Archive for November 26th, 2007

The recent killing of LTTE leader Tamilchelvan is a good barometer to judge whether the LTTE cause is as dear to Tamils here as when they opened up their hearts 20 years ago…

Does the average Tamil still feel worked up because his brethren in the emerald isle across the Gulf of Mannar are far from achieving their goal of a homeland? The recent killng of LTTE leader SP Tamilchelvan is a good barometer to judge whether the LTTE cause is as dear to Tamils here as when they opened up their hearts 20 years ago after fleeing Tamils landed at Rameshwar and then spread further inland.

I remember going to a refugee camp at Gummidipoondi, about an hour from Madras, as it was called back in 1990. The tales the refugees told were spine-chilling–of death and destruction and people fleeing virtually with the clothes on their backs. They yearned to get back to their homeland to get on with their lives. But, to this day, that seems illusory.

The assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on May 21, 1991, by a woman LTTE suicide bomber changed many people’s perspective. No one deserved to die like that and least of all Rajiv Gandhi who had captured many hearts with his charm and his promise to lead India into the 21st century. And, suddenly, most people were wary about wearing their sympathies for the Tamil cause on their sleeve.

As the Special Investigation Team led by D R Karthikeyan unraveled the conspiracy behind the killing of a well-loved leader, it became less and less fashionable (and safer) to get back to life and let the island Tamils fend for themselves. Says Geetha V of Tara Publications: “People will not go on the street because the Eelam cause has been discredited.” But she says that the identification with a fellow Tamil remains. “Socially and culturally there is solidarity with Tamils. There is also a general sense of dismay because Tamilchelvan died a martyr.” The average Tamil sees the killing of the LTTE leader also as a setback to peace on the island. “It might not be sharp but the Tamil cause is pertinent to people here,” she says.

But the reactions from political parties is what makes people cynical. Weeks after he set off a debate–and gave the BJP a new lease of life–after questioning the very existence of Lord Ram as the Sethusamudram controversy took centrestage, DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi ruffled Congress feathers by penning an elegy for Tamilchelvan. But the Congress which has been propped up by DMK at the center found its hands tied when it came to condemning Karunanidhi. When AIADMK supremo J Jayalalitha sought his dismissal, the Kalaignar simply said his poem was a spontaneous response to the killing of a Tamil.

Back in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi had firmed up an alliance with the AIADMK weeks before he was killed, so the Congress then went hammer and tongs at the DMK. Now, while at least the local unit of the Congress made statements criticizing the DMK and even demanded a ban on the LTTE, the AICC resolution at its recent session was wishy-washy as usual. EVKS Elangovan, former TNCC president and minister of state for textiles in the UPA government had thundered, “There are people who sing an elegy, take out rallies and put up posters for the death of a leader of a banned outfit that killed our beloved leader Rajiv Gandhi. How can this be justified?” The AICC, on the other hand, passed a resolution tamely saying, “The LTTE categorized internationally as a terrorist outfit deliberately assassinated our beloved leader in a brutal manner. The sentiments of all Congressman and women are bound to get hurt if the LTTE is eulogized in any manner.”

On the other hand, DMK ally Pattali Makkal Katchi’s S. Ramados tried to score brownie points by implying that the DMK was not doing enough for the Tamil cause.He asked Karunanidhi to press the center to bring about peace in Sri Lanka as otherwise “the entire Tamil race will be obliterated.”

But most interesting was that Jayalalithaa was red-faced when she found her ally, MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) leader Vaiko courting arrest along with 200 others including P Nedumaran. Not that Vaiko’s response should surprise anyone because he has built a political career (including his arrest by Jayalalithaa, the then CM, under Pota) on his pro-LTTE leanings.

But it was a Sri Lankan Tamil who has told Tamil Nadu’s politicians not to make the “historic blunder” of supporting the LTTE. Tamil United Liberation Front leader and former Killinochi MP V Anandasangaree has said it was “very important” that a team of leaders from TN visit the north including areas under LTTE control. “What the Tamils need today is liberation from the so-called LTTE liberators,” he said. And about Tamilchelvan’s killing. he says, “Tamilchelvan was not assassinated like Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther king.”

He may not have been, but people here still see him as a martyr to the Tamil cause and feel anguish or him. Why are they not on the streets? Because people don’t hit the streets for any issue anymore in this material world — at least not here.

A Finger On Prisoners’ Pulse
We are familiar with politicians who feign a heart attack when some court orders them to be put behind bars. But diabetes and blood pressure is a real problem among prisoners. Soon after Sabur Rehman, who was convicted in the Coimbatore bomb blasts case, died of a heart attack recently, another convict, Kichan Buhari, also convicted in the bomb blasts case, has been admitted to the ICU at Coimbatore Medical College(CMC) after complaining of severe chest pain.

The Coimbatore district administration has extended the varumun kappom (Prevention is better than cure) scheme to the inmates of the central prison and the ongoing mega camp (2300 prisoners were screened) has revealed startling medical facts about prisoners–a significant number of them have blood pressure, diabetes, skin problems and urinary infections. District collector Neeraj Mittal says those diagnosed with various ailments would be treated by 15 specialists from the CMC and Tirupur hospital. Such camps will be held every six months. Prisoners have welcomed this finger on their pulse. After all they feel that they have real reason to be depressed and stressed out dealing with what they have done and its consequences.

