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Friday, September 21, 2012

Vaiko not allowed to proceed to Sanchi - arrrested; protests against Rajapaksa in Chennai

The place acclaimed for peace in India  has created tumult in Tamilnadu.

Emperor Asoka (273-236 B.C.) built stupas in  Buddha's honour at many places in India. Stupas at Sanchi  are the most magnificent structures of ancient India.  Sanchi known for its "Stupas" is a small village in Raisen District of the state of Madhya Pradesh, located 46 km north east of Bhopal.  The 'Great Stupa' at Sanchi is the oldest stone structure in India and was originally commissioned by the emperor Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BCE. Its nucleus was a simple hemispherical brick structure built over the relics of the Buddha.

The MP State cabinet has set up an ambitious project in setting up the first Buddhist and Indian Knowledge Studies University in Buddhist pilgrimage center at Sanchi.  Six major provisions have been made in Sanchi Buddhist and Indian Knowledge Studies University. These include teaching of Dharma/Dhamma in the context of varied knowledge traditions and contemporary context without negating views and practices prevailing in other countries.  The ordinance provides for maximum interaction between Asian countries with forceful historic similarities in religion, philosophy and folk culture. There are also provisions for understanding mutual viewpoints on Asian cultures and civilizations and promoting world peace and harmony by understanding each another's role.

All that is well, but not the Man to inaugurate and the timing of it.

Percy Mahendra "Mahinda" Rajapaksa, the 6th President of Sri Lanka and Commander in Chief of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces is not a person liked here. Rajapaksa was first elected to the Parliament of Sri Lanka in 1970, and served as Prime Minister from April 6, 2004 until his victory in the 2005 Presidential election. He is widely seen as the person behind annihilation of tamils in Sri Lanka.

Kalingapatty Vai Gopalsamy known as Vaiko, the head of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) lead an entourage of people closer to 1000,  in trains, buses, cars and… protesting against the visit of Rajapaksa.  A few hours earlier, today, the police have detained politician Vaiko and his supporters on the border of Madhya Pardesh and Maharashtra, about 350 kilometres away from Sanchi. They were protesting against the visit of Sri Lankan president Mahindra Rajapakse, who they say must take responsibility for alleged atrocities against thousands of Tamils in his country. Police had increased security to keep Vaiko and others from reaching Sanchi.

In Chennai, there was trouble and traffic turned chaotic, as a hundred protestors surrounded the Sri Lankan high commission and were later arrested.   All political parties in Tamil Nadu blame the Sri Lankan defence forces for alleged human rights violations of the minority Tamil population in the last few months of the island's civil war, which ended in 2009 with the defeat of the LTTE militants. 

Yesterday  Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and  discussed key bilateral issues with India pressing for an expeditious inclusive solution to the decades-long ethnic issue and rehabilitation of displaced Tamils.  Singh also hosted a private dinner, which was attended by a select number of guests, for the visiting dignitary. Concerned over the slow pace of the rehabilitation of Tamils, New Delhi has been pressing Colombo to fast-track the rehabilitation of war-displaced Tamils in Sri Lanka and also asking it to speed up a lasting solution to the ethnic issue.  Earlier, Rajapaksa met President Pranab Mukherjee during which rehabilitation process for Tamils and fishermen issues were discussed. In the backdrop of the recent attacks against Sri Lankans in Tamil Nadu, the visiting leader, during his meeting with Mukherjee, also noted that such “unfortunate incidents” should not be allowed to “harm” age-old ties between the two countries.

Back in Sri Lanka, there is the news of monks leading about 300 protesters from the Buddhist nationalist National Heritage Party and demonstrating  opposite a local UN office. They complained Sri Lanka is being unfairly criticized for a poor human rights record as the war was ending in 2009.  To the protesters, the visit was a step toward subjecting Sri Lanka to an international war crimes investigation.  Three representatives from the U.N. human rights commission have met Sri Lankan government officials and ethnic Tamil politicians and seen areas ravaged by war on their visit.

A UN report found evidence the government and Tamil Tiger rebels committed rights violations during the war. It said tens of thousands of civilians may have been killed in the final stages of the fighting, though there are no clear estimates available. The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution earlier this year urging Sri Lanka to investigate alleged war crimes committed by both sides. The visits are seen as a follow-up to the resolution, which also asked Sri Lanka to accept expertise from the office of UN human rights commissioner.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
21st Sept. 2012.

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