Dilemma of Choice for Northerners: Be Part of India or Tamil Eelam?
Posted on October 14th, 2013

Dilrook Kannangara

Fuelled by the fears of the Cold War (1945-1991), India tried to annex the northern part of Sri Lanka in the late 20th century. It was an attempt to safeguard its territory and use an external territory to project power. Indian islands including Andaman, Wheeler and Nicobar islands are heavily used for offensive power projection. These are essentially military bases. In case of a confrontation, it will be these islands that will take the brunt of an enemy attack saving the Indian mainland.
The New Great Game has renewed Cold War fears and India is at it again. New Delhi is once again following its hegemonic agenda of annexing the northern part of the island. This is the context of the Northern Provincial Council election and Sampur events which immediately followed. TNA-â„¢s tremendous election victory in the north masked the true undercurrents beneath. Although TNA and EPDP on principle agree with the division of Sri Lanka to create a Tamil nation, the extent of their commitment differ.
New Delhi Camp and Mulaitivu Camp
TNA won 30 out of 38 seats of the Northern Provincial Council -” a tremendous election win by any standard. Taking out the five (4) Sinhala and Muslim seats out of 36 seats contested, TNA bagged 90% of the Tamil vote. In addition EPDP -” another party campaigning for Tamil Eelam – won two (2) seats making the total separatist tally 32 seats out of 38.
Wigneswaran is an Indian in all his intents and purposes. TNA leadership has been mustered by India following the defeat of the LTTE. His Sinhala relatives are also very strong pro-Indian politicians. Ironically it was the LTTE that stood in the way of the final stage of the Indian annexation project 1987-1990. Indian government handpicked pro-Indians from a hastily amassed group named EPRLF in 1988 to represent the Northern Province. No elections were held for the Northern Province; only the Eastern Province faced an election. However, LTTE started an abduction-and-assassination campaign against the EPRLF and TNA (Tamil National Army -” a paramilitary group set up by the Indians to protect the EPRLF). Wigneswaran leads the New Delhi Camp of the TNA. Although from the EPDP, the two EPDP councillors also support the New Delhi Camp. This camp also supports Indian annexation of the Northern Province. TNA councillors with strong LTTE connections have been sidelined from ministerial posts in the Northern Province to please India.
A rival camp is piloted by another TNA stalwart who lost the post to Wigneswaran at the TNA caucus before the election. It is the Mulaitivu Camp. This camp opposes Indian annexation of the Northern Province and its main objective is to create Tamil Eelam. It is more aligned to the LTTE, the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu than India. They are driven by Tamil Nationalism to create a separate nation for Tamils.
Needless to say the New Delhi camp is heavily backed by India. Immediately after TNA-â„¢s victory, India despatched a negotiator to bargain a deal. Given the scant respect Sri Lanka shows to South Indian negotiators, this time India chose a North Indian. Sri Lankan government agreed to allow the Indian Sampur project, lift the ban on imports from substandard Indian pharmaceutical companies and to further demilitarise the north. In return India got its puppet Wigneswaran to take office at Temple Trees.
Impact and Reaction of Tamil Nadu
Developments in the Northern Province have a huge impact on Tamil Nadu which has been inducing Lankan Tamils towards Tamil Nationhood. It was‚ a case of transferred intention. Despite the strong desire to achieve nationhood, Tamil Nadu is prevented from taking any step towards separatism by India-â„¢s full implementation of anti-separatist laws since 1962. Tamil Nadu wants Lankan Tamils to take the leadership in creating a Tamil Nation by the name Tamil Eelam which will be then used to gain independence from India, if needed. While Tamil Nadu has economic, cultural, defence and religious reasons not to leave India, threats of separatism was always used as a bargaining device.
It was very unlike of Tamil Nadu not to have celebrated the mighty TNA win. Given its loud and rowdy support for the TNA cause (Tamil Eelam), Tamil Nadu was expected to break into partying following the massive TNA win. But not a whisper! In fact Tamil Nadu is in a state of mourning as the New Delhi Camp took charge of the Northern Province. Delhi architected the entire episode to dilute the threat posed by Tamil nationalists in Tamil Nadu on India. It came as a slap on the face of Wigneswaran when Tamil Nadu Chief Minister refused to meet him.
Tamil Diaspora is also in a state of shock as the New Delhi camp is not their ideal partner.
India achieved in 2013 what it failed to achieve in 1987 -” an established New Delhi controlled provincial council in the north. Dayan Jayatillake played a unique role in both these events. Previous Indian attempt ended with the dissolution of the Northern and Eastern Provincial Council, decimation of the TNA, withdrawal of IPKF in 1990 and dismemberment of the then Indian Prime Minister a year later by Tamils.
Another avenue to an Independent Tamil nation has been blocked and it is felt very badly in Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nationhood demand will resurface from another avenue. Four main options remain open for Tamil Nadu.
Four Tamil Options to Continue Tamil Nationhood Demand
First option is a restart of the Dravidistan campaign with a narrow focus on Tamil Nadu where separatism burns as bright as it always did. It will be a bold step given India-â„¢s severe crackdown on all forms of separatism. However, Tamil Diaspora and China are all for the disintegration of India and if Tamil Nadu can reach out to them, it will work against all odds. India is amassing troops in Kashmir, the border with China and Pakistan and at the same time expanding its naval forces for power projection. Opening up a new avenue of troop deployment will be extremely beneficial to India-â„¢s rivals. For Sri Lanka, this is the least intrusive option.
Second option for Tamil Nadu is to support the Mulaitivu Camp to instigate for full Tamil Elam. Given their lack of power it is not likely to work. Third option for Tamil Nadu‚ is rearming a Tamil terrorist groups against Sri Lanka. LTTE and other Tamil terrorist groups were armed by India. Tamil Nadu will be unable to replicate it.
Fourth option is to get the TNA New Delhi camp to progress towards full Tamil nationhood gradually. This is likely to be their preferred cause of action. India completely supports the full nationhood of Tamil Eelam and may even help with a UN seat for it. Tamil Elam will be the outlet of Tamil national and more importantly international aspirations while Tamil Nadu will remain part of India benefitting from Indian economic and military strength. This is the least favourable option for Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka Rendered Irrelevant?
‚ Sri Lanka was irrelevant in the happenings in the Northern Province since 2009. Apart from holding elections, development work, bringing peace and paying for expenses in the north, Sri Lanka has been and will be totally irrelevant to the workings of the north. In other words Sri Lankan government was a mere spectator and a facilitator at most in what happens in the north. Therefore, nothing much can be expected from the Colombo central government. The LTTE olive branch option open to President Premadasa to disrupt the Indian annexation project is not available to President Rajapakse.
What we witness is‚ Sri Lankan government’s‚ tacit approval of de facto right of Tamil self determination. Rajapakse administration is likely to continue its spectator role in years ahead. If 1987 Indian invasion was a foreign policy failure on the part of Sri Lanka, 2013 is a much worse foreign and national security policy debacle.

