“As long as the LTTE remained, the Tamils felt protected and secure”
P C Vinoj Kumar
10 Mar 2014
No ‘Hang-Rajapaksa’ slogans. No ‘Boycott Sri Lanka’ placards. No ‘Pro-LTTE’ speeches. It is an unfamiliar situation in Tamil Nadu. But that is how it has been for a while since the order came to hang the three convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case in August.
The only slogan one hears now is ‘Say No to Death Penalty’. Has the campaign against death penalty to save the lives of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan derailed the pro-Eelam movement?
Rajendran (holding the mike) feels that the pro-Eelam movement will never die down
The Weekend Leader spoke to Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam General Secretary Viduthalai Rajendran, a strong proponent for bifurcation of Sri Lanka and creation of a separate State for Tamils, on the lull in the pro-Eelam movement worldwide. Will the movement survive or peter out, we asked Rajendran? Excerpts from the interview:
Q. There seems to be a lull in the pro-Eelam movement worldwide. What is happening?
A. In Tamil Nadu, our focus shifted to saving the lives of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan after the order came to hang them on September 9. Though the Madras High Court has stayed the hanging for eight weeks, many groups are still active in demanding abolition of death penalty.
The Tamils in Sri Lanka are in a helpless situation. They are not in a position to demand their rights.
A Tamil journalist from Sri Lanka was in Chennai recently. He reportedly said that people outside Sri Lanka have not understood the real problems faced by the Tamils there. The Tamils are fighting for their survival and the government is not helping them in any way.
The money that the Indian government provided Sri Lanka to build houses for the Tamils has not been used for the purpose.
(According to a report in The Hindu, just 52 houses have been built with Indian funds in Jaffna peninsula out of a proposed 1000 houses.)
Colombo has been diverting the funds for other purposes. But India doesn’t seem to care or monitor how the funds are being used. India is not sincere about helping the Tamils.
As for the Diaspora Tamils, there appears to be lack of unity among them. The enthusiasm with which they came out into the streets during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka in 2009 is missing now.
The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (of Rudrakumaran) hasn’t lived up to expectations.
There are also reports that some groups in Europe are talking about reviving the LTTE.
Q. Do you think it is possible to revive an armed struggle in Sri Lanka?
A. It’s a big question mark.
Q. What about the fate of Tamils living in Sri Lanka?
A. Many are leaving the country and joining their relatives living abroad. As long as the LTTE remained, the Tamils felt protected and secure. Now, they have no safety or security. Sri Lanka is determined to wipe out Tamil identity. Their aim is to change the demography of the traditional Tamil territories in the North and Eastern parts of Sri Lanka. They are setting up Sinhalese settlements in Tamil areas. The army is extending full support to the new settlers.
Q. What do you think will happen to the Eelam movement?
A. There may be ups and downs in a movement, but the movement itself will survive.
Q. Is Eelam achievable?
A. There appears to be a lull now, but things can change any time. Didn’t the UN Report and the Channel 4 Expose give fresh impetus to the struggle? The future is in the hands of the younger generation.
A group of social workers in the temple town of Kanchipuram meet every week to chart their down to earth projects. All of them teetotalers, not by scheme, they work at the grassroots level but seek no external aid. P C Vinoj Kumar meets them
In the chilly heights of Ladakh, Thinlas Chorol stands out as a social entrepreneur, trekking guide, ice hockey player and a writer rolled into one. Her remarkable role is changing the face of tourism up there, says Kavita Kanan Chandra
Fetching water takes such considerable time for rural women that they expend most of their time and energy on that. But ‘Water Wheel’, a recent innovation, is ushering a change in the lives of women in some villages, says Souzeina S Mushtaq
He once wanted to create a 'Shangrila' in the Himalayas. In 1993, he was into mergers and acquisitions in Citibank. But now Ramji Raghavan promotes scientific temper and the spirit of enquiry among poor children, says Kavita Kanan Chandra
Yankanma wanted to be a cook. Today she teaches English to her son. Rajesh Bhat, who quit a well-paid job to be a social entrepreneur, has many such rural success tales to narrate as he tells Souzeina S Mushtaq about his NGO, Head Held High
Students of IIT, Kanpur, are learning more about society by taking classes to underprivileged children around their campus. 'Shiksha Sopan’, a students' organization, enables many of its poor charges do what they couldn't have done otherwise
He helps students from poor families to pursue their higher studies and trains many for competitive exams, but shies away from publicity. He wouldn’t even want his photo to be published. P C Vinoj Kumar meets the founder of Mugavari, K Ramesh
If you hear the laughter of a disabled child, think of Kilikili, which literally means child's warbling laughter. Founded by Kavitha Krishnamoorthy, the NGO strove for making parks disabled-friendly. Souzeina Mushtaq tells us how it started