New chapter in Tamil struggle for political rights – A response – I
Posted on June 6th, 2012

By Nalin de Silva Courtesy The Island

It is very clear that R. Sampanthan told the fourteenth national convention of the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) held recently in Batticaloa to work with him to invite the western countries to give them Eelam. He has not come out with the truth in his arguments but he has made it clear that he wants an Eelam and nothing else. In essence, what he says is that the Tamils have not been successful in establishing an Eelam through so-called peaceful means at first and then through an armed struggle, and the only option now available is to invite the western powers and India to intervene and establish an Eelam.

This is the so-called new (fourth, the first being the attempt by the English from about 1825 to 1947 to make the English educated Vellalas the leaders of the country, the second and the third respectively being the so-called peaceful means of Tamil racism, and bloodshed by terrorists led by Prabhakaran and supported by ITAK to whom the terrorists were their boys) chapter he is talking about, giving the impression that the west and India had been against Tamil terrorism and Tamil racism until recently. He hides the fact that England had been with the Tamil leaders from the very beginning in the twenties of the nineteenth century and had wanted the latter to become the leaders of Sri Lanka and weaken Sinhala nationalism against English colonialism from 1817. Many people who claim that Sri Lanka won independence without a struggle and bloodshed forget that the Sinhala people had fought against the English to win independence shed a sea of blood in the process.

The massacre of the Sinhalas in Uva Vellassa in 1817-1818 and in Matale and Sathkorale in 1848 by the English “ƒ”¹…”humanitarians’ will not be forgotten by the ordinary Sinhala people. It is the historians trained by the English who think that independence was achieved through petitioning to the Whitehall in London. Later towards the end of the nineteenth century the emphasis of the anti-colonial independence struggle was on the cultural component rather than on the political component, and the aforesaid historians are prepared to ignore these heroic anti-colonial struggles led by Anagarika Dharmapala and the Bhikkus. The English trained historians want to erase these independence struggles from history as it was the Sinhalas, especially the Sinhala Buddhists who fought against colonialism. As far as these historians are concerned independence struggle began after the aborted Ceylonese nation was created by the English first under the leadership of the Burghers then under English educated Vellalas.

In order to remind Sampanthan how the west supported Tamil terrorism even as late as April 2009, I quote the following passage as it appeared in a website. “ƒ”¹…”(the website had) found from a leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database, dated April 17,2009. The cable is classified as “CONFIDENTIAL” and written by the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka Robert O. Blake. The cable details the outcome of the April 16-17 visit to Sri Lanka by UNSYG Chief of Staff Vijay Nambiar and civilians evacuate plans ( the international community had. The cable also details the meetings the diplomatic community has had with Defense Secretary, the Foreign Minister and the President of Sri Lanka. Ambassador Blake wrote “Ambassador warned the Minister that if the government pursued a military option without first allowing high-level diplomacy a chance, Sri Lanka could expect escalating international criticism and actions to demonstrate the international community’s concern. The Ambassador said such actions could include suspension of aid to Sri Lanka, closer scrutiny of IMF lending, possible war crimes investigations, and perhaps other actions.” The website does not refer to what Nambiar was up to in Colombo, namely organizing the departure of Prabhakaran and the other terrorist leaders by ship.

Conspiracy

In any event what is happening now by stages is what Blake warned, and we know what is meant by other actions. It is this other action that Sampanthan wants the west to execute in order to establish an Eelam. If the President had not stood up to pressure exerted by the west and India he would not have had any problems regarding war crimes. He would have been hailed as a democratic leader. Nambiars, Blakes and Sampanthans together with Prabhakaran have failed and now they want to turn to chapter four in Tamil racism. Though we did not have access to these cables then, we knew the plans of the west and their henchmen and henchwomen operating in Sri Lanka promoting so called peace process while supporting the LTTE in their attempt to establish Eelam, with money and weapons. We are not fools to believe that the LTTE income was only from extortions, donations, drug deals and other vulture ventures. When Sampanthan says, “We gather here following our victory in the passage of the recent Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, a condemnation against the Sri Lankan government by the international community, which has recognized that the Sri Lankan government has committed the crime of extermination against our people, and that it continues to deny them their political rights.” he is only “ƒ”¹…”postdicting’ what Blake had “ƒ”¹…”predicted’ in the leaked cable.

