Recently I chanced upon a political post in social media that alleged that, a certain Sri Lankan Tamil organization fueled anti-national sentiments in Tamil Nadu joining hands with a Dravidian party (since long). I wouldn’t want to explore the possibility as I am not interested in the outcome for the reason I believe that, the said dravida party could have in fact betrayed any Tamil cause in the long run in Sri Lanka contrary to what is circulated in the media.
In any case, the post reflected poorly on the intelligence and judgment capacity of individuals who are raring to take over the reins of the government in upcoming Assembly elections.
Only one question pops up in my mind. Should the assassination of one prime minister be reason enough to condemn an entire community that is blood related to mainland Tamils.
Secondly, these are not the Rohingyas from Myanmar with no umbilical cord or cultural connect with India. These are our very brethren who did not migrate to the island nation on their own will. Rather these were brought to Lanka and forced to work as bonded estate labour by the British a good century or two ago.
It reminds me of the cruel ‘Bale Kampung’ slogan that used to be raised in Malaysia at the drop of hat during election times. It meant ‘go back home’ to Chinese and Indian migrants who were moved to the south east Asian nation a good three hundred years back by the British occupiers for working the tin mines and rubber estates in the country. It also brings back to memory the American ideology in the past of resettling back the blacks in Africa (sort of ‘passive’ ethnic cleansing?) footing the bills with generous handouts. Good the native Indians do not harbour similar sentiments of sending back ALL SQUATTERS IN AMERICA!
The British left Lanka without awarding equal constitutional privileges to Tamils who had to fight for even for their voting rights once the colonists departed. There reportedly was no mention of the Tamil ethnic race at all in the Independence charter. No legal sanction for a community that had made the island their home for over 200 to 300 years. Overnight rendered illegal immigrants. The Sri Lankan Tamil story is heart-wrenching.
I had a firsthand information from my biological mother who went on excursion with her school wherein she worked, in 1980 to Sri Lanka. After a 10 day tour, she came back with minimal shopping. She had said that the Tamils in Sri Lanka were living in fear. The tourists could not visit Kadhirgamam already as they were stopped from going there. A river of blood had flown therein only weeks earlier. It was my mother’s greatest disappointment, having not visited the Murugan temple in Kadhirgamam.
It was an age when social media was still a very distant dream and even mass media was dysfunctional or erratic mostly. Newspapers ran censored lukewarm columns.
Violence of Sri Lanka thus had reached my home a two to three years before it was mainstream media news with international audience. Mid 80s saw Sri Lanka hog the headlines.
In Sri Lanka in 1980, my mother and her Hindu Tamil women teacher colleagues had to wipe their bindhis and cover their heads for their own security until they boarded their ships sailing back to Madras that was a mere three hours away by sea.
My mother never lived to see Lanka erupt into flames. Back when had she narrated the Sri Lankan horrors told to the visitors by Tamil traders, merchants, restauranteers, drivers etc., we had been shocked and numbed into disbelief. The Tamils were now the estate owners and business entrepreneurs igniting insane jealousy in Singhalese with their hard earned wealth.
We were receiving Sri Lankan tv in our home as well until 1982-83 perhaps. It was called Rupa Vahini and it was a far better channel than our Indian/Desi Door Darshan!
I grew up tuned to Sri Lankan radio that was my granny’s favourite that would keep blaring in my home all the time. ‘Ilangai oli parappu koottu stabanam Thamizh sevai irandu.’ Tell me which Tamil kid born in late ’60s or early ’70s missed this service.
The early ’80s saw the refugees in exodus from Sri Lanka arriving in boatloads accommodated into settlement camps in the state. Our school received quite a few Tamil girls who had fled their homes with empty hands and not even clothes to change.
We had meetings when these girls and parents addressed us, relating to us the genocide that was taking place in the island nation. Today none of us want to return to this point of reality sadly. As for as I was concerned, it was the first time ever that I heard of violence and bloodshed of any sort in my life. Very sheltered and peaceful village like life in Madras. Even Indira Gandhi was around then. Kashmir had not yet gone out of bounds. What an idyllic state of existence we have had until 1980 or so.
My aunt’s school saw a wave of admissions as well. One parent promised to come back with more girls rescued from the island but never returned. The clothes we donated. The food and medicines we garnered. The funds we raised. Didn’t this phase roll on for another 2 to 3 years at least.
