Many Tamil citizens in the north have silently endured the caste system which stifles a person’s effort to succeed
Last week newspapers showed much interest in conveying the message of Tamil youth Arulanandan Arun. From a little known individual Arun was elevated to celebrity status, thanks to the media. But something good came off this whole exercise. This individual summed up the national question beautifully and also exposed the double standards of Tamil politicians.
If Arun opened a window to view the national question from a different perspective we can now see through it the efforts taken to handover lands to legitimate owners in the north. According to Government sources as many as 22,538 acres of land has been handed over to owners in the north. These efforts were initiated through the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) by making repeated requests to the Government. But Tamil citizens in the north complain that TNA reps have not visited these lands that were released and not looked into the living conditions of the land owners.
- The Tamil struggle for a better life has been given leadership by individuals who enjoyed luxuries
- There have been media reports of Tamil women being harassed at work places like in the teaching profession
- Vijaya had the charisma and a lion heart to work towards finding a solution to the national question
Tamil politicians and luxuries
Most of these Tamil politicians were silent during the war or supported the conflict spearheaded by LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabakaran. In other words they made some contribution towards the war largely by remaining silent; a response which can be interpreted as a sign of approval. Thousands of people died and much land and property were destroyed due to confrontations between Government troops and Tiger rebels. The frontline Tiger rebels were given weapons, ammunition and cyanide capsules; the latter to be used in case there was a possibility of a cadre being captured. But what Tamil youth like Arun point out is that the leaders who gave cyanide to LTTE cadres choose to raise white flags instead with the intention of surrendering to the security forces. He points out that this move by the LTTE hierarchy makes them a laughing stock!
The Tamil struggle for a better life in the island has been given leadership by individuals who enjoyed luxuries. According to Arun a good number of them like A. Sumanthiran and C.V Vigneswaran have carried their campaigns by residing mostly in Colombo.
Vijaya went there to negotiate the release of some Army personnel who were in LTTE captivity. He failed in his first attempt, but broke the ice with regard to the prevailing non-negotiating attitude between the two communities. The Government was subsequently able to facilitate their release through some other arrangement later on
The real ground situation in Jaffna and other parts of the north are still not conducive to living. Sources revealed that some individuals have been given a water pump and Rs 20,000 each to sink a well. It’s also reported that in the wake of Tamil politicians showing a lackadaisical attitude towards raising the living conditions of the Tamils in the north, Army manpower is being used to build houses.
Despite all these issues the Tamil people are dependent on the TNA which represents them in parliament. But over the years these Tamil politicians have enjoyed Parliamentary perks and privileges and forged alliances with major political parties for their survival.
At present the Wickremesinghe regime is working towards establishing a national Government. But the TNA is split over whether they should support this move. TNA spokesman Sumanthiran has said that the alliance supported the Government with a specific object in mind, but adds that he now realises that this object would not be achieved. However TNA Leader R.Sampanthan still has reasons for supporting the moves of this Government and affirms that throwing its weight behind the present regime is the way forward for the minority Tamils. Critics opine that if Sampanthan succeeds there could be a major split in the TNA.
The UNP led Government and the TNA, which represents the Tamil Community, share a common feature. Both have failed to satisfy the people whom they represent. We also see a new Tamil political party being established by the name Lanka Democratic Front. Arun underscores during the TV interview with ‘Derana’ that the need of the hour is not new political parties, but a change in how politicians administrate the country.
Women harassed at work places
More than those in the South, the Northerners have to deal with the cast system. Women have been restricted in this community and confined to be housewives; playing a vital role behind the success of a household. There have been media reports of Tamil women being harassed at work places like in the teaching profession. But little has been done in terms of looking into their grievances.
In this context it is with great interest that this writer recalls the tour of the north initiated by late actor turned politician Vijaya Kumaratunga. The popular celebrity politician-there were Tamil youth queuing up in the north to obtain his autograph when he toured the north-took a genuine interest in ending the war. He even met Tiger rebels for discussions in India. His visit to Jaffna saw him being given a rousing welcome by the Tamil people. He went there to negotiate the release of some Army personnel who were in LTTE captivity. He failed in his first attempt, but broke the ice with regard to the prevailing non-negotiating attitude between the two communities. The Government was subsequently able to facilitate their release through some other arrangement later on.
However TNA Leader R.Sampanthan still has reasons for supporting the moves of this Government and affirms that throwing its weight behind the present regime is the way forward for the minority Tamils. Critics opine that if Sampanthan succeeds there could be a major split in the TNA
Politicians like Vijaya had the charisma and a lion heart to work towards finding a solution to the national question. The northerners saw him as a genuine individual and even the LTTE accommodated him for talks.
The Tamil people don’t see this genuineness in politicians like Wickremesinghe, Mahinda Rajapaksa, A. Sumanthiran and Vigneswaran. People like Arun have stepped outside of Jaffna and lived among the Sinhalese. It is reported that he had his education in both the north and in Colombo. He talks sense and has touched the hearts of those in the south as well. Arun says in the television interview that he is one individual who has been mostly affected by the caste system that prevails in his community. Now whether the northerners, who belong to a community divided by the caste system, are willing to listen to Arun’s views however promising they are is left to be seen.