If Sampanthan wants to show that the English were not involved in promoting English speaking Vellala leaders over the English educated Sinhalas, he is trying to deceive himself. It was the English who created Tamil racism after the Dutch, and who nurtured Tamil racism in the nineteenth, twentieth centuries and up to now in the twenty first century. After about 1975, the west and the Indians supported Tamil terrorism which would not have survived without the support of the former. Sampanthan tries to create the impression that the west and India were against Tamil racism and terrorism but those who have witnessed all the manipulations know how Solheim, Dixit and others including Blake got involved in sponsoring Tamil terrorism after seventies in the guise of promoting peace talks. It is true that the first three chapters of Tamil racism are now closed without any substantial gain for the Tamil racists. It is also true that the Tamil racists are not in a position to go through the whole exercise again as it is difficult to organize the ordinary Tamils who have suffered a lot under Prabhakaran to fight against the government and the Sinhalas.

Lessons unlearnt

What Sampanthan and other Tamil leaders should have done was to ponder why Tamil racism had failed in the first three chapters. Had they done that they would have realized that the Tamil leaders supported by the west (England at first) and India were only flogging a dead horse. They had based themselves on wrong history, misguided belief in the English who wanted to use them against the Sinhalas who fought colonialism, and at least by now they should have learnt their lessons. However, Sampanthan is not prepared to learn and wants to fulfil the ambitions of the ITAK. He states, “What clearly emerged during this time of degradation of the Tamil people was that the Tamil community lacked a source of power “”…” both from within and outside it. Following this history of humiliation and betrayal, a position emerged that the only solution to this problem was the establishment of a separate government for the Tamil people. It was on this basis that the Tamil United Liberation Front, of which our party was a member, took the historical decision to establish the separate government of Tamil Eelam in 1976. Based on this decision of our party, and the need to place ourselves in a position of strength, Tamil youth decided to oppose violence with violence and began to rise up as armed rebel groups.” His claim that the Tamils lacked a source of power is not correct. They had the support of the English from the very beginning but so-called struggles cannot be won by resorting to lies.

Killings justified

Samapnthan is justifying all the murders that the LTTE is responsible for, and in the process forgets that Alfred Duraiappa was killed before the Vadukkodai resolution adopted in 1976. He also forgets that the LTTE was a creation of the ITAK that engaged in bogus non violent protests which were really invitation for the misguided radicals to resort to violence. ITAK or the so-called Federal Party from 1949 had been instigating the Tamils against the Sinhala people and the government, through their Sathyagrahs and other so-called non-violent activities. The ITAK leaders and the other English educated Vellalas who could not hold on to their privileged positions in the Colombo society as the leaders of the Ceylonese and who did not have the strength to fight the government after 1949, as the English who were the patrons of Tamil racism had departed by then, wanted the ordinary Tamils to fight on behalf of them against the Sinhala people. ITAK together with India who trained the terrorists is responsible for all the crimes committed by the LTTE though ironically some of the leaders of the ITAK as well as Rajiv Gandhi were victims of the LTTE. Smpanthan, who is not prepared to learn any lesson, as no option but to turn to the west and India and also to the dispersed Tamils in the western countries (Chapter Four) wrongly referred to as the diaspora appealing to Biblical stories, in order to achieve his and his party’s ambition of a separate Tamil state.

(To be continued)

10 Responses to “New chapter in Tamil struggle for political rights – A response – I”

  1. AnuD Says:

    Sri Lankan South has parks and forests which are encroached by civilians for more settlements. The Govt should enlarge these parks with proper boundary zones people in those encroached areas should be settled in the N & E. Upcountry catchment areas of rivers also should be banned for dwellings and those people also should be settles in the low country. It is the same with Colombo shanties or slums what ever you call it.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    “Samapnthan forgets that Alfred Duraiappa was killed before the Vadukkodai resolution adopted in 1976. He also forgets that the LTTE was a creation of the ITAK that engaged in bogus non violent protests which were really invitation for the misguided radicals to resort to violence.

    This is where Prof Silva got it WRONG.

    Chimpanzan does NOT forget these. He knows these facts and he PRAISES these facts.

    1. AD was considred a “Tamil traitor” by ITAK like Douglas D today. ITAK celebrated his death.
    2. LTTE was created from the willing intercourse between India and ITAK.
    3. “Non-violent” was a cover-up CREATED by ITAK to push violence.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Foolish govt has reduced the army to just 15,000 in Jaffna.

