Tamil Nadu: Glorious Past and Pathetic Present (History and Current Events)
TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 2009 (ID. 2009-04-01)
2. What Happens when Foreign Leaders Insult Tamilnadu Leaders?
3. What Happens when a Foreign Navy Kills Tamilnadu Fishermen?
We present in this article two sets of incidents from the past and the present. These incidents prove Chief Minister's yearning statement as to how low Tamilnadu has sunk from the past glory to the present pathetic situation. Let this be an eye opener for the people of Tamilnadu that when the chips are down they are helpless within India. They have no military or diplomatic power to protect Tamils inside Tamil Nadu or outside, although people of Tamilnadu pay taxes to the Indian treasury, in fact, much more than their population proportional share.
2. What Happens when Foreign Leaders Insult Tamilnadu Leaders?
2.1 Two Thousand Years Ago
It was the age of the Third Tamil Academy (Third Tamil Sangam); also known as the First Golden Age of Tamil Nadu. There were some northern expeditions that Tamil kings undertook in which Tamil armies fought with northern armies and won. Imayavarampan Nedum Cheral Athan, Ariya Padai Kadantha Nedunjchezhian are two such Tamil kings. Nedum Cheral Athan took the title Imayavarampan, meaning that his army marched to the edges of Himalyas (northern demarcation of South Asia). Similarly Nedunjchezhian took the title Ariya Padai Kadantha, meaning that his army defeated and broke thorough Aryan Armies (armies of the northern Aryan kings) and completed its northern expedition.
The incident we discuss in this section took place in the days of King Cheran Chengkuttuvan of the Chera dynasty [Other two Tamil dynasties were the Chola dynasty and the Pandiya dynasty.] His contemporaries in the north were Kings Kanakan and Vijayan. They boasted in court in the presence of ministers, military chiefs and foreign diplomats, "Had the Tamil kings dared to come north in our time, we would have taught them a lesson". This insult to Tamil kings reached King Cheran Chengkuttuvan's ears. He ordered his army commanders to go to these kingdoms and bring back the boastful Kings Kanakan and Vijayan as prisoners. His army went north several hundred miles from Tamil Nadu and defeated the combined armies of Kankan and Vijayan, captured the two kings and brought them to Tamil Nadu.
This was about 2000 years ago. Anyone who dared to insult Tamil kings were "taught a lesson" because Tamil kings had armies to protect the people and their honor. What about today?
2.2 Today (Later Part of Year 2008)
2.2.1 Sri Lankan army chief insults Tamil Nadu leaders
The three decades old war between Tamil minority fighters and the Sri Lankan government was fierce during the last few months of 2008. Large numbers of Tamil civilians were killed in Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) bombings and Sri Lankan Army shelling. The 60 million Tamil population of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was agitated and angry at the news of the killings of their brethren in Sri Lanka. Since the State of Tamil Nadu has no diplomatic or military power to act on its own, Tamil leaders of all political hues including the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu pleaded with the Indian government to put pressure on Sri Lanka to agree to a ceasefire.
Angry at the protests in Tamil Nadu and the call for ceasefire by Tamil Nadu leaders, Sri Lankan army chief Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka said in early December 2008, "Indian Government would not listen to the political jokers of Tamil Nadu whose survival depends on the LTTE ... If the LTTE is wiped out, those political jokers like P. Nedumaran, Vaiko and whoever is sympathizing with the LTTE will most probably lose their income from the LTTE." Though Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka named only Nedumaran and Vaiko, their demand for a ceasefire was no different from that of most Tamil leaders including Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi.
[Nedumaran is the President of Tamil Nationalist Movement, a non-political organization, and Vaiko is the General-Secretary of Marumalachi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) whose members have been elected to both Tamil Nadu State Legislative Assembly and Indian Parliament; this party was part of the ruling coalition at the Indian Central Government a few years ago. LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is the Tamil militant group fighting for the Tamil minority of Sri Lanka.]
2.2.2 India turns a deaf ear to the insult
Since Tamil Nadu is just a state in India, it was up to the external affairs ministry (foreign ministry) of the Indian government to protest this insult and get an apology from Sarath Fonseka. Indian High Commissioner (ambassador) to Sri Lanka Alok Prasad called Sri Lankan Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and protested the Sri Lanka Army Chief's remarks. According to the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka, “The Defense Secretary promised to look into the matter and conveyed regrets should any such comment have been made.” That was the end of the matter. No follow up, no demand for apology for insulting the Tamil leaders.
