Tamil Eelam Out Of India?
Sri Lanka may have solved its Tamil problem by defeating the LTTE. But, if recent trends are any indication, Tamil separatists have shifted their focus to India. With the present UPA government at the centre focussing its wrath only on the so-called saffron terror, though it is yet to be proven, separatist terrorists have been emboldened in Tamil Nadu. BR Haran reports.
The seeds of Tamil separatism were sown by the European Christian missionaries, the moment they landed on Madras, Tranquebar, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore and Pondicherry four centuries ago. Later it extended to Sri Lanka also. The missionaries deliberately identified the Tamils as a separate “Dravidian Race”, which concept was fully utilised by the ‘Justice Party’ in the early twentieth century, although a Christian convert by name John Rathinam founded the ‘Dravida Kazhagam’ in the late nineteenth century (1892) itself. John Rathinam could not succeed and so was Justice Party, which made the ‘Kannadiga’ EV Ramasamy Naicker to form “Dravidar Kazhagam”in 1944. “Dravidian Land for Dravidians” was the slogan coined by EV Ramasamy, who even sought the support of Mohammed Ali Jinnah for the cause of “Dravidastan”. But, Jinnah ignored his request.
‘Quaid-e-Millat’ Mohammed Ismail, who was a member of ‘Muslim League’ then, led the party in the south with the blessings of Jinnah. He even prodded Jinnah to help create “Moplahstan”. With the creation of Pakistan, Muslim League became defunct in India. But, when Indian Muslims went to Pakistan and attended the Muslim League Conference on December 14-15, 1947, Jinnah advised them to form “Indian Union Muslim League” by telling them that the Indian Muslims must always keep fighting politically, socially and economically, for their safety and security. At the end of the conference, Quaid-e-Millat was officially made the leader of Indian Muslims and Liyakat Ali Khan was made the leader for the Pakistan side. A Pakistani ML leader by name Sardar Abdul Rab Mishtar stated that, a strong Pakistan is necessary for the protection of Indian Muslims, and Jinnah assured the Indian Muslims that Pakistan would be always ready to help them. After returning from Pakistan, Quaid-E-Millat focused on developing the “Indian Union Muslim League” and shifted his domicile to Kerala.
Forgetting ‘Dravidastan’, the Kannadiga Ramasamy changed his stance to “Tamil Nadu for Tamils” and even after the split in DK with the formation of “DMK” by Annadurai in 1949, both the DK and DMK maintained their stand for separate Tamil Nadu. Lack of support from the people forced them to drop their separatist agenda in 1962, with the advent of Chinese aggression. In the immediate aftermath, In 1963, on the recommendation of the National Integration Council, the Indian Parliament unanimously passed the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in order to “prevent the regional, linguistic and other kinds of secession and to preserve the unity, sovereignty, and territorial integrity” of India.
But then, the constitutional amendment could not help in complete eradication of separatism. In fact, the Church became very active in the northeast and the Pakistani hand played its devious games in Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Naxalite Movement came into being in 1967 in West Bengal and supported by alien forces from behind, the Naxal-Maoist menace slowly spread to Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. As of now, it has spread across over 220 districts in 20 states. Apart from the usual smuggling of drugs and indulging in extortion, storming of security camps, attacking police stations and hijacking trains by the Maoists have also become common nowadays.
Tamil Nadu has always been vulnerable to chauvinism and to some extent separatism too. Even the Maoist-Naxal menace is not new to Tamil Nadu, and in fact, it has a history spanning more than three decades. The districts of Salem, Dharmapuri, Theni, Dindigul and Madurai were notorious for Maoist activities. Although naxalism grew alarmingly in the seventies in the areas of Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri, it was brought under control due to firm action taken by the state police then. Since then it has been cropping up in hill terrains then and there, particularly in the Karnataka and Kerala border areas. Even now areas like Pazhani and Kodaikanal are under surveillance due to Maoist activities.
At one point of time, when the sandal brigand Veerappan was running amuck in the Karnataka-TN hilly terrains, poaching wild animals, felling huge sandal woods, kidnapping and killing people, a dangerous nexus developed between him and Tamil separatists, who were later joined by the Naxals and all of them took training from LTTE cadres. ‘Tamil Nadu Liberation Army’ (TNLA), the most notorious outfit, came into being in the early eighties and it was affiliated to ‘Communist Party of India––Marxist-Leninist’ (CPI-ML). As the parent organisation was not willing to support the idea of formation of separate Tamil Nadu, the CPI-ML split at the state level, leading to the formation of ‘Tamil Nadu Communist Party—Marxist-Leninist’ (TNCP-ML) in 1984-85.
