It’s election time in India and I did not want to comment on anything else. But events of Sri Lanka forced me to deviate and hence I am posting my blog about the unfolding scene in Sri Lanka and sufferings of our Tamil brethren there. I admit it is a complex issue and Indian public is prejudiced, either in favour of the Tigers, or against the Tigers.
It all started almost two decades ago. It was a movement for the independence of the northern and eastern territories of Sri Lanka, dominated by Tamils. We, north Indians, do not understand the sentiments attached to this cause and we do not know and care for the background of this struggle also.
India’s contacts with Lanka or Simhal Dweep, as Sri Lanka used to be called in pre-historic days, started with Bhagwan Ram. Lanka, the golden kingdom of mythical Ravan, was conquered by Ram and Vibhishan was anointed the new ruler. After that she remained subservient to India for a very long time. Then after a long period of hiatus, Ashoka- the- great, sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka to spread Buddhism. Lankans accepted the principles of the Buddhism and even today Buddhism is the official religion of this island nation. During British era Ceylone, as Sri Lanka was called then, was part of India. For tea plantation and several other activities Brtishers brought Tamil labourers to Ceylone and they started settling there . Ceylone never said anything against Tamil people and never ever said that they should not be brought there and cannot settle there. Our Tamil brethren toiled hard and made Ceylone a very prosperous nation. In those days Britishers were lording over Simhals and Simhals were lording over Tamils. Before the independence of India, Ceylone was made an independent nation by British with ulterior motives and that to without deciding the fate of our Tamil brethren.
After independence Ceylone tried to move away from India. She was very close to China and Pakistan. Then she started suppressing Tamil people and Tamil language. Ceylone’s name was changed to Sri Lanka and Simhales was made the national language of the nation. Later on it was made compulsory language for education. Tamils were living like a second class citizen. Buddhism, which preaches compassion, became cruel for these HinduTamils and the monks, who were supposed to be like a laughing, compassionate Buddha, became as bigot as Talibans, and forced the government to be firm with Tamils. Tamils were crushed, their protests marches were banned, cries were unheard . Buddhist monks, who were silent spectators, when Bamian Buddhas were blown to smithereens by Talibans, were very active during those days and helped the government in the humiliation and subjugation of Tamils.
Then struggle for Tamil Illam (Nation) began. L.T.T.E. and several other organisations took shape and they all started freedom movement. There were many Tamil leaders and half a dozen parties fighting for the cause. Velupillai Prabhakaran was just one of them. The movement for Illam is justified and we in India should support this cause.
Now we must understand the problem. To gain supremacy, Velupillai Prabhakaran killed each and every other Tamil leader. He finished every other party and in L.T.T.E. also, supressed all criticism and dissent with ruthless hand. He gained unquestioned supremacy and lordship over Tamil populace. And became a despot. When a naive, new and inexperienced Rajiv Gandhi was lured unnecessarily into this conflict by a willy Jayavardane, the then president of Sri Lanka, Prabhakaran, without understanding Rajiv’s motives, decided to kill him. He accomplished his aim with the help of his accomplices without caring about the repercussions. Now he is reaping the harvest.
We, in India, should and cannot forgive Velupillai Prabhakaran. He is a despot and ruthless autocrat and L.T.T.E. of today is a terrorist organization. They should be finished. But we must not forget our Tamil brothren. We are dutybound to help them. I vividly remember the atmosphere of Sri Lanka 25 years ago. Sri Lankan government, the Buddhist monks and majority Simhal population’s feelings toward Tamil minorities were enimical and they are enimical even now . Afer Prabhakaran’s elimination, Sri Lankan government, it’s army, monks and the majority Simhals will turn their fury towars the hapless Tamil populace. We can abandon Prabhakaran and L.T.T.E. but we cannot abandon our tamil brethren.
It is a complex issue and should be understood in it’s totality and with all the complexities. Tamil Tigers and Tamil people are different and should be treated differently.
Filed under: Sri Lanka