What was there to look into? First of all, Fonseka made the insult in an interview to Sri Lankan government-run weekly magazine "Sunday Observer". Second of all, even after the furor in Tamil Nadu and after the Indian High Commissioner's call to the Defense Secretary, Fonseka did not deny making the insulting comments. More than three months have passed. Has the Sri Lankan government "looked into" Fonseka's statement? Indian government did not follow up and even demand an apology. Indian government was not at all interested in an apology from the man who made the insults. It made a cursory protest to appease Tamilnadu and that was the end of it. India continues to supply intelligence, advisors, technical assistance and materials to the Sri Lankan army whose commander insulted leaders of Tamil Nadu.
Do you think that Pakistan or China would supply arms to Sri Lanka if the head of Sri Lankan Army insults their leaders and won't even apologize? Absolutely not. Do you think that America would supply arms to Israel if the head of Israeli Army insults an American Senator and won't even apologize? Absolutely not. Sri Lankan leaders know that it is all right to insult Tamil Nadu leaders and there would be no repercussions from the Indian government. In fact Sarath Fonseka was so certain that he openly stated that Indian government would not listen to Tamilnadu leaders. That is the issue. Our neighbors know that leaders of Tamilnadu, even the chief minister of Tamil Nadu, have no influence with the Indian government on foreign and military policies. Tamils can be insulted, abused, harmed and killed with no retribution from the Indian government.
2.2.3 No apology from Sri Lankan army chief and yet India continues to help Sri Lankan army
The insults to our leaders stand. What can we do? We have no country. We have no diplomats. We have no representation in other countries or international organizations. Our leaders have become the laughing stock of our neighbors. Compare this pathetic situation to what happened to Kings Kanakan and Vijayan two thousand years when we had our own diplomats and army?
No, we are not saying India should send its military and bring back Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka in chains. No. Insults do not demand military action. That was the way 2000 years ago. Today insults are handled differently. Diplomatic and economic pressures are applied if our leaders are insulted by the head of the army of another country. Diplomats are temporarily withdrawn for a period of time to show disapproval. Financial and military aid to the offending country is stopped. That is how things are handled today. India did not do any of those things. India acts as if nothing has happened. In fact, India continues to provide military assistance to the Sri Lankan army in the form of intelligence, advisors, technical assistance and materials to the Sri Lankan army whose chief insulted Tamil Nadu leaders and would not even apologize or withdraw those remarks. Actually I am far more angry with the Indian government than with the Sri Lankan government on this issue.
Head of the Sri Lankan army, Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, not only called Nedumaran and Vaiko "political jokers", he also said in the same interview to the Sri Lankan weekly magazine Sunday Observer, "those political jokers like P. Nedumaran, Vaiko and whoever is sympathizing with the LTTE will most probably lose their income from the LTTE." He was accusing Nedumaran and Vaiko of getting money from LTTE. LTTE is a banned organization in India and so receiving monies from it is a crime. This is a serious charge. Did India ask the Lieutenant General for evidence of his charge? No. Suppose Bangladesh says that Congress President Sonia Gandhi received money from Sri Lanka in exchange for Indian government support to it, would Indian ambassador be still be in Bangladesh? Would India be sending military advisors and military intelligence to Bangladesh? But in the eyes of Hindi dominated Indian government, Tamils are third class citizens and anyone can insult Tamil leaders with no negative reaction from New Delhi.
2.2.4 Why make a big fuss about an insult?
Readers may wonder, rightly so, why make a big "fuss" about an insult? True. Insults, even hurled by the head of a foreign army, are mere words and do not harm a single hair on a Tamil. The way how the Indian government reacted and how it continues with its military assistance is the troubling reality. It tells the world that you can insult Tamil leaders and we don't care. Foreign governments know that Tamils are second-class citizens in India and the Indian government does not care about them. Insults lead to injury. Foreign governments conclude that they can injure Tamils, kill Tamils and Indian government would look the other way. That was our prime concern. We may ignore the insults but we cannot ignore the injuries. In fact the next section discusses how Tamil of Tamil Nadu are harmed and India turns a blind eye.
