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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Lankan Navy gets trained TN; keeps attacking fishermen from Tamil Nadu

Not many would have read the news about the  Sri Lankan Naval personnel  attacking fishing boats and arresting 23 Tamil Nadu fishermen when they were fishing near Katchatheevu in the Palk Straits ; nor about the news of Lankan Navy seizing 5 boats recently.  

Strange are the ways of people and stranger still are their priorities in life ! – while the NE problem is deeper than how it is portrayed, people in metropolis were more perturbed by the Govt curbing the use of SMS and Govt also heeded to their voices increasing the number of SMSes to 20 per day with  immediate effect.

With the politicians in power trying to suggest ‘the external hand’ as the cause of all problems, many a times the issue gets watered down to ridiculous levels – the trouble in Assam itself is deplorable; the Govt is tongue-tied to firmly speak off the troubles of illegal immigrants having reaped some electoral benefits thus long – they spoke off Pak hand in SMS – but have nothing to condemn about the Azad maidan incidents at Mumbai where National honour of ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti’ was desecrated by mobs and police personnel themselves were at the receiving end… sad indeed.

The travails of fishermen of Ramnad and nearby places being attacked by Lankan navy never gets condemned and the small tiny dot island Nation is able to play around with India.  China is an aggressor; Pakistan  is a pronounced enemy, Bangladesh foments trouble but Govt tries to do all the benefit to them; Burma is never clearer – Sri Lanka, is considered to be a buddy by the Indian Govt, but many a times gets involved in anti-Indian activities including dangling with Chinese, be it the construction of Hambantota and many other projects.  

The issue of relations with Sri Lanka; the treatment of tamilian fishermen in the  International navigable waters nearer the island; the issue of Sri Lankan refugees; re-settlement in the areas from where the Lankan Native tamils were uprooted – are all different issues, though having some commonality. The issue of tamils in Sri Lanka and the relations with Sri Lankan Tamils issue is spoken of in many political platforms but not many could trace its origins and may not know anything about the Donoughmore Commission which suggested creation of Provincial councils in 1928 much before the Nation became independent.   After the proposals of   S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the  stamp of approval by the Tamil parties, came in 1957 when S.V.J.Selvanayagam –Bandaranaike pact was signed. The abandonment of the pact led to tensions between the two communities, resulting in a series of outbreaks of ethnic violence in the country which eventually spiraled  into the 26 year Sri Lankan Civil War.

Following the attack and arrest of fishermen, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa shot off a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing concern over “unrelenting, harsh attitude of the Sri Lankan Navy” towards Indian fishermen. She also sought the Centre’s intervention in securing the release of those arrested by the island republic’s navy.  Lankan Navy’s actions “seem to be making a mockery of the entire diplomatic process,” she said referring to the latest incident, where its personnel allegedly forcibly took away fish netted by fishermen in mid-sea off Arukattuthurai in Tamil Nadu.  Then came another issue, which questions the Federal character of the Nation.

Accusing the Centre of showing “excessive enthusiasm” in training Lankan defence personnel, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa  said it has “mischievously concealed” the training being given to two Lankan officers in Tamil Nadu since May and demanded that they be sent back.  Earlier, nine personnel belonging to the Sri Lankan Air Force, who were undergoing technical training at the Air Force Station at Tambaram were relocated to the Yelahanka Air Force Station at Bangalore after her opposition.  The State Govt expressed strong objection to the training which was regarded as scant regard for the views of my government as well as for the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu.  Jayalalithaa’s words are not mere political posturing because every political party in the state is very vocal in its demand that India should take a tough stand against Sri Lanka for its alleged war crimes against thousands of Tamil civilians in 2009. They also want India to ensure that Tamils in the island are treated on par with the Sinhalese.  Except for a couple of small outfits, no mainstream party has been overtly supportive of the LTTE, but they have been clearly united on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue. New Delhi has been dubious in its stand on the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, whether it was before, during or after the 2009 war.

There are times when Tamil Nadu has  reasons to be indignant: the alleged attacks of its fishermen by Sri Lankan navy and the centre’s inaction on the issue.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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