Meanwhile the Northerners face a dilemma of choice between India and Tamil Eelam while Sri Lanka‚ has been sidelined‚ and is merely a spectator to power games between Tamils and New Delhi.

8 Responses to “Dilemma of Choice for Northerners: Be Part of India or Tamil Eelam?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Foolish Tamils have been fooled yet again by ITAK!

    Now they realize there is no use of PCs without land powers. Slow learners.

  2. mario_perera Says:

    Very powerful insights unraveling less obvious but highly realistic dimensions of the Indian grip on Sri Lanka. The Indian game plan has shifted from the Indian periphery to the Indian center. This Island is the key to Indian hegemony over the Indian Ocean. Our leaders are sleep walking from one daylight trap into another.

    Mario Perera

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    The TNA is SO EMBOLDENED by the PC Election, that it NOW openly calls for boycott of the CHOGM meeting in Sri Lanka!

    TRAITORS INCARNATE … pure & simple!

    The GOSL should take note, how empowerment of Unpunished Separatists leads to GREATER TREACHERY!

    The “Mannar Bishop” Rayappu Joseph is orchestrating the treachery from the sidelines! He should be DEFROCKED!

    Sri Lanka Tamil alliance accused of following decisions of one member party

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 13, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s major Tamil party, Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is accused of working according to the decisions taken by one member of the coalition and ignoring the voices of other parties in the alliance.

    Former MP M. K. Shivajilingam of TELO, one of the constituent parties of TNA, says that although the TNA is an alliance of five parties, the party is controlled by the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK).

    As a result, the members of three constituent parties boycotted the Friday’s swearing-in ceremony of the members elected from the TNA to the Northern Provincial Council.

    Nine members of EPRLF, TELO and TULF boycotted the swearing-in ceremony held at the Weerasingham Hall in Jaffna under the patronage of Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran.

    Addressing a press briefing held by the members of the three constituent parties and the elected councilors Saturday (12) in Jaffna to explain their decision to boycott the ceremony, Shivajilingam said that if they participated in the event it would have meant that they approve the decisions taken by the ITAK on its own without consulting other parties in the alliance.