3. What Happens when a Foreign Navy Kills Tamilnadu Fishermen?
[Much of Section 3 is based on or excerpted from author's article "Nine Hundred Year Historical Perspective of how Tamil Nadu Lost its Sovereignty and How Selfish Politicians are Selling out Tamil National Rights Today - Part I" that was published in December 2001. Those who read that article recently may skip or quickly browse through Section 3.]
3.1 About a Thousand Years Ago
Tamil Nadu was divided into three principal kingdoms, namely, Chera Nadu, Chola Nadu and Pandya Nadu, and ruled by Chera, Chola and Pandya kings. During the reign of Rajathi Raja Cholan II over Chola Nadu (1163 - 1179), there was a quarrel within the Pandiyan royal family for the throne of Pandiya Nadu. Both Parakkirama Pandyan and Kulasekhara Pandyan claimed the throne, and a civil war ensued in Pandiya Nadu.
Parakkirama Pandiyan sought help from the Sinhala king Parakramabahu who was ruling the nearby island of Lanka. Parakramabahu sent an army under the command of a Sinhala General, Lankapura. The Sinhala army captured the coastal town of Rameshwaram and damaged the famed Hindu temple for Lord Sivan (Lord Siva).
The Sinhala army marched from the coast into the interior of Pandya Nadu. It looted and burned many Tamil villages on the way. In the ensuing battles between the Sinhala army and Kulasekhara Pandyan's army, the latter met with defeat after defeat initially but tables turned later. King Parakramabahu sent reinforcements under the command of another Sinhala General, Jagat Vijaya (Jagat Vijayan). The combined forces of Lankapura and Jagat Vijaya defeated Kulasekhara Pandiyan. The latter sought help from the fellow Tamil king Rajathi Raja Cholan II. Rajathi Rajan sent an army under General Pallavarayan (Pallavarayar) to Pandiya Nadu.
Furious at reports of the devastation of Pandya Nadu under the Sinhala army (looting and burning of villages, killing of villagers, desecration of the Rameswaram temple), Rajarthiraja Cholan ordered General Pallavarayan to capture and execute the Sinhala General Lankapura. Pallavarayan pursued Lankapura, captured him and beheaded him. The severed head was hoisted on a spear at the gates of Madurai, the Pandiyan capital. Thus ended the occupation of Pandya Nadu (about one-third of Tamil Nadu) by the Sinhalese army. [NOTE: The beheading and the public display of the severed head may look uncivilized and barbaric today but it was not an uncommon practice in those days. Today war criminals are executed in private (example: many German and Japanese officers were executed after the Second Word War in the 1940s).]
3.2 Today (Late Twentieth Century and Early Twenty-First Century)
3.2.1Tamil Nadu fishermen shot and killed in the sea
In the 1990s and 2000s, well over 250 Tamil Nadu fishermen were shot and killed by the Sri Lankan Navy and many more wounded. Sri Lanka's excuse was that Tamil Nadu fishermen had entered its territorial waters. The fishermen claim that the shootings took place on the Tamil Nadu (Indian) side of the waters. Even if the fishermen did wander into Sri Lankan waters by mistake or purposively, Sri Lanka has no right to shoot at them under any international law, norm or protocol. (It is an easy mistake to cross into Sri Lankan waters because there is no visible borderline to demarcate the two sides. They might have even crossed into Sri Lankan waters purposively because the fish catch was better. Either way, Sri Lankan Navy has no right to shoot them under any law.)
Sri Lanka's aggressiveness has even reached Tamil Nadu soil. In October 1999, Sri Lankan war ships came all the way up to Tamil Nadu coast near Rameshwaram and shot at fishing families' houses (the same coastal area where the Sinhala army landed in the twelfth century and desecrated the famed Rameshwaram Hindu temple). Sri Lanka claimed that it pursued a boat carrying Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres fighting the Sri Lankan military. Sri Lankan Navy has no right to come all the way to Tamil Nadu coast and shoot at houses. It is against international laws. In spite of repeated calls and letters from Tamil Nadu chief ministers Katunanidhi and Jayalalithaa for well over a decade, India had taken no effective action. Shootings and killings are going on to this day.
