July 27 (DNA) Tamil political parties are a strange lot. The plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka seems to stir them more than the plight of Tamils in Tamil Nadu or the rest of India. This July, they found enough pretexts to ‘show concern’ for their Tamil brethren in Sri Lanka.
Close on the heels of the Union government extending the ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, the two leading Kazhagams — DMK and AIADMK — got into the act of demonstrating their loyalty to the so-called Tamil cause.
First off the mark, in mid-July, was Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa. She seized upon the fact that officers of the Sri Lankan armed forces were undergoing training in Indian defence institutions and demanded that they be sent packing. She wanted the prime minister to instruct the defence ministry to desist from providing training to Sri Lankan personnel anywhere in India; and, to send back those who were here. At that time, Sri Lankan officers were taking courses at the National Defence College, New Delhi, and the Defence Services Staff College, Coonoor.
She pointed out that the state assembly had passed a resolution last year demanding action against those charged with war crimes in Sri Lanka during the peak of internal conflict and an economic embargo by India to ensure speedy rehabilitation of displaced Tamils lodged in camps.
With the overblown rhetoric typical of Tamil parties when it comes to such issues, Jayalalithaa said: 'Tamils across the world feel that the sentiments of the Tamils have been trampled upon by the Indian government not only by its inaction on this resolution, but also by continuing to give preferential treatment by way of providing technical training to Sri Lankan defence personnel.'
Predictably then, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi had to have his 15 minutes of fame. A day after the Union government extended the ban on the LTTE and on the eve of a meeting of DMK MPs and MLAs — to discuss the presidential elections — the party drew attention to its plans for revival of the Tamil Eelam Supporters' Organisation. Partymen triggered a buzz that TESO would revive the campaign for Eelam.
That was enough to make home minister P Chidambaram come calling on Karunanidhi and request him to refrain from bringing up the Eelam demand at the TESO conference, which has been moved from August 5 to 12. This provided the perfect grandstand for Karunanidhi to enact a statesman-like charade.
'Tamil Eelam is my unfulfilled dream. But we will not adopt any resolution seeking the creation of a separate Eelam during the Chennai meeting (of TESO),' said the great man who, not too long ago, had made it known that TESO was being revived with the sole aim of achieving Eelam.
The sideshow is over, but not the questions that come to the fore every time these parties play at being champions of the human rights and democratic aspirations of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.What of the human and democratic rights of Tamils in Tamil Nadu who have been ruled by these two oppressive parties for 45 years? What of the Sri Lankan Tamil separatist forces, like the militarised, Pol Potist LTTE of slain Pirabakaran, killing Tamils in both Sri Lanka and India?
he fascist LTTE systematically exterminated not only each and every Sinhala leader but also all the Tamil leaders and all other parties and forces fighting for the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka. The LTTE was a feared force even in Tamil Nadu, where it killed former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Yet, the LTTE is never so much as criticised for these depredations by the Dravidian parties.
That's not surprising when one considers that neither the AIADMK nor the DMK have been defenders of the rights of Tamils at home.
Many progressive political forces and people in Tamil Nadu have been killed during the long years of Kazhagam rule. Scores of workers, peasants, farmers, writers, cultural activists, etc have been killed, including in so-called 'encounters.'
Dalits and tribals in Tamil Nadu are at the receiving end of casteist violence. Untouchability is rampant as is social and religious segregation of Dalits, who continue to be targets of upper caste fury. Upper caste repression of Dalits, existence of female foeticide and prevalence of manual scavenging are just a few of the regressive features of a state known, at one time, for its rationalist movements, industrial development and progressive measures.
Like charity, campaigns for democratic rights and against oppression of people must also begin at home. After all, Tamil blood runs in the veins of Tamils at home, too, and not only in Sri Lanka.