    He said there is no truth to the statements that they boycotted the event because the TNA did not assign mistrial portfolios to the members of the three constituent parties. The real situation is that the TNA has ignored their concerns and suggestions.

    The dissident MPs to the Northern Provincial Council have decided to hold their own swearing-in ceremony on Monday (14) in Mullaitivu.

    However, the Bishop of Mannar Rayappu Joseph has come forward to mediate between the MPs and the TNA leadership to resolve the discord and the MPs have agreed to postpone the ceremony.

    The Mannar Bishop has volunteered to hold a meeting with all the constituent parties of the TNA about its future political goals.

  4. Ananda-USA Says:

    TNA’s demands will NEVER END. Provincial Council now, Land and Police Powers next, then Federal System to replace the Unitary System, onwards to Secession to form the SunGod’s Separate State of Eelam!

    The GOSL that sat by and presided over this DEBACLE must be held responsible for the FOLLY of not REVOKING the 13th Amendment imposed by INdia agaist SRi Lanka’s will, and not DEMOLISHING the Provincial Council system totally by leaf, branch, trunk and root.

    Every day, in every way, the INTEGRITY of Sovereign Unitary Nation of Sri Lanka subjected to GREATER risk of DISMEMBERMENT!

    RISE UP …. O Patriots of Sri Lanka … Rise up in yoru MILLIONS to defend and protect the safety and unity of your Motherland! Do NOT WAIT …. Until it is TOO LATE!

    Tamils Get Some Symbolic Power

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 14 (IPS) DHARMAPURAM, Sri Lanka- True democracy at last or a toothless tiger propped up to appease unfavourable international opinion? As Sri Lanka�s Northern Province got its first council after an election last month, many in this South Asian island nation were mulling this conundrum.

    For Tamil people long demanding a say in their affairs and emerging from a bitter and bloody 26-year war where the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) fought the government, the victory of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is an encouraging start. The five-party combine won an overwhelming 30 seats in the 38-member Northern Provincial Council (NPC) in the Sep. 21 election.

    “We need to live with our rights,” Christine, a voter from Dharmapuram in Kilinochchi district told IPS. “That was the only thing on my mind when I went to cast my vote.”

    How desperate the people are for democracy and normalcy was reflected in the 68 percent turnout among the 719,000 registered voters in the area. But will the NPC live up to Tamil expectations?

    Sri Lanka’s existing councils are widely considered to be a drain on its national resources. The government spent 17 percent or about 1.03 billion dollars of its GDP of 5.9 billion dollars on the maintenance of provincial councils in 2012, according to central bank figures.

    “Provincial councils have not achieved anything anywhere in this country,” Subramanium Sudhaharan, a voter from Dharmapuram, told IPS as he walked out of the polling booth. “To me all this voting is symbolic.”

    “It is no secret that most become provincial council members to use their position as a stepping stone to enter parliament and hence they hardly get involved in development activities,” an editorial in the journal of the Organisation of Professional Associations of Sri Lanka stated.

    The NPC could turn out to be different, as it is the only council which is held by the opposition. “For the Tamils, the election means the full implementation of the 13th Amendment,” declared Abraham Sumanthiran, a TNA parliamentarian.

    Sri Lanka’s provincial councils were a result of the 1987 Indo-Sri Lankan accord which led to the 13th Amendment to the constitution providing for devolution of power to provincial councils. While they came into existence in seven of Sri Lanka’s other provinces, the Northeastern council for the merged Eastern and the predominantly Tamil Northern Province proved to be a short-lived experiment.

    On their part, the TNA leaders have said they will seek maximum devolution of powers, among them control over land and the police. Though included in the 13th Amendment, the Centre has never really parted with these functions. And President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government has maintained it is unwilling to do so now.

    “Security and land powers must remain with the Centre given the delicate political situation in the NPC,” defeated government candidate Sinnathurai Thavarajah told IPS.

    The office of the governor is another curb on the council’s powers. Appointed by the president and the only official with executive powers, the governor can exercise his power through the council’s ministers, but can sidestep them and act through “officers subordinate to him” if he so wishes.

    Without the governor’s approval, the council will be ineffective. Kumaravadivel Guruparan, a lecturer at the department of law in the University of Jaffna, told IPS, “The new chief minister has no significant fiscal powers to initiate any resettlement or livelihood programmes of his own. He will not even have control over the provincial public service which is legally firmly under the governor.”

    The TNA’s avowed desire to go beyond the 13th Amendment is also likely to be opposed by India, which faces an election in 2014. Any compromise on the issue, Ramani Hariharan, a former intelligence head with the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) in Sri Lanka told IPS, will be perceived there as a sign of weakness. The IPKF was stationed in Sri Lanka between 1987 and 1991.

