Feature Article

New Delhi’s insensitive defence approach triggers off trouble in Palk Strait

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 25 January 2011, 22:13 GMT]
New Delhi’s approach of safeguarding its defence interests by protecting a flawed state and regime in Sri Lanka is the root cause for recent escalation of trouble in either side of the Palk Strait, following defence agreements and secret protocols between Indian Defence Secretary and Colombo’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. New Delhi and Colombo, having strategic partnership in safeguarding establishments and in economic interests of corporations, were totally insensitive to the defence of the people living on either side of the Palk Strait, the historic shareholders of the waters. Instead of working for international recognition and justice to the national question of Eezham Tamils, New Delhi sitting on it and defending genocidal Colombo will invite further trouble in the coming days, writes TamilNet political commentator in Colombo.

Frustrated by the decades long trouble in fishing in the Palk Bay caused by Sri Lanka Navy, and by the negligence of New Delhi that is preoccupied with ‘larger interests,’ people of a fishing village near Point Calimere (Koadikkarai) in Tamil Nadu have decided to ‘surrender’ to the Sri Lanka Navy and seek asylum in Sri Lanka.

About 500 fishermen in the village of Pushpavanam in the Naakappaddinam district of Tamil Nadu have decided to go along with their 100 odd fibreglass boats and seek asylum in Sri Lanka, reported expressbuzz Tuesday.

According to the president of the village, M. Kathirvel, “Since we don’t want to lead a life under constant fear of being killed or brutally attacked by Lankan Navy anytime while fishing in mid-sea, seeking asylum and continuing the fishing activities from the Lankan shores would only assure our food and more importantly the lives.”

This frustration subconsciously stems from the blow the people of Tamil Nadu have had after seeing how the New Delhi establishment was in complicity with Colombo in the genocide, imprisonment and subjugation of Eezham Tamil civilians in the island.

Two or three incidents took place within the last 10 days. In the last incident the Sri Lanka Navy that had beaten up the Tamil Nadu fishermen ordered them to swim and go. When one among them, Mr. Jeyakumar who was beaten up in the hand told the SL Navy that he was unable to swim, the Navy hanged him on his neck by a rope, put him into the sea and killed him, says journalist Aiyanathan of Tamil Nadu.

Killings and attacks of fishermen from Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lanka Navy that has a genocidal attitude towards Tamils, is a legacy of over 25 years. Hundreds have been brutally killed in the sea over the decades.

According to international law any crossing of sea border by fishermen is a civil offence and not a criminal offence. In similar cases the Indian Navy didn’t attack the Sri Lankan fishermen, the Tamil Nadu protesters point out.

Both India and Sri Lanka conspire to block the maritime relationship of the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and the Eezham Tamils. Both the states scheme to sell the resources of the Tamil waters to multinational corporates. The fishermen are seen as an impediment to their agenda. That’s why the attack on them, said the protestors.

Meanwhile, the long suppressed anger over the fishermen issue in Tamil Nadu reflected in an attack on the Mahabodhi Society, a Sri Lankan Buddhist outfit and pilgrims rest in Chennai on Monday. Five Buddhist monks, including the Chief Incumbent of the temple, Ven. Banagala Upatissa Thera had been hospitalized, reported The Island in Colombo, Tuesday.

The society, in collaboration with the Deputy High Commission of Sri Lanka in Chennai, was planning to celebrate the independence day of Sri Lanka in a grand way in Chennai on 04 February.

The state-government in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday assured round-the-clock protection to Sri Lankan institutions in Chennai such as the Deputy High commission, the Maha Bodhi Centre, Sri Lankan Airlines and the Bank of Ceylon.

Around 25 Tamil activists, including Mr. Thiumurukan of the May 17 Movement and journalist Mr. Aiyanathan of the Tamil Protection Movement were arrested when they agitated in front of the Congress Party office in Chennai, protesting Indian inaction to the recent killing of a fisherman by Sri Lanka Navy.

They accused the Congress government for the killing and demanded the resignation of Indian ministers, Pranab Mukerjee, A. K. Antony and S.M. Krishna.

In a parallel protest, fisher women association agitated in front of the house of the Indian home minister P. Chidambaram.

The arrested protestors were charged for unauthorized assembly and one person was charged under act 188 for burning an Indian map.