From 1986 to 2005, the TNLA indulged in 7 bomb blasts (bombing railway tracks, television towers, etc) and three attacks on police stations. They also indulged in extortion and kidnapping. Meanwhile in the late eighties another outfit by name “Tamil Nadu Retieval Troops” (TNRT) was also formed by Tamil extremists with the objective of forming a Greater Tamil Nadu comprising Tamil Nadu and Tamil Eelam. Both had several front organisations in the form of ’Liberation Party’, ‘Farmers’ Union’, ‘Women’s Movement’, ‘Rights Activists Forum’ and ‘Youth Forum’ etc.
Both TNLA and TNRT had close links with Veerappan, as his area served as a safe haven for them. Both the outfits helped him in the kidnapping of Kannada Matinee idol Dr Rajkumar. In December 2000, the Tamil Nadu government wrote to the center asking it to proscribe TNLA and TNRT and the central government banned both the outfits in July 2002. Despite the ban, the cadres of TNLA operated under a different name “Thamizhar Viduthalai Iyakkam” meaning “Tamilians Liberation Movement”.
When the Sinhala oppression exceeded all limits in Sri Lanka, the Tamils genuinely revolted against the Sri Lankan government. But unfortunately, the Tamils split into various groups and certain groups took to arms. The feeling of one-upmanship between them led to frequent fights and killings and ultimately the “Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam” (LTTE) reigned supreme. When the Eelam issue started gaining momentum in the early eighties with the “heroics” of Prabhakaran, the Tamil separatists here openly ventured and started the above mentioned outfits TNLA and TNRT in the guise of serving the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils.
Both TNLA and TNRT had very close links with the LTTE and helped it to infiltrate into India and to smuggle arms, ammunition, fuel and other necessary things. As TNLA was functioning as an ‘Arms Wing’ of TNCP-ML, it took help from LTTE in weapon training and field craft. As the LTTE trained Maoist and Tamil separatists, the dangerously unholy “LTTE-Maoists-Tamil Separatists-Veerappan” nexus turned out to be a violent chapter in Tamil Nadu’s history of law and order.
Although there was a lull after the killing of Veerappan by the Tamil Nadu Police in October 2004, Tamil separatism again raised its ugly head when the Eelam War IV was in full peak. In April 2009, hooligans belonging to Tamil separatist/pro-LTTE outfits like Tamil Desiya Viduthalai Katchi (Tamil Nationalist Liberation Party) and Tamil Desiya Podhuvudamai Katchi (Tamil Nationalist Communist Party) conducted protest demonstrations against the Indian government’s so-called indifferent attitude to the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, and attempted to burn the Indian National Flag.
In another incident, hundreds of activists belonging to similar Tamil separatist organisations such as Tamil Desiya Iyakkam (Tamil National Movement) and Tamizhar Ilaignar Iyakkam (Tamilian Youth Movement) apart from MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), PDK (Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam) and PUCL (Peoples Union of Civil Liberties) attacked an army convoy in Coimbatore in May 2009. This attack was also in support of the LTTE and against the Indian government.
Though hundreds of hooligans were involved in both the incidents, only a handful was arrested. The police registered cases against those goondas under sections 147 (unlawful assembly), 188 (disobedience to an order promulgated by a government servant) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 (amended 2003) and only three were slapped with the National Security Act. Later all of them were released on bail after mild punishments.
Initial investigations and interrogation of the apprehended hooligans confirmed a huge conspiracy behind the daring act of attacking Army convoy. The Police registered cases against 250 persons including Ramakrishnan, general secretary of PDK, Ponchandran of PUCL, and Sivapriyan of Tamil Nationalist Movement. Many hooligans have allegedly escaped to Chennai and Madurai and crossed over to Kerala.
The police were able to identify the culprits and gather evidence against them from complete video recordings collected from media personnel. The police strongly suspected that many culprits could have crossed over to Kerala as pro-LTTE elements have a safe refuge there in the coastal areas. PDK leader Ramakrishnan reportedly had close connections with LTTE boss Prabhakaran, and according to police records, even visited North Lanka to meet him in the 1980s; he reportedly conducted photo-exhibitions on the war-front and sufferings of Lankan Tamils.