    This is a grave mistake the dumb govt will REGRET SOON.

    Mark my word, London type of protests will happen in Jaffna in another 3 years’ time.

    Actually it has started in a small scale.

    1. LTTE flags used in May Day TNA rally.
    2. Burning constitutions.
    3. OPEN protests by university students AGAINST the army.
    4. BRITISH HC planned to be opened in Jaffna like US and Indian crap.
    5. de facto seperate area mentality is GROWING.
    6. At the next presidential election Run-NIL will promise (he has already promised) to 100% demilitarise Jaffna peninsula. He will be given a hero’s welcome in the election campaign. His opponents (Rajapakshas) will be treated like in London.Actually it will be WORSE than London as TNA will burn tyres, cut down trees, collect excreta by the roadside, people will sing curse chants, some will throw stones. When army/police responds, that will creates a MAJOR international cry and unify even other Tamils in the country. They will parade the wounded/dead THROUGHOUT the country and Tamil Nadu.

  4. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Tamil National Alliance Election Manifesto 2004

    “…..Accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people, let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers’ struggle with honesty and steadfastness.Let us endeavour determinedly, collectively as one group, one nation, one country, transcending race and religious differences, under the leadership of the LTTE for a life of liberty, honor and justice for the Tamil people….”

    Tamil National Alliance Election Manifesto 2001

    “……..unless meaningful negotiations are held with the L.T.T.E. no just solution can be found to the Tamil national question and that such negotiations should be held immediately only with the LTTE. This Alliance further states that in order to ensure that the negotiations are properly focused and are purposeful and successful, no parallel negotiations should take place with any other Tamil political formation…..”

    Vaddukkoddai Resolution 1976 May 14

    “…And this Convention calls upon the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached….”

    Tamils need to realize that aligning themselves to political parties that aspire separatism is unlikely to get them anywhere. Neither will these parties ever be able to come into power nor will the Tamil people be regarded as Sri Lankans until they shirk themselves from the desire to separate. Aligning to political parties that work towards their own policies of development in Sri Lanka is certainly different to aligning & voting for political parties that openly desire to separate. These political parties may have vocalized separatism out of fear during the LTTE pogrom however with the LTTE eliminated when they continue to openly work towards separatism it means that the dangers of rebels emerging still exists & the Government has every right to continue the high security zone areas throughout the North & East as well as monitor the areas for such movements coming up. We must not forget that the LTTE started out as a group of just a handful of brainwashed youth & became the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit.

    Tamils need to now look within and understand & accept their own errors post-LTTE defeat & rethink how they should function amongst Sri Lankan society.

  5. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah was a Mayor in 1971 when Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran of Urumpirai threw a hand bomb at Duraiappah`s car. Sivakumaran was arrested in February 1972 for throwing the hand bomb at Duraiappah`s car parked along First Cross Street. Duraiappah had walked up to the Jaffna Rest House and was having tea with Jaffna Magistrate Colin Mendis when Sivakumaran threw the bomb.

    It was a Friday evening and as was his custom Alfred Thambirajah Duraiappah arrived at Ponalai Krishna temple for prayer with two friends even though he was a Christian. The Tamil youth assassins who were waiting for his arrival, went towards the three passenger doors of the 4-door car as the car halted. The intention was to kill Duraiappah and both his friends. When one of them got down through the back door he noticed a short youth pointing a pistol at him. His friend, Yoganathan pushed the youth aside, toppling him to the ground and ran to the nearby boutique selling soft drinks. The other friend Rajaratnam was injured but managed to run away. Duraiappah who was shot at fell to the ground. The killers then over powered the Mayor’s chauffer and escaped in his car with one Pathkunam at the wheel.

    There was no attempt made by the assassins to go after Yoganathan who ran into the boutique. The woman who was managing the boutique called out to Yoganathan when the assassins got away. He came out and found his friend Duraiappah gushing out blood and crying for water. Placing the dying Duraiappah on his lap he poured some aerated water into his mouth. Duraiappah then breathed his last.

