N. Ramakrishnan
N. Ramakrishnan

N. Ramakrishnan writes on infrastructure, renewable energy, cement and automobiles, and, of late, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ramki is passionate about journalism; loves nature, reading, bird-watching, photography, politics and urban development.

N Ramakrishnan

Tamil Nadu & Sri Lankan Tamils

| Updated on April 01, 2013 Published on April 01, 2013

The temperature in Chennai has begun to climb. Hardly surprising since it is summer. But, the heat that is being generated over the Sri Lankan Tamils issue is definitely surprising, given that the protests have been prolonged and widespread.

When political parties rake up the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, you can be sure that elections are round the corner and everyone is getting ready to milk this issue. This time too, Parliamentary elections are due in a year, and parties in the State hope to reap dividends from raising the tempo on the plight of Tamils in the island-nation.

If M. Karunanidhi could pull his party DMK out of the UPA Government at the Centre because the latter was not keen on making the wording of the United Nations Human Rights Commission stronger, then his arch rival Chief Minister J. Jayalilathaa could do one better. She said Tamil Nadu would not be able to provide security to IPL matches in Chennai that featured Sri Lankan players and officials. The Assembly passed a resolution calling for referendum in Sri Lanka for a separate Tamils homeland. She wanted the Prime Minister to not attend the Commonwealth meet in Sri Lanka.

When political parties protest, one is naturally sceptical. Not without reason. For, the DMK was in power in Tamil Nadu when all the atrocities Sri Lanka is accused of perpetrating happened, but the party did not think it fit to withdraw from the UPA. It just couldn’t afford to, as the DMK needed the Congress (I)’s support to be in power. And, Jayalalithaa said, in a war, there were bound to be civilian casualties.

But what is definitely surprising is the sustained protest in colleges, because of which they were closed down for quite a while. Students from institutions like Loyola College and IIT, who generally do not demonstrate their affiliations one way or the other to the point of being apathetic, have joined in the protests. What is behind this, one wonders.

Even more baffling is the protest by employees of IT companies in Chennai. They were out on the streets one day expressing their solidarity with the plight of the Lankan Tamils and demanding a stronger resolution in the UNHRC.

A friend attributed this to social media. Any takers for this reasoning?

On a different note, the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission has its new office on a main road in Chennai. Now, because of the protests, Sterling Road, on which the Deputy High Commission is located, and the side streets are barricaded and full of police. Residents (the author included) are definitely not happy.

Likewise, last year when some Muslim organisations protested a film and attacked the US consulate on arterial Anna Salai, traffic was affected for a few weeks, as vehicles were not allowed on the lane next to the consulate.

When the DMK was in power in the State, there was a move to provide land for the foreign missions along the Old Mahabalipuram Road. Some consular representatives even went and saw the area. It would have been ideal to shift all the foreign missions to outside the city, in terms of providing security cover. Will any forward thinking Government in the State take this up, please?

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Published on April 01, 2013
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