Sri Lankan Tamils and Tamil Eelam - III
by Thamizhchelvan on 16 Sep 2013 0 Comment

Demolition of Temples: There has been a sustained campaign in Tamil Nadu that hundreds of temples in the North have been demolished and that Sinhalese citizens are being settled in Tamil areas. Even DMK supremo Karunanidhi expressed concern and wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the matter with Sri Lanka.


Thuglak gives an opposite picture. It quotes Saravanabavan, Tamil National Alliance MP: “Of course, they are building new Buddhist temples here but there is no information that Hindu temples were demolished here”. Yogeswari, Tamil Mayor of Jaffna, says, “Hindu temples were not demolished. The Government refurbishes each and every Hindu temple here at a cost of several lakhs of rupees”.


Tamil staff in the “Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs” Department of the SL Government have affirmed that the government has been renovating many temples destroyed in the war. However some sources say Buddhist shrines are being built by the Army and in certain Hindu temples separate Buddhist sannidhis (sanctums) have been constructed in eastern Lanka (Verugal, Sampur, Thirukovil, interior Batticaloa, Kantalai, etc). Thuglak quotes government sources saying that these Buddhist shrines have been built for officers of the Armed Forces and their families, who reside in those areas, and that local people have not objected. But the pro-LTTE website ‘Tamilnet’ says Buddha sannidhis have been constructed even in famous ancient temples like Thirukethiswaram and that renovation work undertaken by the management of Muneeswaram Temple has been stopped by the government.


It is pertinent that Buddhist sannidhis in Hindu temples and Hindu sannidhis in Buddhist temples have always been the tradition because Buddhism derives from Sanatana Dharma.


As for the complaint that the SL government is settling Sinhalese in Tamil areas, Thuglak quotes an Army official, “A law called ‘Thesawalamai Law’ (Thesawalamai Pre-emption Ordinance of 1948) exists here. Except the Tamils of Northern Province, no one either from Colombo or from the Southern Sri Lanka could come to the North to buy properties here. A Tamil has been appointed as the Government Agent (Collector) here. He has all the data regarding the land. No one can amend the documents of several years all of a sudden. Sinhala settlement is an impossible issue. Only the lands of few Tamil Muslim families, who were chased away by the LTTE in 1983, have been returned to them”. 


Yet other sources say appropriation of private lands and Sinhala settlements have happened in Eastern and Northern Province areas such as Trincomalee, Amparai and Batticaloa, and also Mullaitivu, Kilinochchi and Vavuniya.




Talking of the “capture and torture” of Tamil Nadu fishermen, Thuglak quotes A. Sagayaraja, President of the Jaffna Marine Development Association: “there are large numbers of fishes in the Sri Lankan coast. Hence the Tamil Nadu fishermen sail up to the Sri Lankan coast for fishing. In the past we stopped fish trade due to the fear of war and took up other jobs. Because of this Indian fishermen began to exploit our waters and were fishing there. However, many of us have since returned to the fishing trade. Hence we are forced to deal with the presence of Indian fishermen in our waters now. Indian fishermen use new technology and sophisticated fishing methods compared to us. Hence we find it difficult to keep up with them or compete. There is a ban on using trawler mechanized boats here. However Indian fishermen use double nets on the single nets and take away all the fish. If GPS equipments are fixed in the boats of Indian fishermen and monitored through satellite links, the truth as to where they do fishing will be exposed. Will the Indian government do it”?


Question of Independent Eelam


With the IPKF’s exit, the people of Eastern province started losing interest in independent Tamil Eelam and with the ouster of Col Karuna from LTTE, they dropped the idea of Tamil Eelam totally. Muslims have also been a considerable force there and hence LTTE couldn’t control the east for long. Eastern Province has faced the elections twice after the exit of the LTTE. Even in the Northern Province people have given up the option of Eelam after the defeat of LTTE.


Tamils of Sri Lanka aspire only for equal rights within the constitutional framework, though some intellectuals feel the creation of an independent state may be inevitable. It is unfortunate that Tamil Hindu intellectuals of Sri Lanka have resigned themselves to the idea of separation from Sri Lanka and feel that their Buddhist brethren would never dilute their chauvinist tendencies. Though they accept the divisive role of the Church, they insist that Sinhala Buddhists caused the problem and forced the Tamils to take to arms and militancy which was later exploited by the Church.


Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse clearly exposed the hidden Church agenda when reacting to Navi Pillay’s report: UN human rights chief Navi Pillay’s visit to the island nation was influenced by propaganda from elements of the LTTE that was defeated in a civil war in 2009. The re-emergence of terrorism is still a threat. Elements of the Tamil Tigers and their supporters are working to increase international pressure on Sri Lanka. Their intention is the division of Sri Lanka and the establishment of a separate State for Tamil Eelam. The country’s internal matters have featured on the agenda of many international NGOs and even at the UNHRC sessions. The visit by Ms. Pillay is another instance of this attention.”


This should not be construed to be in favour of Hindus. Mahinda Rajapaksa plays with the church to weaken Tamil Hindu revival. In February, when the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh organized a grand celebration of Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birth anniversary in Colombo, Rajapaksa tried to scuttle it by not giving permission at the selected venue. The organisers changed the venue at the eleventh hour and successfully held the function with an attendance of more than 10,000 people.


Meanwhile, Rajapaksa, whose wife is a Catholic, has invited Pope Francis to visit Sri Lanka. The invitation is believed to have been accepted by the Vatican. The last Papal Visit was in 1995 by John Paul II. This is a classic example of how the Church plays on both sides securing a “win-win” position.


The Buddhist clergy, however, has miserably failed to stop the aggressive progress of Christianity in Sri Lanka. It has failed to produce a true Buddhist leader in politics. Since Independence, all Presidents of Sri Lanka have been Christians or Buddhist converts with a Christian background or Buddhists with Christian spouses. And in the madness of Sinhala chauvinism, they made common cause with Christians against Hindus without realizing the common civilisational ethos they shared. On the other hand, SL Tamils made the mistake of giving more importance to linguistic identity than religious identity. They too made common cause with Tamil Christians and ultimately paid a huge price for their blunder. They have never been able to produce a strong Hindu leadership; the Church with political foresight was able to place its people in leadership positions among both the Sinhala and Tamil people, and influence them.


Understanding the Church


Any strong non-Abrahamic nation is a challenge to the Generic Church. It will singularly focus on such nations to Christianise them. As a start, missionaries descend on the target region and begin evangelization in the guise of educational and medical services; thousands of NGOs work amongst the masses; divisions are created in native society along linguistic and communal lines; inculturation is employed to confuse the natives; the missionaries are supported by their respective governments so that influential fields like Judiciary, Academy, Media and the Executive are infiltrated. Western concepts like ‘secularism’, ‘pluralism’, ‘human rights’ and ‘religious freedom’ are sold; huge lands bought, crosses planted and prayer houses and churches built. Finally Christianisation is complete by creating divisions and if required by terrorism too, as evidenced by the Goa Inquisition and the continued support to insurgency in northeast, Maoists and LTTE.  


This is what happened in South Korea, South Sudan, East Timor. The same thing happened to Goa and India’s northeast and is happening in other partly Christianised states. This is being attempted in Sri Lanka, which is close to Tamil Nadu. The northeast of Sri Lanka, culturally connected to Tamil Nadu for centuries, is being made into a Tamil Christian nation. Recall that European missionaries descended on these soils in the 15th and 16th centuries. They early on took control of language (hijacking the ‘Tamil’ language) and cultural ethos (through inculturation).

(This writer wrote a five part series, “Myth of Christian contribution to Tamil” in Vijayvaani)


So, if at all a separate ‘Tamil Eelam’ happens, with the help of UN, US and Europe, it can only have a Christian identity. The SL Tamil intellectuals who say Eelam is inevitable must bear this in mind and work towards a Buddhist-Hindu Identity for a unified Sri Lanka.


Geopolitical conundrum


To help Sri Lanka acquire a Buddhist Hindu identity, India needs a government which is Hindu in mind and body. A Hindu government in India will not only assert the supremacy of India in the region but also the progress of non-Abrahamic nations like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, et al. That is why the Generic Church and the west, particularly the US, do not want a Hindu party ruling India; they will apply pressure to thwart the emergence of a Hindu Rashtra / Rajya.