    Years later Yoganathan identified the youth as Prabhakaran after seeing a photograph of him as the youth who stood before him with a pointed pistol after having shot Duraiappah. But others have suggested that the assassin was one Kanapathy, a member of the group of these Tamil assassins

    .This assassination sent shock waves through out the government circles. It affected a severe blow to the SLFP government of Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike whose interests Mayor Duraippah represented. Thus he was considered as a traitor by the Tamil guerrilla’s. This was a warning to all Tamils who betrayed the Tamil separatist cause.Nine MPs (and not ten) were missing on Dec.3, 1964. Speaker of the House counts as the tenth MP. If there had occurred a tie (like 73 for and 73 against the No Confidence Motion) in voting, the Speaker’s vote would have decided the outcome. As the Speaker was elected from the governing party ranks, it was assumed that the Speaker would have voted for the government. That was one reason that the vote of S.Thondaman Sr.(who was then an appointed MP) against the government was considered as a critical vote that decided the outcome. Why Thondaman voted against the government on that day? Later he wrote in his autobiography, that he was rather humiliated by the action of primeminister Sirimavo Bandaranaike signing a pact with the then Indian Primeminister Lal Bahadur Shastri on repatriation of Indians residing in plantations, without consulting him.March 1960

    Total electorate: 24,299, Total votes polled: 17,473, Percent votes polled 71.97.

    A.T. Duraiappah (Independent) 6,201 votes

    G.G. Ponnambalam (Tamil Congress) 5,312 votes

    S. Kathiravelupillai (Federal Party) 5,101 votes

    A. Visuvanathan (LSSP) 767 votes.

    Majority for Duraiappah 889 votes.

    July 1960

    Total electorate: 24,299, Total votes polled: 18,056, Percent votes polled 74.31.

    A.T. Duraiappah (Independent) 6,313 votes

    G.G. Ponnambalam (Tamil Congress) 6,015 votes

    S. Kathiravelupillai (Federal Party) 5,644 votes.

    Majority for Duraiappah 298 votesI provide details on how Alfred Duraiappah became a member of parliament for Jaffna. He contested four general elections as an Independent candidate. He won two and lost two. His two victories in 1960 were marginal rather than astounding, with victory margin of less than 1,000 votes. In the March 1960 election, he defeated G.G. Ponnambalam, the ‘sitting MP’ for Jaffna by a majority of 889 votes. One contributory reason that was in favor of Duraiappah in 1960 was that the ‘old’ Jaffna constituency represented by Ponnambalam was split into two (Jaffna and Nallur) following the 1959 Delimitation Commission recommendations.
    Eventually the first major wing of the library was opened in 1959 by then Jaffna mayor Alfred Duraiappah. Sivakumaran who threw bomb at Somaweera Chandrasiri also made another unsuccessful attempt to kill Alfred Duraippah, the Jaffna Mayor, in February 1971
    The problem faced by Ponnambalam in the North was similar to the problem faced by the UNP leaders in the South, like Dudley Senanayake (in Dedigama constituency) and J.R. Jayawardene (in Kelaniya constituency). Population increase-based splitting of ‘old’ electorates into new ones with smaller voter base sliced the ‘loyalty-pie vote’ of ranking leaders. Though Dudley Senanayake, until his death in 1973, was successful in getting re-elected with reduced margins from Dedigama, J.R. Jayawardene (sensing his declining fortunes in Kelaniya after his loss in 1956), switched to Colombo South constituency in July 1960 onwards.