    In any case, Hariharan asks, “What is the guarantee that [a new amendment] will be more liberal than the 13th Amendment? Logically, the TNA should play down devolution beyond the 13th Amendment.”

    Sudhaharan too feels that the TNA is unlikely to get anywhere with its demand for more devolution, and should focus instead on trying to improve living conditions in the province.

    The Northern Province remains one of the poorest, despite four years of peace and massive development projects estimated by the central bank to be worth over three billion dollars.

    An evaluation of the province carried out by the office of the U.N. Refugee Agency in July this year found that over 40 percent of the 917 households surveyed in the province’s five districts had a monthly household income of 9,010 rupees (70 dollars), only about a quarter of the national average monthly income of 36,000 rupees (275 dollars).

    “Even with its limited financial resources, the NPC can do quite a lot in terms of economic and social development, governance, establishing institutions that promote equal opportunities,” Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, who heads the Point Pedro Institute of Development based in northern Jaffna, told IPS.

    The councils collectively received 1.1 billion dollars as funds from the central government in 2012, according to central bank data.

    TNA stalwarts like Rajavarotiam Sampanthan have indicated that they will try to raise funds from the global Tamil diaspora. But even if they manage to do so, it is unclear how the TNA can spend such money bypassing the central government which controls all development and reconstruction work here through a special presidential task force set up in 2009.

    All that the people of the province now want is for the council to help develop traditional income sources like agriculture, build new houses, and create new jobs. “We have suffered so long and got so little,” Janoshini Kadrigamapillai, a young woman from Kilinochchi, told IPS. “First let’s get the people to live a better life, and then we can talk of other things like devolution. We deserve to live better.”

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    I would rather have President Man Mohan Singh of India NOT ATTEND the CHOGM … if only to IMPRESS UPON THE GOSL that all the sacrifices we have made … throwing Sri Lanka’s Long Term National Security to the winds … empowering the SEPARATIST Tiger Nominated Agents of the TNA in the Northern Province … without REVOKING the 13th Amendment and DISMANTLING the Provincial Council System forced by India down UNWILLING Sri Lanka’s throat … was ALL IN VAIN!

    Perhaps at least then, the GOSL will COME TO IS SENSES and ABANDON this SERVILITY to India, REVERT to its INNATE PATRIOTISM, and do what is necessary to DEFEND and PROTECT the INTEGRITY of our Motherland PERMANENTLY!

    PM under pressure to give Lanka visit a miss

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 14 (HT) The pressure from major political parties in Tamil Nadu is likely to cast a shadow on the decision to be taken by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on participating in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Sri Lanka next month.

    Not just chief minister Jayalalithaa or DMK chief M Karunanidhi, even local Congress leaders – including some Union ministers from Tamil Nadu – have urged the PM to exercise his options carefully lest India’s participation snowballs into a major political row in the state ahead of the 2014 polls.

    With the Congress keen on cobbling a winning alliance, the issue of attacks on Indian fishermen and resettlement of Sri Lankan Tamils are seen as “sensitive” subjects that can be played up by rivals to corner the UPA government, according to local party leaders.

    Union ministers GK Vasan and V Narayanasamy, are known have to appealed to the PM to avoid participating in the CHOGM from November 15 to 17.

    They do not think that the successful completion of provincial elections in the north, which saw the victory of the Tamil National Alliance, has softened the stand of the TN parties. Therefore, they do not want the UPA government to annoy any of its potential allies.

    Last week, when external affairs minister Salman Khurshid visited Colombo, he refrained from giving any commitment on the question of the PM’s participation. Khurshid, however, said he would attend the CHOGM Foreign Ministers’ meet, held ahead of the summit.

    The preparations for CHOGM, which is a matter of prestige for Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapakse, has seen active campaign by bodies, including the Amnesty International calling for not holding the summit until an investigation is carried out into alleged human rights abuses in the 2009 civil war.

    Even as Britain is facing pressure to lead a boycott, and with Canada indicating that it will not attend unless specific criteria are met, India’s Sri Lanka experts have warned that New Delhi would have to weigh pros and cons of the PM’s non-participation.

    The dangers of pushing Sri Lanka into a corner, especially in a situation where China is establishing a big presence in the island, cannot be ignored.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Some points re the N&E :

    * Any group of citizens who are disloyal to Sri Lanka spells danger to Sri Lanka. An Oath of Allegiance by all school children a must, as also for the Armed Forces, govt. employees and private sector employees. Any of our MPs breaking their Oaths, ought to be punished. For this purpose, activate the 6-A. India is successful in stopping Separatism because they act on their Laws.