Besides the pro-LTTE and Tamil-chauvinist elements, the involvement of PUCL members gave a different dimension to the issue. The Chennai edition of The Times of India (May 4, 2009) reported that PUCL members were involved in the attack. In the past two decades, PUCL has been known to have become a front for Naxalites, Maoists and Jihadis, and its sustained campaign against the Army in Kashmir and in support of secessionists and terrorits in the name of human rights, is characteristic of its anti-establishment functioning. It has acted against the governments in Gujarat and Odisha (Kandhamal) in the aftermath of communal riots.
It must be noted that Binayak Sen, PUCL vice president, was incarcerated in Chhattisgarh for allegedly helping Maoists. It was also reported in the media that PUCL office bearers like Kavitha Srivastava attended the ‘National Political Conference’ in February 2009 in Calicut, organised by the ‘Popular Front of India,’ an amalgamation of Islamic terror outfits.
Most PUCL office-bearers (majority of them advocates) are involved in activities helping terrorist and separatist forces in the name of ‘human rights; KG Kannabiran, president PUCL, is one of those “celebrities”, who have advocated ‘clemency’ for terrorists like Afzal Guru. The organisation gave a tough time to the government and men in uniform in support of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins and sandalwood brigand Veerappan’s aides.
The attack on Army convoy was first of its kind in Tamil Nadu. That was a typical Maoist style of attack and hence confirms the fact that the infiltration of Maoists and their proximity with Tamil separatists and LTTE. The ‘Communist Party of India (Maoist)’ was actually formed in September 2004 with the merger of two banned Naxalite parties, namely the ‘Communist Party of India (Marxist- Leninist)’ and ‘Maoist Communist Centre of India’. As this new formation was given to violent anti-national and anti-social activities, the Tamil Nadu government banned it in July 2005. With the advent of the DMK government in 2006, there was an alarming increase in LTTE and Maoist activities. A dozen Maoists, clandestinely engaged in recruitment of cadres, were captured along with some of their more notorious leaders who had managed to escape police dragnet for years. Among the captured, one was an engineering student (Muthuselvam) and the other a law student (Velmurugan).
When questioned by the police, all those apprehended confessed that they had been recruited by the PWG (People’s War Group) to create a ‘liberated zone’ in the Western Ghats and that they had links with Maoists in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Nepal. Maps of Chennai and Madurai, along with blueprints of vital civilian installations, were seized from them. As the Tamil Nadu police tightened its grip, LTTE sought safe refuge in north Andhra Pradesh. Both LTTE and Maoists have been covertly using many industrial units without the knowledge of the proprietors to make key components for rockets, grenades and mortars and many such consignments have been seized by police in both states.
It may be noted that the PDK (Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam) was clandestinely distributing CD materials in support of LTTE throughout the state when the Eelam War IV was going on. PDK president Kolathur Mani was imprisoned under NSA for seditious speech. Mani was known to have organised training camps for LTTE cadres in his village Kolathur near Mettur, in the early eighties, when Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. He was also an accused in the case relating to the escape of over 40 LTTE cadres from inside Vellore Fort in 1995 and later he was acquitted. The Jain Commission Report on Rajiv’s assassination described Kolathur Mani’s conduct as “extremely dubious”. He was believed to have had connections with Rajiv murderers.
Tamil Nadu Liberation Front, Free Tamil Movement, Tamil National Liberation Front and Dravida Peravai are some of the other outfits, which are still active, though in a small scale. Another outfit by name ‘Tamil National Liberation Movement’ participated in the seminar titled “Azadi—The Only Way”, conducted by a Maoist Front organisation by name “Committee for the release of political Prisoners” in New Delhi on October 21, in which, Syed Ali Shah Geelani of the Hurriyat Conference, PWG supporter poet Varavara Rao, Dr N Venuh, secretary general of the Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR), Har Charanjit Singh, president of Dal Khalsa, Malem Ningthouja from the Committee for Peace and Democracy, Manipur (CPDM), GN Saibaba, deputy secretary, Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), Sujato Bhadra, Gursharan Singh, writer Arundhati Roy and Parliament attack fame Professor SAR Geelani also participated.
Thiagu, general secretary of Tamil National Liberation Movement had excused himself from personal attendance due to unavoidable domestic exigencies, but sent his note of solidarity titled “My Name is Kashmir”. His note said, “It is the birthright of the Kashmir nation to determine whether it is to remain part of India, or to join Pakistan, or to retrieve its old status. For as a nation it is entitled to the right to self-determination. Those who think it is well and good that Kashmir should be with India are of course free to go to the people of Kashmir and mobilise support. What sort of democracy is this to occupy and keep Kashmir by force of military strength and repressive laws?…”
Thiagu’s note must be viewed in the backdrop of another seminar (sic) organised to observe the death anniversary of LTTE commander Dileepan on September 26 in Thirunelveli. The meet was organized by an LTTE Front called “May 17 Movement”. The special invitee for the meet was none other than Parliament attack fame SAR Geelani, who spoke in length about the “sufferings” of Kashmiris under the clutches of Armed Forces, which have caused “death and destruction” in the valley and the only solution being “Freedom” for Kashmir from India.