    Ponnambalam represented the Jaffna constituency in the 1947, 1952 and 1956 elections. In 1956, the total electorate for Jaffna constituency was 34,804 and total votes polled were 22,178. Percent votes polled 63.72. In a four-cornered contest, Ponnambalam received 8,914 votes and won against E.M.V. Naganathan (Federal Party) with a majority of 1,741 votes. In the March 1960 election, the total electorate for Jaffna constituency became reduced to 24,299, a decrease of 10,505 vote base. In proportionate terms, Ponnambalam’s vote count slid from 8,914 (in 1956) to 5,312 (in March 1960). Duraiappah was able to exploit this slide for his advantage. As I indicated in part 1, that his wife Dr. Parames Duraiappah was a niece of Ponnambalam was also marginally helpful in cleaving the ‘family-oriented’ voters.To be fair, Mrs. Duraiappah was a respected personality of her times. She was a niece of G.G. Ponnambalam Sr. (1902-1977). Being medically qualified, Mrs. Duraiappah quit the Sri Lankan health services (after working at Lady Ridgeway Hospital and Castle Street Maternity Home in Colombo and at Jaffna Hospital), and served at Brunei Government Medical Services from 1967 until her death on January 15, 1988. Duraiappahs had a daughter Rochana (Esha), who married an accountant, David Begho in UK.
    Alfred Thangarajah Durayappah, born on 15th July 1926, was the son of Durayappah, who pioneered the ice and aerated water manufacturing industry in Vannarpannai, Jaffna. Alfred has his education at St. John’s College, and became a Proctor, S.C., at the age of 22. He entered Local Government politics and was elected Deputy Mayor of Jaffna Municipal Council at 23. Later he was chosen as Mayor and held office during 1961-62 and again in 1966. During his regime, several improvement works were added to Jaffna town. The public library, Jaffna water supply, model market, all received attention and the Durayappah Stadium was also erected then.
    Known as the ‘People’s Mayor’, he was an active politician, and founded the ‘Suthanthiram’ Party in Jaffna. However his political views were not acceptable to many in Jaffna. He was assassinated near the Ponnalai Varatharaja Perumal Temple, when he went to worship on July 27, 1975. He was given a state funeral.
    In post-independent Sri Lankan history, a crucial vote in parliament was taken on December 3, 1964. In this Vote of No Confidence, the then coalition government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike was defeated by the Opposition (74 for Opposition and 73 for Government). In brief, the total number of MPs in the roll call were 157 (151 elected MPs and 6 nominated MPs). Ten were missing on that day. One of the missing ten was Alfred Duraiappah. What happened to Duraiappah on that day? Was he aware that there was a crucial vote on that day, and somehow absented inadvertently or intentionally? Was he on an unavailable sick leave? Was he out of the island? As a fence-sitter, did he ‘bite the carrot’ that J.R. Jayawardene dangled for him, and absented himself at the opportune moment, and pulled Sirima Bandaranaike’s leg? Mrs. Bandaranaike’s piquant remark on the action of 14 SLFP MPs and 2 nominated MPs who deserted her on that day was ‘a stab in the back’. Did Duraiappah, by his absence, also stab Mrs. Bandaranaike on that day?

    When Dahanayake brought the no confidence motion against the Government, nobody believed that the Government would lose. It was talked about that if Duraiappah, who represented the Jaffna constituency then, was present in the House the Government would have escaped from that loss. This Duraiappah was the one who beat G.G. Ponnambalam to become the Jaffna MP. A fun-loving person. He would mingle freely with anyone. It cannot be forgotten that as the mayor of Jaffna, he contributed to the city’s development. He carried the dream that he wished to turn Jaffna into a modern city with all facilities. However, when the International Tamil Research Conference was held in Jaffna, he earned a bad image from people because of his pro-government activities. The youth believed that because of his tactless act, nine persons had to lose their lives. Thus, he became the first political leader to lose his life in the Tamil Eelam Freedom Struggle. His assassination marks the commencement of violent campaign.

    Durayappah married Dr Parames (daughter of Engineer Cumaraswamy) who after holding a high position in the public health service of the Brunei Government passed away in 1989 . Their daughter Rochana is a graduate teacher

    Alfred Duraiappah born in 1926, was Jaffna’s independent MP from 1960-65 and several times mayor was a popular figure. Although this is denied by many Tamil nationalists, the fact is that in all elections for the Jaffna seat, the votes were equally split between him, the Tamil Congress and the Federal Party. His appeal had nothing to do with his representing any great ideal or principle in politics. He knew his constituents individually and tried to make everyone feel that he was part of their family. He greeted people on the road and inquired about their studies and personal matters. He catered to the needs of people for the normal business of life to go on. He dealt in jobs, transfers, market buildings, public lavatories and streetlights. It suited him to have government patronage for his style of politics, and so he aligned himself with the SLFP.

    He had no interest in projecting himself outside the Jaffna electorate, but in that prestigious electorate, he posed a potent challenge to the nationalist TUF (Federal Party). He had a vote bank in the significant business, Muslim and Sinhalese communities and the urban poor. This popularity of Duraiappah’s irked the nationalists. This nationalism sought to impose on the very materialistic society in Jaffna, a hypocritical facade that the people were ready to sacrifice all ordinary needs and desires in life for some vague purist idea of Nation. Duraiappah exposed that hypocrisy.