The Buddhist clergy and the Sinhala Buddhists have a huge responsibility to make Sri Lanka stand united with a Buddhist-Hindu identity. They must realise that both Sri Lanka and India have centuries-long civilisational ties. They must respect the fact that Tamil Hindus are as native to Sri Lanka as Sinhala Buddhists and have equal rights over the land. And lastly, they must introspect and consider the huge losses their nation had suffered in the last three decades due to the ethnic conflict. Realising the surge of the Abrahamic cults within their nation, they should shun Sinhala chauvinism and improve ties with Tamil Hindus. India, China and the US have a stake in Sri Lanka. As of now, China seems close to Colombo, but SL cannot afford to ignore India and US will not allow China to gain a foothold in the region.


Radha Rajan, editor, Vigil Online, says, “The US wants a unipolar world and a multi-polar Asia because it wants to check China. The US will not want even India to emerge as the unchallenged regional power - economically or militarily. China wants a unipolar Asia and a multi-polar world; and that is why it is investing heavily in economic projects in Africa and in Asia. Russia is at least making some motions of regaining its national self-respect but Putin’s nationalist objectives are now slowly giving way to personal desire to stay in power as PM or President. So Putin’s Russia is no longer a threat to America’s dominance in world affairs. America’s dominance is also eroding which is why Assange and Snowden happened. Assange and Snowden happened because of a weak America which they hit with a mortal blow with their leaks weakening it further. Even in this global political meltdown India failed to seize the wonderful opportunity that world affairs presented to get involved actively in Nepal and Sri Lanka. That is why America and China grabbed the opportunity and started influencing Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal too. Putin’s Russia and UPA India have allowed all monsters to run loose and the consequences will be felt sooner than later”.


In this scenario, the forthcoming provincial elections in Sri Lanka and general elections in India gain a lot of importance.


Election scenario in Sri Lanka and India


Whether the West likes or not, the UPA government controlled by an Italian is most likely to lose its mandate in the forthcoming general elections and the ‘Hindu’ Bharatiya Janata Party likely to be elected as single largest party. A BJP-led government will certainly improve Indo-Lanka relations and help resolve the SL Tamils issue. In this backdrop, the elections (September 21) to the Tamil dominated Northern Province gain significance as they are happening after 25 years. The Eastern and North Central Provinces are also going for elections. The Tamils are present in significant numbers in the East. The ruling UPFA, UNP and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) are contesting in all ten districts, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the five districts in Northern Province whilst the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), a constituent party of the UPFA, is contesting separately in seven districts.  


As per the 2012 censes, Sinhalese comprise 75% of the population, and Tamils 15% (Sri Lankan Tamils 11% and Indian Tamils 4%). In 1981, the corresponding figures were 74% (70% in 1953) and 18% (24% in 1953). The religion-wise figures in 2012 are Buddhists 70.2% (69.2% in 1981 and 64.3% in 1953), Hindus 12.6% (15.5% in 1981 and 19.9% in 1953), Muslims 9.7% (7.5% in 1981 and 6.7% in 1953) and Christians 7.4% (7.6% in 1981 and 8.9% in 1953). The reduction in Tamil population is mainly due to migration to Tamil Nadu as refuges and also to North America and Europe.


Interestingly, the Democratic People’s Front (DPF) headed by Mano Ganesan has announced it will support the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) in the Northern Province elections. The DPF says the TNA will win the Northern Provincial Council election and that the Tamil people should unite for this. Interestingly, a known critic of the LTTE and leader of TULF, Anandasangaree, is likely to contest the elections on a TNA ticket from Kilinochchi district.


The surprising announcement in TNA’s election manifesto is a demand for an “international probe into LTTE’s war crimes” along with those of the Armed Forces. The manifesto promises to fight for the Tamils’ right to self determination within a united Sri Lanka. It promises to negotiate with the center on the expansion of provincial powers over land and the police. The manifesto speaks of demilitarizing the Northern Province to the level of pre-1983 status. The TNA has committed to encourage Muslims (driven out by the LTTE) to return and to provide all facilities for their rehabilitation.


SL Tamil intellectuals are a bit skeptical about the Muslims as they feel that Muslims do not identify themselves as “Tamils” and hence the term ‘Tamil Muslim’ is a misnomer. Citing the two incidents of Muslims voting for the ‘Removal of Indian Tamil’ in 1949 and ‘Sinhala Only Act’ in 1956, they say that the idea of Tamil Muslims is absurd in Sri Lanka, akin to the idea of ‘Tibetan Korean’ or ‘Iranian Hindu’.


