March 7, 2013
Saugata Roy speaks about the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka
Sir, I join to speak on the discussion under Rule 193 moved by Shri T.R. Baalu and also by Dr. Thambidurai. I can understand the anguish of Shri T.R. Baalu at the persecution of fellow Tamils but we feel the same way about the Bengalis demonstrating in Shahbag in Dhaka against the war criminals. When we share the same language even though it is a different country, here it is the question of emotional ties. That is why, we, as Bengalis, are with the people demonstrating against fundamentalist forces and war criminals in Shahbag, Dhaka. But I do not understand one thing about Shri T.R. Baalu. If you are so anguished about what is happening to the Sri Lankan Tamils and the Government of India`s attitude about it, why are you still in the Ministry? We, the TMC, had differences with the Government on hike in the diesel price and on the FDI issue, we left the Government. What is the big problem? Why are you sticking to the Government? That is the question which I would like him to answer.
Sir, I refer to the caution given by the hon. Speaker. She said that we should not talk irresponsibly about a neighbouring country, another country. It is true that Sri Lanka is another country; and as a policy, we should not interfere or talk about internal affairs of another country. Foreign Policy has always been dictated by national interest; and there has always been a consensus on Foreign Policy. So, I did not like the tenor of Yashwant Sinhaji’s speech where he tried to score brownie points. Maybe, he is still nostalgic about his stint in the Foreign Ministry where he flew abroad every two weeks. It should not have happened. Let us briefly trace the problem of Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Sir, as you know, Sri Lanka is separated by a 22 mile Palk Strait from Rameswaram to Dhanushkodi. People have swam across that Palk Strait also. The relations are very close. Now, there are several types of Tamils in Sri Lanka. One is the Plantation Tamils, those who are in Kandy doing tea plantations. The others are the Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been there for many years; and in the North, the Jaffna Tamils are mainly Hindus and Christians. There are big Christian Churches as well as Hindu Temples in the North. In the North-East, the Tamils are mainly Muslims. So, there is also a difference among Tamils in Sri Lanka.
Now, it is true that ever since Independence, Tamils have not got their proper rights in Sri Lanka. Earlier, there was the Democratic Party called TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front) led by Amritalingam. They tried democratically to project the demands of the Tamils. LTTE was formed in 1976, and, after antiTamil riots in 1983, which followed the ambush of the Sri Lankan Army patrol, many Tamils took to arms. I want to just state briefly that the present conditions of Tamils in Sri Lanka is as much the fault of the man called Velupillai Pirbhakaran as that of Sri Lankan leaders. Mr. Baalu, listen to me. I am not against your point. All I want to say is that you do not become like Vaiko. Remember that LTTE had murdered the leaders of EPRLF, another Tamil Group. They came to Chennai to murder the leaders of another TELO organization. LTTE was a thoroughly terrorist organization. First time — Yashwant Sinhaji did not acknowledge it — who really looked into the problems of Sri Lankan Tamils was Rajiv Gandhi, whom Yashwant Sinhaji criticized. In 1986, the Elephant Pass was closed. You know, between Jaffna and the mainland, there is the famous Elephant Pass. If you block that, you cannot go into the main body of Sri Lanka. The Tamils were disturbed. Rajiv Gandhi took the initiative to drop food grains in Jaffna. Do not forget that. Then in 1987, he signed the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord with Jayewardene. It was a progressive Accord. One of the most important things that was achieved was that the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was proposed. According to that Amendment, the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka were supposed to be merged to make it a homeland for traditional Tamil people living there. This is an agreement which was signed by Jayawardene, who was also called the `sly fox` by international commentators. Rajiv Gandhi, as a straightforward man, sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force. You have criticized the Indian Peace Keeping Force. The Indian Army could always finish LTTE but if you read all the accounts of IPKF campaign, you will read what they are saying– `We are fighting with our hands tied behind our backs.` An Army like Indian Army could finish LTTE in two weeks. We did not do that. We did not capture. – (Interruptions) Please understand. Mr. Anurag Singh, please listen to me.
You are young. You must learn about history. Do not be misled by Yashwant Sinha Ji. What happened? What happened was that we did not capture Pirabakharan. Earlier, Pirabakharan had come to Thimpu for discussion. He came and stayed at Ashoka Hotel in Delhi. Do not forget. We could have captured Pirabakharan. – (Interruptions) Please listen to me. I am praising. I am not condemning. I shall be brief. All I am saying is that Rajiv Ji genuinely tried for a solution of the Sri Lankan problem but the LTTE betrayed him. They surrendered their arms. One Jogirathinam laid down one pistol but the LTTE kept all their arms intact, which is why IPKF went into Sri Lanka to disarm the militants. – (Interruptions) Now I am talking of history. I will come to the subject. Just because I am a Bengali, they will not let me speak on Tamil issue. (Interruptions) I will come back. I will come to the subject matter. : Sir, what happened is, this story ends with 1991 when Rajiv Gandhi was cruelly assassinated by LTTE suicide bomber. That was not the end of LTTE terror. Then after Rajiv Gandhi lost power, Premadasa and LTTE became hand in glove. They wanted the IPKF out. At that time, Rajiv Gandhi was not in power. IPKF came out of Sri Lanka. – (Interruptions) I am a supporter of Vaiko. -(Interruptions) Mr. Palanimanickam, you are a Union Minister. I am an ordinary Member. You are a Minister of State. – (Interruptions) Now, I will come to the main topic. What happened?
Sir, LTTE went on with the terrorist activity. In 2005, Mahindra Rajapaksa became the President of Sri Lanka. For some reason, Mahindra Rajapaksa decided to take on the LTTE. He got arms from everywhere. His name is Mahindra and his brother is Gotabhaya. Then, he decided to take on the LTTE. – (Interruptions) Please listen to my words. – (Interruptions) I may like them. Since you are giving one sided view, I must tell here the entire story. Now, you leave the UPA and shout at me. Leave the Government. Resign from the Government. Why are they objecting it? I do not want to state history. : I will come to that. – (Interruptions)
Please understand – (Interruptions) Now, what happened between 2005 and 2009 is a story of genocide of the Tamil people. Sir, I finish in just two minutes. What happened was that there was a case of genocide. This genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka can be compared with genocide of Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the genocide in Rwanda in the sides between Hutus and Tutsis and even the genocide of Bengalis in Bangladesh by the Pakistani army. I agree that over one lakh Tamil people had died. Sir, one lakh Tamil people have died. Why did it happen? Part of the fault again lies with the LTTE. Instead of taking to Guerrilla warfare, they changed their tactics and tried to fight like a conventional army. The Sri Lankan army was better equipped and they totally decimated the Tamils. And, what the LTTE also did, they put civilians as human shields in front of the rampaging Sri Lankan army. – (Interruptions) : I am saying that LTTE had a bad defence and they did that. – (Interruptions) Sir, I will conclude. – (Interruptions).