    From 1972, the TUF (FP) launched vicious attacks on Duraiappah calling him a traitor worthy of death. At the beginning, it may have been a stunt to win the Jaffna seat. But the more they articulated it, the more they began to believe it to be only right and natural that his end should come. An important event in the vilification of Duraiappah was the International Tamil Research Conference of January 1974.

    The research forum series was launched by Fr. X. Thaninayagam, who was an eminent Tamil scholar. The first conference was held in 1966 in Kuala Lumpur and opened by Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahuman. It had been supported generously by the Malaysian government. The 1974 conference was, initially, expected to be held in Colombo, but the organisers decided to shift it to Jaffna.

    Once the conference was shifted to Jaffna, the TUF inevitably tried to make political capital out of it. (Note: The Federal Party (FP) joined a larger alliance, the Tamil United Front (TUF) which included the Tamil Congress and Ceylon Workers’ Congress on 14th May 1972. The TUF became the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) on 14th May 1976 after adopting the policy of separation from Sri Lanka. The CWC then dropped out saying that they cannot go along with separatism.) There were however good reasons for the shift of the conference to Jaffna and there is no reason to believe that the organisers connived with the TUF. But the Government was nervous and four delegates who came to Sri Lanka for the conference were sent back. But in Jaffna itself there was great public enthusiasm over the event. The scholarly conference was held in Veerasingham Hall from 3rd to 9th January. There was a popular demand to hear the foreign delegates and this public event was fixed for the evening of the 10th.

    The police permit to have the meeting, which ended on the 9th, was extended to the 10th on a gentlemen’s understanding between ASP Chandrasekera and Dr Mahadeva, the chief conference organiser. The latter undertook to ensure that Janarthanan, a politician from Tamil Nadu who was not a delegate, would not speak. Janarthanan was seen at the TUF (FP) office on 2nd Cross Street that evening, according to a witness, talking to Amirthalingam. But the question of the legality of his presence had been raised neither by the de Kretzer nor Sansoni commissions (see below) and ASP Chandrasekera, according to Sansoni, had encountered Janarthanan the previous day and warned him not to speak in public.

    The organisers had earlier planned to hold the final meeting in the open-air theatre for which authorisation had been obtained from the Jaffna mayor, Mr. Duraiappah. But because there had been a shower on the 9th, the organisers decided to shift the final meeting to the Veerasingham Hall. But on the 10th the crowds started squeezing into the Hall and many had to be content listening from outside. Seeing there was no rain, the organisers at the last minute decided to go back to the open air theatre. They tried to contact the mayor (Duraiappah) and the municipal commissioner to gain access to the theatre, but were unsuccessful.

    The organisers quickly prepared an ‘ad hoc’ stage outside the Hall, but within the premises, facing the KKS Road and the Jaffna esplanade. An estimated crowd of about 50,000 sat on the roads and on the esplanade, right up to the moat of Jaffna Fort. The Police were helpful in redirecting, the city traffic via Clock Tower Road towards Main Street, so that the crowds could listen without being disturbed. The meeting started late at 8PM and the chairman, Dr Vithyananthan, thanked the Police for their co-operation. The first speaker, Prof Naina Mohamed from South India, held the audience spell-bound.

    A little later, to everyone’s surprise a police party in riot gear started moving into the crowd westwards towards Veerasingham hall from the Clock Tower side, assaulting and roughly ordering the crowd to move aside. Pandemonium broke loose and seven civilians died of electrocution when a power line came down.

    The crowd panicked and dispersed. There was not a shred of evidence that Alfred Duraiappah was in any way the cause of this tragedy. But the fact that he was with the Government made the city father a ready scapegoat. The SLFP office on the Main Street was that same night attacked by a mob led by a man identified as a TUF supporter.

    Very quickly an effective propaganda campaign was unloosed accusing Duraiappah of responsibility for the tragedy and the deaths of the civilians. This was again a case of ‘corpse politics’. It was later carried to new heights by Prabhakaran, the LTTE supremo. If anyone, it is the TUF and Amirthalingam who should bear a large share of responsibility for the tragedy as will become evident in the sequel. Janarthanan went back to India and claimed that he had seen hundreds of corpses of those killed by the Police. The Veerakesari, the largest Tamil Daily, then editorially condemned Janarthanan’s irresponsible statements.