On Tuesday, 500 activists of Viduthalai Chi'ruththaika'l Kadchi (VCK), a party aligned with ruling DMK in Chennai, were arrested when they were protesting in front of the Deputy High commission of Sri Lanka in Chennai, according to a press statement of the VCK.

But, there was another protest and arrests over a bit different but related issues on Saturday at Cuddalore, a port town in Tamil Nadu.

Human rights activist Prabha Kalvimani, advocates Karthikeyan and Thirumurukan and political activists Balaguru and Nagai Mugan from Chennai were arrested while in a conference.

According to Times of India Monday, citing Tamil Nadu police, the arrested made pro-LTTE statements at a conference held on Saturday night and the speakers also made anti-India remarks when a police team intervened taking all the 10 speakers into custody.

"They mooted the idea of joining hands with China to fight Sri Lanka saying the Indian govt had miserably failed to uphold the right of Lankan Tamils," Tamil Nadu police accused.

Amidst the whole unfolding scenario, the Congress minister in New Delhi, G.K. Vasan announces Colombo-Thooththukkudi passenger ferry in February and Rameaswaram- Thalaimannaar ferry shortly, both with their existing communication network are advantageous to the Colombo-centric structure and its economic and demographic schemes.

Meanwhile, immediately following the agreement of the defence secretaries of New Delhi and Colombo last month, hundreds of trawlers from the Indian coast entered into the waters very close to Jaffna and Mannaar and by bottom trawling destroyed millions of rupees worth fishing nets of Eezham Tamil fishermen.

For over quarter a century the Eezham Tamil fishermen are restricted in several ways in their fishing by the occupying SL military. The Eezham Tamil fishermen don’t own any trawlers nowadays and they are engaged only in coastal fishing that too in restricted areas and in restricted times.

As oil drilling and shipping lane, involving mainly New Delhi’s interests, are in progress through the Palk Bay, observers sense a deeper scheme in bringing in a wedge between the Tamil fishing folk on either side of the Palk Bay and in making them to lose their feeling of belongingness of the waters. This approach of New Delhi may tally well with Colombo’s agenda of genocide and subjugation of the country of Eezham Tamils in the island.

Apart from India’s direct complicity against Eezham Tamils in the war, Colombo is further and further encouraged by India in every post-war move of subjugation of Eezham Tamils is the general feeling in the island, in Tamil Nadu and in the diaspora.

The ongoing terror campaign against unarmed Eezham Tamil civilians in the island, especially in the Jaffna peninsula, started and escalated with Indian Foreign Minister SM Krishna visiting Jaffna in November on the Heroes Day, with a subtle message thus attached, encouraging Colombo and treading on the national aspirations of Eezham Tamils.

New Delhi is making its most serious historical blunder in not recognising the national question of Eezham Tamils in the island, whatever the excuses may be.

It will not achieve anything by sabotaging the defence of the people on either side of the Palk Bay. To the utter misery of India, somebody else will fill in the vacuum successfully.

Some in the New Delhi establishment think that by exerting pressure on Colombo political models for peace could be achieved in the island. But, informed circles in Colombo say that the regime in Colombo knows what to do when any such pressure comes from India. The ruling circles in Colombo traditionally have a deep-rooted faith that only losers will be on the Indian side.

In fact, New Delhi should have been in the forefront in internationally campaigning to get political justice to the national question of Eezham Tamils and in materialising the justice as a test case in contemporary times. That would have enhanced its credibility and image domestically and internationally. That would have made many other nations all over the world to look upon India.

But the New Delhi establishment has chosen the negative approach of sitting on justice.

India is a unique experiment in contemporary human civilisation. Unlike China, the subcontinent was rarely a single political phenomenon in history.

The success of the Indian national movement and the feasibility of independent India in the unification of the multitudes of nations and masses lie in certain values conceived by the peoples and leaders of India in the past.

India has to lead the move to the next stage of evolution in the region, for its own domestic credibility, if not for anybody else.

Justice to the national question of Eezham Tamils is a test case for India, deciding its international credibility, domino effect of its influence in the region and its own integrity in the southern flank.

India could hardly pass the test by aligning or guaranteeing a state chronic in its genocidal attitude in the island next to it.


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