    * If India annexes the North of Lanka, then that would weaken Sri Lanka and lay the rest of Lanka open to neo-Colonisation. That is the last thing India wants as it would eventually lead to the fall of the rest of Lanka as well as separatism from Tamil Nadu to join the colonists. None of the earlier Colonised countries (Sri Lanka, India, and even America) want to be re-Colonised.

    * If the East is dreaming of Eelam, who is going to support them ? This may mean re-Colonisation of that portion of Lanka, as the East cannot survive by itself.
    Again, any splitting up of Sri Lanka in any manner, will only weaken Lanka and lay the way open to re-Colonisation, and no country in the region, including India, wants that to happen.

    * Tamil leaders Separatism ought to be checked by Laws that already exists.

  7. Ananda-USA Says:

    Government ally accuses Sri Lanka Tamil party of establishing a provincial council based on a separatist agenda

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 15, Colombo: An ally of Sri Lanka’s governing party, the National Freedom Front (NFF) says that the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has established a provincial council in the North based on a separatist agenda.

    NFF Spokesperson, Mohammad Muzammil told a news conference today that the TNA was continuing with the agenda of forming an Eelam through a new programme.

    He noted that the TNA’s victory at the Northern Provincial Council will be used to push the separatist agenda once again.

    According to Muzammil, new Northern Chief Minister C.V. Vigneswaran’s comments indicated that the Northern Province would join with the Eastern Province as the first step in forming the Eelam. He added that the TNA was using its manufactured internal battles to carry out its agenda.

  8. Ananda-USA Says:

    Political Blackmail in FULL SWING!

    Tamil Nadu Blackmails the Union Govt of India with Lok Sabha Elections in the offing,

    India Blackmails Sri Lanka to DISMEMBER ITSELF on the eve of the CHOGM,

    Poor Sri Lanka FAILS to return the Favor. Are we HELPLESS victims?

    On the Contrary … WE ARE NOT HELPLESS!

    1. To SINGE the Beard of Tamil Nadu, a NATIONWIDE REFERENDUM should IMMEDIATELY be held to REVOKE the 13th Amendment, DISSOLVE the Provincial Councils and REPLACE them with Government Agent administered Districts.

    2. To get India off Sri Lanka’s back and render it IMPOTENT, the GOSL should CANCEL ALL Commercial Agreements with India including the Sampur Power Plant Agreement and grant them to China. Furthermore, Sri Lanka should grant China the Role of Developing Trincomalee into the Most Powerful Heavy Industrial and Naval Port in the entire region. IT IS TIME to get out of India’s DEADLY EMBRACE!

    The BLACKMAIL exerted by Tamil Nadu on the Central Government of India WILL NEVER GO AWAY. It can only be RENDERED IMPOTENT by INSULATING and MAKING Sri Lanka IMPERVIOUS to ANY & ALL actions of India & its Tamil Population. Begin the Process NOW!

    THE TIME has ARRIVED for Sri Lanka to UNAMBIGUOUSLY ASSERT her Sovereignty!

    STAND UP straight and FIGHT for our DAY in the SUN now, or WITHER AWAY into the woodwork without a whimper! We MUST DECIDE NOW

    Indian PM to consider all factors before deciding to attend CHOGM in Sri Lanka

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    Oct 15, Colombo: India’s Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has said that he would decide on whether to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Colombo next month only after considering all relevant factors, including sentiments of Tamil people.

    Indian PM has said this in a letter to M. Karunanidhi the leader of the Dravida Munnethra Kaagam (DMK), a Tamil political party in Tamil Nadu.

    “I wish to inform you that a decision on the issue of my participation in the CHOGM conference will be taken only after considering all relevant factors, including the sentiments of your party and the Tamil people,” Indian media quoted Dr. Singh as saying in his letter to the DMK chief.

    PM’s statement comes after he was informed of the deteriorating health of a pro-Tamil activist K Thiagarajan, who is on an indefinite fast in Chennai since October 1 demanding that India boycott the CHOGM.

    PM in his letter asked the DMK chief to persuade the activist to call off his fast.

    The Indian Prime Minister is under immense pressure from the pro-Eelam political parties in Tamil Nadu to boycott the Commonwealth summit in Sri Lanka on the issues of alleged attacks on Indian fishermen and resettlement of Sri Lankan Tamils.

    The DMK has demanded that India must not attend the summit in Sri Lanka and assured that if the central government fails to heed their demand they will stage state-wide protests.

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