    The government of the day could have cleared up the matter by appointing a commission to go into it. But the government of Mrs Bandaranaike was so paranoid about it that it declined to do so. The matter was gone into by a three member unofficial commission headed by Justice O.L. de Kretzer. We will take this up in the next section.

    The Sansoni Commission Report quotes Mr J.D.Mitra Ariyasinghe who was then SP Jaffna, on a speech made by Mrs Amirthalingam. She spoke to a gathering opposite Munniappar Kovil on the occasion of a hartal organised by the Tamil United Front on February 09, 1974 in protest against the police action above. She is said to have referred to ASP Chandresekera as the person responsible for the deaths on 10th January and to Mr. Duraiappah as being a traitor who was behind the incident on that day.

    What Mrs Amirthalingam said is consistent with the politics of the TULF (i.e. TUF, FP) at that time. (E.g., on May 24, 1972 Kasi Anandan spoke at a meeting in protest against the new republican constitution. According to witnesses, Duraiappah was named by him as being among the traitors listed who should not die a natural death, but the nature of whose death should be determined by the younger generation. Chelvanayakam and Amirthalingam were then on the platform.) It may be noted that Duraiappah’s name did not crop up at the de Kretzer Commission hearings where the TUF had a role in producing witnesses, and Bishop Kulendran who was on the Commission was known for his leanings towards the Federal Party (TUF). Although Duraiappah as mayor may have preferred the organisers to have chosen the Jaffna Town Hall as the venue, there is no evidence to suggest that he was in any way hostile or uncooperative.

    Such was the nature of the build-up of hate towards Alfred Duraiappah. Those with nationalist sympathies had little difficulty in swallowing this propaganda and failed to ask where this was leading to. Planted in the minds of youth who were on the threshold of militancy, it was an instigation to kill.

    On July 27, 1975, Duraiappah was shot dead when he arrived by car at the Ponnalai Varadaraja Perumal Temple with two companions, as was his custom on Friday evenings. Prabhakaran was among the group of assassins who formed the incipient Tiger Movement. Testimony from one of Duraiappah’s companions is of interest.

    The assassins who were waiting went towards the three passenger doors of the 4-door car as it halted. The intention was to kill Duraiappah and both his companions. One of the latter, as he alighted through a rear door, saw a short youth pointing a pistol towards him and shivering. This companion, Yoganathan, pushed the youth aside, toppling him flat on the ground and ran into a nearby kiosk selling soft drinks. Another companion, Rajaratnam, was injured but managed to run away.

    The assassins, who were evidently nervous, took off in Duraiappah’s car with one Patkunam driving. No attempt was made to go for Yoganathan who was hiding in the kiosk. The woman who ran the kiosk called him out when the assassins were gone. He came out and found Duraiappah crying for water. Placing the dying man’s head on his lap, he poured some aerated water into his mouth. Duraiappah then breathed his last. Years later, upon seeing Prabhakaran’s picture, Yoganathan identified the youth, who had stood before him shivering, as Prabhakaran, and also became his admirer. Others have suggested that Kalapathy, another member of the group, had an appearance having some similarity to Prabhakaran’s.

    Yoganathan’s identification, if correct, points to a Prabhakaran who, in July 1975, still retained a healthy inhibition against killing. But not long afterwards he was instrumental in the murder of Patkunam who drove the car. The direction of his movement was set.

    As to the TULF (then TUF) directly instigating Duraiappah’s murder, there is no evidence. TULF pointed a pistol at Duraiappah and looked the other side, knowing that someone would pull the trigger. Some TULF leaders had contact with these militant youth – which became semi-formal in 1976 after a meeting between Amirthalingam and the central committee of the LTTE. The indications are that Prabhakaran remained loyal to Amirthalingam into the early 1980s.

    Mrs Yogeswaran, the TULF Mayor of Jaffna, was assassinated by the LTTE in May 1998. A columnist in the Sanjeevi published in Jaffna, later wrote that Mrs Yogeswaran had told him that Prabhakaran called on her husband in Jaffna soon after murdering Duraiappah and she had served him tea. Yogeswaran became the TULF’s Jaffna MP in 1977 and was known to have been consorting with militant youth.

