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Indian Tamils and Prabakaran’s Eelam:

Seeking Tamil Nadu’s refuge after its betrayal

The LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran in an interview with the prestigious Hindu newspaper in 1986 with N. Ram who was the editor of the Hindu and also a member of Kasthuri family who owns the Hindu paper.

“In his interview Prabhakaran stressed that there is no alternative except “Eelam” for the Tamil people living in the island. Ram suggested several options but Prabhakaran was not prepared to accept them. He also tried to maintain that it was the duty of Tamils in Tamil Nadu in particular and the government of India in general to support the cause of Eelam, S. Piyasena a former Deputy High Commissioner for Sri Lanka and a senior journalist told Daily News yesterday.

“I wrote a detailed reply to Prabhakaran’s claim and where I pointed out how the Tamil political leaders of Jaffna had treated the Tamils of Indian origin living in Sri Lanka during 1948 to 1952 period.

“In 1947 in the election of the first parliament in Sri Lanka seven members of the Ceylon Indian Congress were elected. They were S. Thondaman, (Nuwara Eliya), S.M. Subbaiya (first member Badulla), G.R. Motha (Maskeliya), K. Rajalingam (Nawalapitiya), M. Kumaravel (Kotagala), C.V. Velupillai (Thalawakele), D.Ramanujam (Aluthnuwara).

“Except Motha who was lawyer all others were full time trade unionists. They were elected to parliament because of dedicated work for the uplift of the plantation workers who were most exploited group of workers in Ceylon.

“They were brought here by British planters from Southern Tamil Nadu in the 19th and 20th centuries. The parliamentarians of Ceylon Indian Congress were significant because of their attire.

They wore pure white vertis and kurthas spun out of Gandhian kadar. “Immediately after the elections the leader of the UNP D.S. Senanayake who had won only 42 seats out of 95 electorates of the House of representatives began ‘horse trading’ to obtain a majority.

“His first invitation was to the Ceylon Indian Congress. Thondaman as leader, requested the other members to take a decision. Only Motha said it should be considered with conditions. But strong trade unionists Subbaiya, Velupillai and Rajalingam strongly opposed any dealings with the UNP.

“However, D.S. Senanayake appointed the government with the support of several independents. In mid 1948, two ministers of the Senanayake government who were unseated on election petitions. By-elections were held for the seats of Kandy and Gampola. In both pro government candidates lost.

They lost because the plantation workers of the Indian origin (who formed a considerable proportion of the electorates) voted and blocked the UNP candidates.

This prompted the Senanayake government to introduce a draconian law named “Indian Pakistani Residents Citizenship Bill.

“When the Bill was placed before the House there was very keen debate lasting three days and over 20 Sinhala members of parliament oppose the Bill.

“I remember one incident during the debate. Pieter Keuneman who was speaking against the Bill said that the government has fallen in line with the South African Apartheid influenced by the imperialist camp. At this juncture Professor S. A. Pakeman who was a nominated European member interjected ‘what about the Concentration camp’

“Keuneman was very quick. He said “Mr. Speaker, my good old professor of history who had taught history most of it I have forgotten now, talking of concentration camps.

Why should he go round the world to see concentration camps? Let him drive for two hours from Colombo and go to British owned plantations in the hill country.

He can see the worse concentration camps in the world’ Indian Pakistani Residents Citizenship Bill was passed by 52 to 32.

“Of the 12 Ceylon Tamil Congress members representing the Northern and Eastern provinces voted with the government supporting the Bill. Two dozen Sinhala members voted against risking their own political future.

Two Tamil members namely S.J.V. Chelvanayagam (Kankasanthurai) and Vanniyasingham (Kopai) voted against the Bill and formed the Federal Party and decided to support the struggle of the Indian origin.

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