Though the organisers were disappointed by his not making any mention about the struggle for Tamil Eelam, they seemed to have deliberated him in detail about the LTTE and Eelam struggle and requested his support for their movement. Poet Kasi Anandan, a pro-LTTE man and Lena Kumar, Thirunelvel District Convener of May 17 Movement, have requested Geelani to organise a meet in Kashmir in support of Tamil Eelam, as the sufferings of the people in both the places are similar. The organisers have plans of bringing Vara Vara Rao from Telangana, Jagmohan Singh from Punjab and Syed Ali Shah Geelani too to Tamil Nadu to talk in support of LTTE and Tamil Eelam. They have plans of forming a national alliance, and the participation of Thiagu in Delhi and Geelani in Thirunelveli clearly confirms the fact.
Meanwhile, president of Viduthalai Chiruthai Katchi (VCK) Thirumavalavan, a well-known supporter of LTTE and who was also a part of the all party delegation, which went to Kashmir, has been openly talking in support of Kashmiri separatists since his return. A majority of vernacular newspapers and magazines, which are flooded with Dravidian racists, Marxists and fundamentalist minorities as columnists, writers and correspondents, have been regularly publishing essays and reports in support of separatist movements.
Even while LTTE was active before and during the Eelam war IV, they used to train the Naxalites and Maoists in handling arms and ammunition. It has been widely reported that even a section of Islamic terrorists have also got LTTE connections then. The connection of LTTE to Islamic Terrorism goes far back to late seventies and early eighties (1976-1984) during which period they were getting training from “Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine” at the Bekka Valley in South Lebanon, where the concepts of “taxation”, martyrdom (suicide), political assassinations/killings, war memorials, and “internationalising” the cause of the LTTE were borrowed. The PLO office in Delhi was also in regular touch with the late LTTE leader Prabhakaran. The PLO representative had been clandestinely interacting with Prabhakaran, the late Kittu and other LTTE leaders (likely also extending financial assistance to them).
The LTTE was training terrorists in Afghanistan in the nineties. Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) both of which are closely linked to al-Qaeda have also got training from LTTE. The LTTE’s Islamic connection had continued for more, as evidenced by the frequent visits of LTTE’s chief procurement officer Kumaran Pathmanathan alias KP to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Dubai.
The LTTE was also believed to have trained the Coimbatore-based “Al Umma” activists, who were the perpetrators of 1993 RSS office blasts in Chennai and 1998 Coimbatore serial blasts. Indulgence in trafficking narcotics, smuggling drugs and extortion rackets has caused the connection between LTTE and Islamic Terror Groups. Though the LTTE has been comprehensively defeated within Sri Lanka, the Island Nation is wary of the fact that the LTTE is still active in US, Canada and European Countries through many of its front organisations. Sri Lanka points to the formation of a “Transnational Government” by the LTTE and has requested all those countries, which have considerable Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora, to clamp down those LTTE front organisations.
As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, Tamil Separatism is like burning embers, kept alive by dubious organisations like Tamil National Liberation Movement, May 17 movement and many others mentioned above. These organisations are well connected with the other LTTE Front organisations in US, Canada and European Countries. Foreign-funded NGOs and Christian missionary organisations help them in many ways financially and politically, like how they caused the separatist movement in North-East. After all the Christian control on LTTE is an open secret!
The rise of Popular Front of India, an amalgamation of South India-based Islamic fundamentalist organisations such as MNP (Manitha Neethi Pasarai), KFD (Karnataka For Dignity), NDF (Naional Development Front), Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), etc, causes huge concern. The name “Popular Front of India” is similar to that of “Popular Front for the Liberation for Palestine”. This organisation has been growing not only in south but also in northern cities like Lucknow and Goa in the west. Its immediate focus is on Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Kashmiri separatists, Tamil separatists, Maoists and separatists from the North-East have all come together. LTTE connection is quite visible. Jihadi connection is quite observable. ‘Champions’ of human rights and civil liberties and Christian and Islamic terror front organisations are all behind this unholy and dangerous union. The nation is in peril, but the Congress-led UPA government is concocting “Hindu Terror” and “Saffron Terror”. A huge disaster is in the offing!