    The columnist’s claim must however be treated with some scepticism. This was not the kind of thing nervous assassins would do when there was a police net out for them. To escape to India, Prabhakaran would have made for the northern coast rather than to Jaffna town. On his own testimony to a schoolmate, this is what he had done. He climbed a banyan tree near a temple in Thondamanaru and hid there for three days until the naval alert was down. Moreover, Duraiappah’s car in which they escaped had been driven northwards and was abandoned near Senthankulam on the north coast.

    However the hate campaign against those who disagreed with nationalist claims and the very act of usurping the right to Duraiappah’s life, set the direction of Tamil politics on the course of tragedy. Grief over Duraiappah’s death brought forth an outpouring of tears. Today there are no tears left.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    Thanks NT.

    “March 1960

    A.T. Duraiappah (Independent) 6,201 votes

    G.G. Ponnambalam (Tamil Congress) 5,312 votes

    S. Kathiravelupillai (Federal Party) 5,101 votes

    July 1960

    A.T. Duraiappah (Independent) 6,313 votes

    G.G. Ponnambalam (Tamil Congress) 6,015 votes

    S. Kathiravelupillai (Federal Party) 5,644 votes.”

    Federal Party = Illankai Tamil Arse Kachchi (ITAK)

    The key is to DIVIDE AND RULE Tamils. When ACTC and ITAK was divded, our man could win. NOT OTHERWISE.

    So if the govt wants to defeat TNA, DIVIDE Tamils, Tamil parties and pit them against EACH OTHER.

    NEVER EVER let Tamils unite!!

  7. Naram Says:

    I also like to know why I our respected leaders do not settle Muslim folks presently living as refugees in other parts of the country in their former abode – Jaffna in suitable accommodation as the first priority. It must be impressed on the Indian Embassy who seem to admit some guilt over the debacles that ethnically cleansed Muslims is the group in most urgent need for redress and they will need protection and support once settled from any resurgent terroris factions.

    Perhaps Nalliah enlighten us on how the Muslim folks were passed by historically in the 50 – 70 period, when Jaffna schools reached very high standards in Science education keeping everyone from HHambantota or or Badulla out of University education. Successful schools were government funded but how did Vellala folks amanage to keep Vellalas out. Sinhala organizations never tried to do a similar feat to keep from well funded government schools and in fact Muslims had their own school Zahira.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Time to write up a serious LLRC for Tamil Leaders of Lanka. Call it LLRC (TLL). As Tamil leaders may not comply, may be concerned academics and all concerned other people should prepare such a document and present it to President & Parliament, Tamil leaders of Lanka and all Embassies throughout the world. It would be starting point for Reformation of the Tamils of Lanka, leading to true integration and peace which the ordinary Tamil person craves. Such a document would be a reference point for foreigners seeking clarification on the Sri Lanka Tamil grievances, and a written defence of GoSLs, past and present.

    The alternative, Eelam, is to ensure Vellala English speaking Tamil Leaders (VETLs) jackboot over the rest of the Tamils on a forever basis, with reinstatement of the Caste structure for absolute control. Now, who wants that, expect for the VETLs ?

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    typo corrected : read as “…. except for the VETLs”

  10. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Hello Naram
    In Sri Lanka, the schools in thirteen out of twenty two districts did not produce a single engineering or medicine student until 1974. Two districts enjoyed several times their fair share.
    Jaffna Tamils only worry about themselves.
    University education in Sri Lanka begin with University College Colombo (1921). But real university education began at Batticotta (1823, now Jaffna College – Vaddukoddai)) and the Wesleyan Seminary (1834, now Jaffna Central College. By the 1890s St. John’s, Central and Jaffna Colleges were successfully presenting candidates for the First in Arts of Madras and Calcutta.
    Sir James Emerson Tennent (Colonial Secretary) said in a letter dated Jaffna, March 23, 1848 after observing the examinations being conducted at Batticotta and the Wesleyan Seminary: “The Collegiate Institution of Batticotta is entitled to rank with many an European University. I was present a few days after at a similar examination of the kindred Seminary of the Wesleyan Methodists at Jaffna, conducted by Mr. Percival, one of the most profound Tamil scholars now in India [as Professor and Registrar at Madras]; the course of study was nearly the same, the students taken from the same rank of the natives, and the display of classical learning and scientific attainment which I witnessed was in no degree inferior to that with which I had been so much charmed at the American Seminary.”

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