All this is forgotten history now.
So easily and how heartlessly and crudely do some of us reduce all this to mere bloodshed and militancy. Is it all about Sri Lankan Tamils.
Can one assassination turn upside down an entirely justified cause of a population. Not denying the spate of violence that the said dreaded organization unleased in the island nation as well as in Tamil Nadu (in sporadic incidents). Still what drove men and women to found such an outfit and arm themselves to teeth. Was it in self-defence or in offence. Answering this one fundamental question can make a significant difference to our line of thought.
Was the supposed organization that was hardcore militant, sole representative of the island Tamil community. Or were these extremists the only voice of the beleaguered Tamils.
What a contorted notion this is and how far fetched can this be from truth.
One cannot hold a community responsible for any individual/organization’s actions or misdeeds. This is a very sick and mischievous ideology aimed at only one thing: shifting blame and scapegoating the gullible. Opportunistic.
The Sri Lankan diaspora is spread all around the world today, uprooted from their soil. And they can never go back to their motherland the way we Indians take our country for granted.
What a literate and intellectual society is this Sri Lankan Tamil community. The hardships they faced molded them into one very strong steely stock that struggle to uphold far better the puritanical Tamil culture over mainland (local) Tamils.
It was India who abetted their quest for a separate homeland in the first place that none of us can deny. But India changed tack conveniently and quickly abandoning the cause that we sponsored, leaving the hapless lot lost in confusion and mess. Any mental revisit to Mandapam years in ’70s?
And now we blame the unfortunate and battered island Tamils for stoking anti-national feelings in Tamil Nad?
Such a thinking can point to only one fact: how irresponsible and callous and shallow and insensitive can some of us become without a thought to larger scheme of things. There is always the full picture. If we get to depths of truth that can reveal things for what they are, we can never be arriving at nonsensical, hasty and irrational judgments.
This is what I fear most. A justified cause flagged for a one-off blunder that cost dear a tormented people. The wrong type would exactly latch on to such a weakness which is their trademark operating style. Trivializing aspirations and dashing hopes.
It is precisely this kind of political clout that I detest. Rash in action and judgment.
For how many more rounds of elections would we have Sri Lankan Tamils to use as our Trump card. Shame.
Hopefully, the Sri Lankan Tamil community live in peace at last wherever they are around the world, enriching lives, nourishing Tamil culture in far more meaningful way than merely by paying lip service.
I knew a family here in Chennai that was divided in most horrific way. Parents in Germany. Mother rented a house here in Tamil Nadu. Two boys. The eldest lost his life in a tragic rail accident while crossing over to his engineering college in Kattan Kolathur. The flights to Sri Lanka were rarest. Almost never. The parents made it a point to return to roots but the kids stayed away sadly. Very scarred at heart with a heightened sense of insecurity, this was one family that escaped murder and pillage, seeking refuge in Tamil Nadu/India overnight.
What language did they speak: Tamil. What is their Dharma? Hindu. Who were their ancestors? Hindu Tamils/Indians. And how quickly we judge anyone.
Few go back now but those who do are resigned to fate, swallowing pride and coming to terms with second class citizenship, as uneasy truce prevails now in Lanka. It is very painful to contemplate this harsh reality which has become the norm of their lives.
Let the bygones be bygones. Sri Lanka is done and dusted. We don’t know what pushed people to edges. I hope this never happens to any citizen of India even in our worst nightmares. Having to flee our homes in the dark of the night… the very thought can chill our spine…
If you meet Syrians or Palestinians or Sri Lankans or even Egyptians or Pakistanis/Afghans or Africans in life, you will realize what a blessed nation you are born into. Let us leave the Sri Lankans in peace.
I have met a Palestinian woman who did not even hold a valid passport. Instead the men and women from her place possess stamped loose travel papers.
I have heard from a Syrian how he walked to safety through a landmine stretch in single piece.
My tourist guide in Turkey was a Palestinian as well. Not knowing where to go next or where he would be allowed to step in at all.
Older and wiser these days. Everyone has a story to tell. If we are lucky enough not to become statistics like them, we must only be using our good offices to bring cheer to unfortunate lives than making more people miserable.
First of all cultivate LOVE. There is so much hatred all around that I find suffocating.