by Veerasinghmam Anandasangaree
(Full text of a statement issued by TULF Secretary -Genera Veerasingham Anandasangaree titled ‘Open appeal to leaders of all political parties, important personalities and religious dignitaries in India)
This appeal comes as an urgent measure taken by a very senior Tamil Politician who had been in Politics for nearly sixty years, in Parliament for four terms and winner of the UNESCO’s Madenjeet Singh award for the “promotion of tolerance and non-violence”.
The message is to Tamil Naad to maintain calm and caution in dealing with the Sri Lankan ethnic problem.
Long long ago it was Mahatma Gandhi who had said that India and Sri Lanka can’t afford to quarrel. I do not say that everything is fine in Sri Lanka. There are very many concerns the Sri Lankan Tamils have. In many instances such concerns go beyond the limits of tolerance necessitating the intervention at high level. Whether we like it or not feelings between the two neighbouring countries are very much strained and at this rate the two Nations will soon face strong repercussions, before which both countries should cry, halt to this trend and take remedial measures to soon clear all misunderstandings between the two, in the best interest of both countries.
In the past I had written many letters to the Indian leaders with hardly any response from anybody, for my pleadings. The Tamils in Sri Lanka are spread all over the century more now then ever before and the concentration of the Tamil people in the North and the East of Sri Lanka is now much less than before, because of the mass exodus to the South of Sri Lanka and many leaving the country either to join their children and other relatives settled abroad or for employment. A good number of them are temporarily and some permanently settled in predominantly Sinhala villages. Those who prefer to live in their ancestral homes, live with variety of problems such as, little or no proper schooling for many of their children and for many, hardly one square meal a day. With very limited or no NGOs allowed to operate in their areas the problems had increased several fold.
If atleast the Northern Provincial Council is allowed to function or an interim administration is set up, most of the problems can be solved by the Interim Administration, The resettled IDPs are virtually starving. They were given dry provisions for six months only and some money. With limited scope for employment, there is hunger and farmine prevailing, in the Vanni District. Those who have children abroad are ok but all are not that fortunate, The only option Tamils of Sri Lanka have is to get assistance from Tamil Naad which is very close to the North. Hardly any in Tamil Naad and many in Sri Lanka know of the umbilical relationship both the Tamils and Sinhalese have with Tamil Naad. The “Mahavamsa” which the Sinhalese people believe as true record of their history, very clearly says that Vijaya, the founder of the Sinhala race took the Pandiyan Princess from Madurai in Tamil Naad as his wife and another seven hundred selected maids were sent from Madurai to be wives of the seven hundred followers of Vijaya. History has also recorded that along with this team one thousand families and several artisan families were also sent to Sri Lanka with many varieties of presents from king Pandiyan Everyone will agree that there is no fabrication in this story.
Whenever the country faced a disaster it was Tamil Naad that always rushed to Sri Lanka with aid materials. During the Tsunami we experienced the good will and abandance of aid that came first to our country from Tamil Naad. Even in the future it is going to be India with Tamil Naad that will come first. Hence under no circumstances Tamil Naad, and Sri Lankan can antagonise each other. We can’t flight each other as Mahatma said long ago. If the people of Tamil Naad want to help their brothers across the Palk Strait, who are very much in need of assistance it cannot ever be done by antagonising Sri Lanka where the people are generous, sympathetic and yeaning to live peacefully, enjoining equals rights with all the other communities What is wanted is goodwill between the two countries with proper understanding of each other.
It is in this context that I wish to point out the need for dealing with Sri Lanka cautiously if Tamil Naad wants to help their brothers in Sri Lanka, The demand to withdraw Sri Lankan Air Force personnel undergoing training in Tamil Naad appears to me as one that needs re-thinking. The Sri Lanka government had nothing to loose in his matter. I wonder whether anyone in India or in Tamil Naad in particular is aware that off and on the Chinese had offered to build more and more Army camps and fully equip them in the form of aid to Sri Lanka. The offer of the Chinese is to humiliate the Tamils, There is, absolutely no need for such assistance and any request for military aid should have been turned down. Tamils of Sri Lanka are much worried about this.
During the past three years, hundreds of mini .Army camps and many Major camps had been set up in the midst of Tamil people who had suffered in many ways during the past thirty years and lost several lives and valuable properties more particularly during the last lap of the war. In a situation like this finding, accommodation to train even one hundred thousand Airforce men in China or elsewhere is not a problem for a government. This is why I say that we need to be very cautious in this type of matters and no action taken should turn out to be counter productive.
It is therefore very necessary for Tamil Naad politicians to consult or obtain the views of moderate politicians from Sri Lanka’s North. During the past few years I had written many letters to politicians and many others like the Hon Prime Minister, Chief Ministers etc. If my advice had been taken seriously in the past Tamil Naiad’s contributions. towards finding a solution would have been immense.
It is very unfortunates that the Ex-Chief minister of Tamil Naad M. Karunanidhy, for whom with the greatest difficulty I persuaded G. G. Ponnambalam Queen’s Council to go to Chennai to defend him when his Tamil Naad Assembly was dissolved in 1976, did not get my views or advice, although he, knew me well for over 36 years from 1976. I wish to mention here that G. G. Ponnambalam’s body only came back to Sri Lanka from Singapore where he went after winning the case in Chennai.
I also wish to mention here that India should have remained neutral without supporting the American resolutions in Geneva and left it to take its own course.
In any case the resolution would have been passed and by remaining neutral the Indian government would have maintained its cordial relationship with Sri Lanka and utilised it to find a lasting solution.
How and why this situation arose is well known to everybody. I strongly urge that every step taken in Tamil Naad with regard to the Sri Lanka problem should be after very careful consultation and consideration lest they become counterproductive and detrimental to the Tamil cause