts are not filled because Tamilian teachers are normally denied teaching positions.

The grading system introduced recently did real havoc. With the help of computors, the authorities rigged the marks, of Tamilian students by fraudulent devices in order to block admissions to professional courses. Such measures ultimately led to massive unemployment problem among Tamils. While nearly 5,000 Sinhalese were employed in a Sinhala constituency only 200 Tamils alone could secure jobs due to lack of job opportunities in a Tamil constituency.

Language and Employment

The 1956 Sinhala Official Language Act brought constrains on Tamils. It affected the promotional opportunities of Tamils in Government services and limited their job opportunities. Annual increments of Tamil Officers in Government services were stopped to force them learn Sinhalese. In Schools Sinhalese was made compulsory. The narrow language policy of Sri Lanka deprived the minority Tamils from entering government services and made them secondary citizens. The Statistics provided below show the dwindling number of Tamils in government services since 1956.

Pecentage of Tamils in Employment


Year                            1956, 1965, 1970 __________________________________________________

Administration            30%, 20%, 5%
Postal, Railway, Medical 50%, 20%, 5%
Lectures                             60%, 30%, 10%
Army                                     40%, 20%, 1%
Unskilled & Semiskilled 45%, 25%, 5% labourers


The official language Act created a wave of reaction Consequent on this an agreement was reached between the leaders of TULF and former Sri Lankan Premier, Bandarnaike. Later a special act assuring the use of Tamil in the administration to a reasonable extent was passed in 1958. This Act has not been implemented till date. In the meanwhile another act was passed in 1960 making Sinhalese the only court language. in 1961, contra to the previous agreements, Sinhalese was made the only official language of Sri Lanka.

This policy to a very large extent minimised the chances of Tamilians getting employment in the public and private sectors. The following table provides details about the number of Tamilians in government services in 1980.


Total Number

Recruited Tamils __________________________________________________

C.A.S 140 - (on a par with I.A.S.in India)

Senior Govt. Officers 93 4

A.M.D.O. 480 7 (Pharmacists & Radiographers)

Trainees in Survey 318 5 Graduate Teachers 1,000 - Assistants in G.A.D. 1,000 2 Teachers 17,000 700 __________________________________________________

Continuous Efforts to Annihilate the Tamil Race

During the last 33 years the Government of Sri Lanka has been promulgating acts to annihilate the 35 lakh Tamil community. This policy has been given acceleration through racial violence and administrative hurdles. The citizenship right, economy and culture of the Tamils have been stifled systematically through successive attempts.

The Tamils of Indian origin lost their citizenship when the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1948. Again by the Indo-Pakistan Citizenship Act 95% of the Tamils of Indian origin became stateless.

The official Language Act passed in 1956 made it impossible for Tamils to get in to government services and also affected the prospects of those in service.

The Srimavo-Lal Bahadur Shastri Pact signed in 1964 put the axe at the root of the Infra structure of the Tamil plantation labourers. The compromise reached between Dudly Senanayake and leaders of the TULF in 1965 after a protest was given up later to pacify the Sinhala chauvinists.

In 1961 Sri Lanka became a republic and subsequently Sinhalese became the official language. Buddhism was declared the national religion. As a result admissions to higher education and scholarships were made freely available to Sinhalese and Buddhists.

Dwindling Representation in the Parliament

Freedom day arrived on February 4,1948. Political power was transferred from London to Colombo; Parliament had proportionate representation: 29 Tamils, 8 Muslims, 6 Minority, 58 Sinhalese making a total of 191. Constitution guaranteed safe guards to Tamils and other minorities (both religious and linguistic) against a Sinhala majority rule. The electoral laws introduced in 1948 deprived 10 Lakh Tamils of Indian origin of their suffrage. As a result 8 Tamils lost their membership and in their place Sinhalese were elected.In 1956 another act was passed reducing the number to 20. In 1956 the number was again reduced to 19 and the number of Sinhalese representation was raised to 73.

In 1960 the number of Tamils in the Parliament of Sri Lanka was once again reduced to 18 and the Sinhala representation rose to 78. In 1971 a further increase in Sinhala representation was effected by which the number shop up to 124 where as the representation of Tamils was limited to 29. Through these amendments the Sinhala representation in the Sri Lanka Parliament has been increased without any rationale; but due representation to the Tamil population.

Sinhalisation Plan

In addition to the acts passed in the Sri Lanka Parliament to deprive the Tamils of Indian origin of their suffrage, the government encouraged Sinhalese to migrate in large number to areas traditionally occupied by the Tamils to force them a minority; It was done with a view to minimise the political strength of the Tamils. Later his policy was also extended to Eelam area.