The Justice Wigneswaran factor


The TNA constituted a committee from all its five constituents to decide the Chief Ministerial candidate, viz. R. Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, MA Sumanthiran and Selvarajah of the Federal Party, Sangiah and Krishnapillai of the TULF, Suresh Premachandran and Sarveswaran of the EPRLF, Selvan Adaikalanathan, Srikantha, Henry Mahenthiran and Karunakaran of the TELO and T. Siddharthan, K. Sivanesan, and Ragavan of the PLOTE.


They unanimously selected Justice Canagasabapathy Visuvalingam Wigneswaran. Initially, a majority of the members preferred Mavai Senathirajah, as he is a seasoned politician. But R. Sampanthan, leader of the alliance, reportedly put his foot down and prevailed over others. The fact that Justice Wigneswaran is an erudite scholar and regarded highly in legal and social circles, and would be best suited to tackle legal issues pertaining to the functioning of the Northern Provincial Council post-elections, weighed in his favour.


Justice Wigneswaran retired as a Supreme Court Judge in 2004 and after some reluctance, entered the political arena. Well versed in Sanskrit, he is known for beginning his speeches with a Sanskrit hymn or Guru Vandana.  Recently, he has released a book (a collection of lectures) titled “Some Thoughts on Hinduism”. He has written extensively on the subjects of “Hinduism and Conflict Resolution”, “Hindu leadership on Peace and Harmony”, and the “Role of Hinduism in reconciliation and co-existence”.


Reflecting his understanding of ground realities, he says, “Civilians in the North have lost loved ones. They don’t know the whereabouts of others, their properties are occupied, and they have no jobs. People from the South cultivate lands forcibly held by the army, and the produce is sold to the owners of these lands. There are a large number of widows.” Stressing that much needs to be done for them, he says he would negotiate with the government to fulfill its duty and responsibility in this regard.


Arundhati Rajasingham says, “The Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka also appears to be finally changing for the better, as evidenced by the choice of Justice Wigneswaran. He has openly stated that the Tamil Nadu politicians do not have the Sri Lankan Tamil concerns at heart but only have the next Indian elections in mind. He has urged that the street demonstrations in Tamil Nadu should stop as they serve no purpose at all! That was a powerful statement to make. He is instead interested in cultivating New Delhi, a wise move as the power is there. He wants Colombo to implement the Rajiv Gandhi sponsored Thirteenth Amendment in full with the transfer of land and police powers to the regions and a re-merger of the East and the North.”


However, Sinhala writers are a bit skeptical about him; Sinhala Buddhist organizations have registered protests against him. But the fact that his two sons are married to Sinhala Buddhists weighs in his favour; moreover, he is more of a ‘Colombo’ person interested in a united Lanka. When the majority, say 85% to 90%, of SL Tamils is Hindu, what is wrong in a Hindu becoming Chief Minister? The TNA seems set to win handsomely and that would give an opportunity for Rajapaksa to make amends for the last four years after the war.




The present dispensation in India is in a pathetic state and has no respect nationally and internationally. The change of guard at the center, which is imminent within a few months, will be good for Sri Lanka as well as the Sri Lankan Tamils. Three things are very important: Sinhala Buddhists should shed their chauvinistic tendencies and Sri Lankan Tamils should assert their Hindu identity so that Sri Lanka acquires a Buddhist-Hindu identity in order to keep the alien forces away. India should proactively engage Sri Lanka and educate it about the importance of Hindu-Buddhist civilisational unity which would go a long way in improving the relationship and help resolve the issues. Sri Lanka should reciprocate and cooperate.           





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The Jaffna Version Of The Tamil Bible: By Peter Percival Or Arumuka Navalar?


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THUGLAK – Tamil Fortnightly (June-July 2013) 


Understanding Thesawalamai;


Gotabhaya Rajapaksa criticises Navi Pillay visit


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Sri Lankan provincial council election, 2013,_2013


Sri Lanka Census of Population and Housing, 2011


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Justice Wigneswaran is TNA’s CM candidate


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