2nd Lead (Adds background details)

Eastern poet decries regionalism

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 March 2004, 16:20 GMT]
In a statement to Tamil media on the recent raising of regionalism in the East by renegade commander Mr. Vinayagamoorthy Muraleetharan (Karuna), Mr. Kasi Anandan, a well-known poet from the East, said that the more than 17,700 fighters from Tamil Eelam who sacrificed their lives in the liberation struggle did not do so for Jaffna or Batticaloa, but for Tamil Eelam. “I will never accept the division of Tamil Eelam as Jaffna and Batticaloa. The people of Tamil Eelam will live until their last breath for Tamil Eelam,” he said.

Poet Kasi Anandan
Mr. Kasi Anandan’s statement continues:

“There was a time when a parliamentarian (MP) from the East, Mr. V. Nalliah, raised regionalism and the Sinhala government in power gave him a ministerial post. Then came another MP, Mr. K.W.Devanayagam, who also raised regionalism and was rewarded by the then United National Party government with a cabinet position.

“There was a political organizer in Batticaloa by the name Rajan Selvanayagam, who also raised regionalism for the sake of his own political career.

Poet's Letter (Courtesy: TamilNaatham)
(Click on the letter for an enlarged readable version in Tamil)
“Then there was the parliamentarian Mr. S. Rajadurai, who initially thundered that there should be a Tamil homeland (or Tamil Eelam) from Kankesanthurai in the North to Thirukovil in the South. In the end, he too raised regionalism and was rewarded with a ministerial post.

“This kind of betrayal and regionalism from Batticaloa did not end with that. There are new traitors who advance regionalism.

"But such regionalism was burnt to ashes by the fire of Tamil nationalism a long time ago. Regionalism will not rise again from the ashes.”

Kasi Ananadan was born in 1938 in Batticaloa. While as a student at Batticaloa Central College, he took part in“anti-Sinhala campaigns," and was arrested for the first time and given a suspended sentence for tarring Sinhala car registration plates.

Later, when he erased school name-boards in the Sinhala script, he was arrested and taken to the Batticaloa Police Station where he was tortured, with the result that his asthmatic condition deteriorated steadily.

Soon after his release, he went to Tamil Nadu to pursue his studies in Tamil linguistics and literature, and there, at the Pachiappa College, he horned his language and creative skills Professor M.Varadarasan and Dr.N.Sanjeevi. While in Tamil Nadu, he frequented the famous spokesman poet Bharathidasan of the Dravida Kazhakam, the movement founded by Periyar E.V.Ramasamy.

In 1963, he returned to Sri Lanka and worked a translator in the Translation Bureau. But when Sri Lanka became a Republic in 1972, Kasi Ananthan decided to surrender his official post and make his opposition felt through militant action. Soon after his resignation, he was taken into custody by the authorities for his involvement in militant activities in favour of the cause of Eelam independence.

With the onset of the ethnic problems in the post-war days, Kasi Ananthan chose to adhere to the Federal Party, led by S.J.V.Chelvanayagam. By 1976, however, the latter party was absorbed into the Tamil United Liberation Front [TULF], composed of three separate parties, then under the leadership of the late Appapillai Amirthalingam. When the TULF was founded in 1972, Kasi Ananthan was the organizing secretary, and later he became one of the Central Politburo members.

Since Kasi Ananthan’s chief purpose was to militate in favour of the Tamil separatist cause, he found the TULF far too ineffectual for his aims, and so he turned to the Tigers, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, in 1982, which earned him proscription by the Sinhala government in Colombo. Kasi Ananthan’s poems were considered seditious, and he spent five long years in various prisons at Welikade, Batticaloa, Matara, and Kandy. When the Tigers sought refuge in India, they took him with them, and he still resides there, in Chennai. In 1987, when the Indo-Sri Lankan Agreement was signed, he returned to Sri Lanka along with LTTE chief Veluppillai Pirabhakaran who had earlier on come for peace talks in India. Kasi was part of a peace delegation that met with Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. Following which, the poet was elected a member of the Central Committee of the Political Wing of the LTTE.

During his sojourn in Tamil Nadu, Aditanar, a Tamil leader of the “We Tamils Movement” who was also Speaker of the Tamil Nadu Assembly and chief editor of Thinathanthi, bestowed on him the title of Unarchik Kaviñar, the poet of emotional commitment, very much in the same category as the Tamil poet of Pondicherry, Bharathidasan who has been hailed as the poet-spokesman of the Dravida Kazhakam movement. Kasi Ananthan is reputed to have proclaimed: Pirapakaran ninaittatu natakkum, that is, « What Prabhakaran thinks/wishes/wants will happen! » Since Premier Rajiv Ghandi’s assassination, he has been under strict surveillance in Chennai.

His songs/poems in support of the Tigers number more than a thousand, according to the poet, and he is easily the most revered poet among the Tamils of Sri Lanka and the Eela Diaspora.

It is even said of him that he is the greatest recruiter of guerillas for the cause of Tamil Eelam. Youngsters on hearing his songs and poems become so motivated and fired that they drop everything: studies, families, and jobs - just to join the ranks and fight for an independent land of their own.

He married a qualified nurse from his hometown in 1979, and his two teenage daughters are en route to becoming doctors in Chennai.

Kasi also has/had two brothers and a sister. His brother Sutharshan had sought political asylum in Germany and resides there as a refugee, and his unmarried sister Sivamalar who was jailed at Poosar Camp in Colombo for a year and a half lives with her/their mother, though under constant harassment – according to the poet – in Batticaloa.

Sivajeyam, who was in-charge of the LTTE’s finances in the Batticaloa and Amparar regions, was jailed together with Kasi during 1975-76, and later during the IPKF’s onslaught on the Tamils took cyanide in Thalankuda, in 1988. The poet remains particularly marked by this incident.

External Links:
TamilNaatham: Regionalism (in Tamil) by Kasi Anandan


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