“Silk” Smitha To Scorch Screens Again
She was to southern cinema what Helen was to Hindi films. Even more perhaps. Every South Indian red-blooded male considered it a rite of passage to be tantalized and seduced by the voluptuous “Silk” Smitha. When she committed suicide in 1996 in Vadapalani, one of Chennai’s suburbs, South Indian cinema had lost its mother of all item girls considering she had done 200 Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and even Hindi films. It’s a different time and different place but “silk” Smitha will scorch the screens again when her last film, Thanga Thamarai (Golden Lotus) is released shortly in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

But her sensuality might be leashed because this movie will have her playing the lead role of a village girl. Chennai-based producer and director Thirupathi Rajan–whose financial struggle led to the film being delayed–knows that he’ll be back in the financial doldrums if he does not give the audience what they want from “Silk”. So there are four songs which will be vintage “Silk”. The actress, who was launched by Rajan way back in 1979, did him a good turn and shot for the film although he was down on his luck.A Telugu girl, the actress’ first movie was “Vandichakram” which gave birth to her “silk” persona.

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The British government is put to test by the LTTE operatives by holding the Hero’s Day celebration at the Excel Centre, thus violating one of the provisions of the Terrorism Act, which specifically criminalize ‘Glorifying Terrorist cause’ as a criminal act.

The leaflets, publicity in the LTTE media and campaign by the LTTE cadres now confirm that LTTE will be celebrating its Hero’s Day in London without fear of the law. Last ditch effort has been made in desperation to pull more crowds to the venue.

Vague leaflets circulated previously without the venue details have now been superseded with new leaflets giving the particulars. The leaflet still mislead the public by stating the organisers of the event as previously unknown ‘Tamil National Memorial Organisation’ when facts are available that LTTE front British Tamil Forum (BTA) based in Harrow had book the venue and are making the organisational arrangements.

The LTTE front tamileditors.com did not shy away from giving some information about event. In their two news items they were very outspoken to claim it is a proscribed LTTE function.

One news said: ‘Tamil Diaspora community in the UK is preparing to remember thousands of their fellow men and women who died in the ethnic conflict in the island of Sri Lanka. Remembrance ceremonies are expected to be held world-wide on Tuesday, 27 November. Tamils are thought to number over 100, 000 in the former colonial ruler. This year the organisers, a consortium of Tamil community groups, have hired London’s largest indoor-venue, the Excel Centre for the main event. Excel Centre has a capacity of 25, 000 people at anyone time. Organisers expect that around 75, 000 people will garland the photos of fallen heroes, throughout the day. The logistics involved in getting so many people in and out of the venue is ground breaking. Speaking to TamilEditors.com a volunteer involved in the logistical operations said: “Our main difficulty is that we can not let everyone stay inside the venue, because of the venue’s capacity. At the same time we have to be sensitive not to force people out of the venue straight after the photos have been garlanded. We have to remember that many of the people in attendance would have lost at least a loved one in the war. It is a major logistical challenge, but we have the necessary highly capable volunteers to successfully embrace the event.” In 2006, an estimated 50, 000 people attended the funeral of the Tamil’s Chief Negotiator Anton Balasingham, held at London’s Alexandra Palace’.

The second news titled ‘Tamil to honour 20,000 fallen heroes’ claimed to be filed from LTTE head quarters in Killinochchi in Sri Lanka went on to say:

Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil community has begun commemorating nearly 20,000 of their men and women who were killed fighting for an independent homeland. Five days of traditional remembrance events began on Friday and are set to conclude on Tuesday evening when the Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) lights the “flame of sacrifice”. Documents released by the LTTE show that 19,887 fighters have been killed since 27 November1982. The total includes 15, 691 males and 4, 196 females. Amongst the dead were 343 members of the elite Black Tigers unit that launches devastating attacks deep within enemy territory. The LTTE said 950 of their cadres have been killed this year as fighting with troops escalated while a Norwegian-brokered truce unraveled. The truce went into effect beginning in February 2002 — and still is in place, at least on paper — but the fighting began to worsen in December 2005, soon after the election victory President Mahinda Rajapaksa who is viewed as by the Sinhala community as a reincarnation of ancient king Dutugemunu who defeated the Tamils at war. There was no immediate reaction from the military to the Tiger losses’.

The news that 75,000 people are going to garland the LTTE dead men must be worrying story for the Excel management. Leaving aside they allowing a known proscribed terrorist function to take place in their venue questions will be asked what arrangements have been made to deal with the enormous security, traffic and health and safety concerns arising as a result of such large volume of people attending.

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A communication hub of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was subject to a Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) aerial raid 0nNovember 25, 2007 morning. The target which was located in Dharmapuram (North East of Kilinochchi) was bombed at 7.20am using 10th fighter squadron’s ground attack aircraft. The target is reported to have been completely destroyed in the attack. LTTE casualty details are not available as of this moment.

According to Military Intelligence, the location bombed was used as a communication hub and a gathering place for senior LTTE cadres. It is also reported that the base was equipped with advanced satellite communications equipment. LTTE is known to use satellite communications to connect to its arms network which is spread across the world and to contact its cadres deployed in a number of foreign countries. They effectively used satellite phones in the Anuradhapura Airbase raid to provide real time updates to their command center located somewhere in Wanni.

The latest attack comes only days after LTTE’s strategic communications wing leader ‘Alex ‘was killed in an airstrike. Alex, along with LTTE’s political leader and Pooneryn military commander S.P. Thamil Selvam and 3 others, was killed in a SLAF bombing raid earlier this month.

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