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
“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
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
“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.