Repair works were carried out in the irrigation tanks in the Northern and Eastern Provinces were Tamils lived predominantly, to repatriate thousands of sinhalese with substantial aid from the government funds. Under the 'Kolloya Rehabilitation Scheme' Sinhalese were settled in areas traditionally occupied by Tamils with the support and backing of the Sri Lanka Government. For example, in Amparai, a part of Matakalappu district, nearly thirty thousands Sinhala families were settled and all facilities were given to them freely. As a result Matakalappu was bifurcated into two to form a new district called Deha-madulla to create a Sinhala constituency. A similar migration was encouraged in Trincomalle, another traditional Tamil area. Trincomalle was a full Tamil dominated area and now it is a Sinhala majority area with many Sinhalese Housing Units established by the Government of Sri Lanka. The main objective behind this policy was to convert the Tamil areas into Sinhalese dominated land.

In Mannar and Vavunia districts too this process of colonisation is being continued uninterruptedly. Official impose a strict law on the Tamils in Sri Lanka to stop migration to these areas. The chart below shows the process of Sinhalisation from 1953 to 1971 in the Tamil areas.

Tamil Sinhalese Increased 1953-71 1953-71
Strength of Sinhalese Jaffna 4,77,304-6,73,043 6,183-20,402 14,219
Mattaka 1,30,381-2,46,582 31,174-94,150 62,976
llapu Trincom 37,517-73,255 15,296-55,308 46,196
Alle Puthalam 9,010-30,994 31,587-3,09,298 2,77,711

Foreign Naval Base in Trincomalee

Preliminary work for a foreign Naval Base in Trincomalle is in fast progress. Foreign warships visit Trincomalle very frequently. Elaborate arrangements have been made to harbour them and to accommodate the crew. The Government of Sri Lanka has allotted over 3000 acres of land in Trincommalle to start a foreign oil refinery and to establish a foreign broadcasting station.

Trincomalle has been a Tamilian dominated area in the past. It is now being converted into a Sinhala majority area to ensure support and Co-operation from the Sinhalese population towards the proposed foreign Naval Base.

Housing units are set up and encouragement are offered to settle as many Sinhala families as possible to boost the Sinhala population in Trincommalle.

When it was reported in the press that Oil was struck in the river basin of Cauvery in India, the Sri Lanka Government invited a foreign firm to conduct search for oil in the Talaimannar area of Sri Lanka, a few miles away and opposite to the Cauvery basin. This is in violation of Section 7 of the agreement reached between the governments of India and Sri Lanka in 1974 regarding the use of Palk strait.

The establishment of a foreign Naval Base in Trincomalle is a potential danger and a challenge to Indian security especially when India has protested against the use of Indian Ocean by the big powers."

6.22 This is a compelling report which depicts the intensity of discrimination against the ethnic Tamil minorities in Sri Lanka.

From this report, it becomes increasingly clear as to why the Indian citizens and the Government, in 1981, had to sit up and take a serious cognizance of the festering inhumanities being heaped on this ethnic minority by the Sri Lankans.

The modalities of the Indian foreign policy towards Sri Lanka during the eighties appear to have been considerably influenced by these developments in Sri Lanka, which, besides being serious violations of human rights, had a direct bearing on India's security interests in the region as well. This aspect has been dealt with in details in a separate Chapter.

6.23 The issues brought forth in the above report of Shri P. Nedumaran find corroboration in the deposition of Kasi Anandan, a member of the Central Committee of the LTTE presently based in Madras who had deposed before the Commission on 10th September 1996. In his deposition, he has summarised the situation in Sri Lanka prevailing during this period. This is a first hand account of an eyewitness directly involved in the events from the beginning. As per the deposition of Kasi Anandan :-

"Our people were very badly discriminated in Sri Lanka and there were lot of Army atrocities against the Tamils. Our young boys were missing and young ladies were raped. State sponsored colonisation of Sinhalese were taking place. We were to lose about 4000 sq.miles out of 8000 sq.miles of our homeland. The colonisation was taking place in the Eastern part of Sri Lanka, that is, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and then Amparai. This started since we gained our independence in 1948. Sinhalese language was imposed by Sinhala Only Act. This Act came into force on 5.6.1956. All the government servants were compelled to study Sinhalese language and any person seeking Government job was required to have knowledge of Sinhalese language. Tamil language was not recognised as the official language.

Amendment to the Constitution in the year 1972 had the effect on Tamils. When the TULF convention was held in 1976 at Vaddukottai, I was in prison. I was told about the resolution. Since then the TULF was for a federal State. It was resolved in the Convention that an independent Tamil Eelam should be the goal of the Tamils. There were elections in 1977. I contested the Parliamentary elections from Batticaloa. Our party put two candidates in Batticaloa. It is a multi member constituency. The other member of TULF won the election and I lost. During election campaign, I campaigned for separate Tamil Eelam. It was my decision to come to India. I could not stay there as Sri Lankan Army and intelligence were pursuing me."



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