Unlike a thousand years ago, Tamil Nadu is ruled from New Delhi and Tamilnadu does not have a navy to protect its fishermen. Though powerful Indian war ships stand just a few miles from where Tamil Nadu fishermen are being shot and killed, they keep a blind eye and do nothing to protect them. For the Hindi politicians who dominate and control the Indian Government, Tamil blood is cheap.
3.2.2Oh, How we wish Tamilnadu has its own navy
It is at times like these we wish that Tamil Nadu is an independent country with its own military. In the twelfth century we beat the Sinhala army and navy back to Sri Lanka and executed the Sinhalese General who committed war crimes in Tamil Nadu, because then the Chola king of Tamil Nadu had an army and navy to protect Tamil people. But, alas, today Tamil Nadu is not a sovereign country and thus has no army, has no navy, has no air force to protect its people. We beg the Indian Government who rules us and whose military is paid for in part by Tamil taxpayers. Blood of Tamil fishermen spilled in the southern seas by Sri Lankan bullets mean little to the Hindi politicians who dominate the Indian Government; they are expendable Tamil blood. Had it been Hindi blood, the Indian Air Force and Navy would have rushed to destroy the Sri Lankan Naval ships that shoot at the fishermen. (See Usha Ramanathan's articles on the subject for more details on Indian Governments step-motherly treatment of our fishermen and the reasons behind it. These articles are listed at the end of this article.)
3.2.3King Rajathi Raja Cholan and Chief Minister Karunanidhi
I see in my mind the vision of the mighty Tamil Army of Rajathi Rajan under the command of General Pallavarayan battling the powerful Sinhala Army to protect the Tamil people from Sinhala soldiers. Sword to sword they clash at battles of Thirukkanapaer, Thondi, Pasipon Amaravathi, Manamerkudi and Manjakudi. Finally the Sinhala army was defeated and in the run. General Lankapura captured and brought before Pallavarayan in chains. At the orders of King Rajathi Raja Cholan, sentenced to death for war crimes against Tamil people and executed. The vision in my mind's eye fades and I come to the reality of today. Tamil Nadu fishermen are shot and killed by the Sri Lankan Navy. Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister pleads and pleads to the Prime Minister of India to protect the fishermen. The Prime Ministers refuses to act. Killing of the fishermen continues. Wailing of the widows and children left behind by the fishermen continue. All that the Tamil Nadu State Chief Minister could offer are a few drops of tear and sympathy!
Oh, how we wish that Tamil Nadu is an independent nation with its own Army, Navy and Air Force under the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tamil Nadu. Will the Sri Lankan Navy even dare to turn its guns towards our fishermen? If the tiny Sri Lankan Navy dared to kill and injure hundreds of Tamilnadu fishermen, the entire Sri Lankan Navy would have been at the bottom of the sea. No government, absolutely no government, would tolerate the killing of hundreds of its fishermen. Unfortunately Tamil Nadu does not have a sovereign government; it does not have a navy to protect its fishermen. Although our taxes support the Indian Navy, Indian Government refuses to order the navy to protect our fishermen. Oh, how we wish that Tamil Nadu is an independent nation with its own Army, Navy and Air Force under the Prime Minister of the Republic of Tamil Nadu.
1. Usha Ramanathan's articles on the killings of Tamil Nadu foshermen may be found by searching Usha Ramanathan Tamil Nadu fishermen India Sri Lankan navy.
2. Thanjai Nalankilli's articles on Tamil Nau independence, including reasons and can it be achieved may be found by searching Thanjai Nalankilli Tamil Nadu independence.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Here are some variations of names used in this article:
Chengkuttuvan - Chenkuttuvan
Cholan - Chozan, Chozhan
Kulasekhara - Kulasehara, Kulasekara
Lankapura - Lankapuri
Nalankilli - Nalangkilli, Nalan Killi
Nedum Cheral Athan - Nedum Cheralathan, Nedunjcheralathan, Neduncheralathan,
Nedunjchezhian - Nedunchezhian
Pandyan - Pandiyan, Pandian
Parakkirama - Parakirama, Parakrama
Rajathi Raja Cholan - Rajathiraja Chola, Rajathirajan, Rajathi Rajan
Rameshwaram - Rameswaram, Rameshvaram, Ramesvaram
Vijayan - Visayan
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