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DMKs Tamil Solution:TAKE ISSUE TO WORLD FORUM, by Syed Ali Mujtaba,17 February 2009 Print E-mail

Open Forum

New Delhi, 17 February 2009

DMK’s Tamil Solution

TAKE ISSUE TO WORLD FORUM

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The ruling DMK government in Tamil Nadu is making all efforts to ensure an honourable settlement of the Tamil question in Sri Lanka. Its latest initiative is the formation of the Forum for Welfare and Rights of Lankan Tamils.  

The Forum comprises several parties, including the ruling DMK's main ally the Congress. This forum’s aim is to pressurize the Union government to internationalize the sufferings of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and to rope in the international community to hammer out a negotiated settlement of the Tamil problem.

However, the moot question is: will the Indian government take up the case of the Sri Lankan Tamils to the international forum, at the behest of its trusted ally, the DMK and if so what will be its stand on the issue of internationalizing the Kashmir issue?

Since the past 60 years India has been skirting the Kashmir case, using its diplomatic prowess to avoid any international arbitrator, notwithstanding its lap dog Pakistan barking at it on its face and being seen as the mother of terrorism in South Asia.     

Then again another question comes up: Will the DMK continue its honeymoon with the UPA, which is still holding on to its constituency that’s seething with anger over the Tamil question? The State has reported a few suicides and several protests have taken place in different parts of Tamil Nadu over this issue. The situation is so grave the State government has ordered closure of colleges anticipating more protests and issued warnings of the protestors being arrested under the National Security Act if need be.

With the General elections likely to be held in April, these developments do not auger well for the ruling DMK government. Thus it has decided to float the Forum for Welfare and Rights of Lankan Tamils and send the message that it cares for the Tamil cause. However, the question remains how effective would this mechanism be to serve its purpose? Skeptics feel that it’s an evasive tactic meant to distract the surging emotions seething in the State and that the DMK has to make a choice soon.

In the meantime, a sub-committee has been formed to assist the Forum with the State PWD Minister Durai Murugan being its organizer. Union Minister for Communications A. Raja, Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi and Dravidar Kazhagam president K.Veeramani are its secretaries. Other members include former judges; S. Mohan, P.R. Gokulakrishnan, A.K. Rajan, and Samidurai.

So far the sub-committee has held two meetings and chalked out a plan of action for ensuring the safety of the Sri Lankan Tamils. It has adopted a resolution calling upon the Centre to take speedy steps to implement the proposal made by President Pratibha Patil calling for a negotiated political settlement to the Lankan ethnic crisis.

The sub-committee has also urged the Centre to move the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council to ensure immediate ceasefire in Sri Lanka restore peace and stop the “genocide” of the Tamils. The members have decided to meet the President, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to explain the need to approach the United Nations under 11 (2) of the Charter of UN in this matter.

In another move, the committee has prepared a memorandum asking India to appeal for deploying the International Peace Keeping Forces under article 24 (1) to maintain peace and security and secure civil and political rights for the Tamils under article 41 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  Besides, it wants the Central government to appeal to the SAARC nations to call upon the Lankan government to give equal rights to the Tamils.

At the same time, the committee is contemplating whether to take up the issue legally and a drafting committee is being formed to prepare the memorandum to be submitted to the international bodies. In addition the committee has decided to meet Ambassadors and High Commissioners of various countries either in New Delhi and Chennai and make a presentation detailing the “sufferings” of the Tamils.

Given the complexity of the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, one wonders whether internationalizing it would serve India’s purpose or will it weaken its Kashmir case. In order to placate its electoral partner, that too with just few months to go for general election, the UPA would like to eat the cake and have it too.

Though it can’t call the shots, the Union Government through Home Minister P Chidambaram has recently sought to urge the LTTE to lay down arms, following which it would intervene and arrange for a negotiated settlement. In a public meeting in Chennai Chidambaram said” The Indian Government will definitely arrange for a dialogue if the LTTE lays down arms and came forward for talks. A good solution can be found to the 40 lakhs Tamils in Sri Lanka. “     

While the Union government has a Hobson’s choice over the Sri Lankan Tamil issue, the DMK has little to choose from. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi has already expressed his unhappiness over the Central government's actions in this matter.  He has unequivocally said that “While the DMK is far from satisfied at the Centre's approach, in my opinion Pranab Mukherjee is not happy at the turn of events. India should back a UN sponsored ceasefire in Sri Lanka.”

The DMK president has also expressed his irritation over the repeated criticism of different political parties against the State government on this issue.  He has openly opined that the “continued politicization of the Sri Lankan Tamils' suffering through violence is an obvious sign of a conspiracy to dislodge the DMK government. Our forum will hold public meetings throughout the State to educate the masses in the matter and press for meaningful devolution of power and the honorable existence of Tamils in Sri Lanka,

In the given crunch situation, it would not be a happy sailing for the DMK in the coming Lok Sabha polls. It can’t sail in the UPA boat if it wants to keep its constituency intact. As it is, there are many political parties already crowding the political space in Tamil Nadu, and one wrong move would trip the DMK patriarch from its tight rope walk. Clearly, an interesting situation in the political circus is emerging, which needs to be watched closely. How this story would play itself out the coming weeks will tell. ---INFA

(Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

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