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[act] SACW Dispatch - 4 Aug 99

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch 4 August 1999 Contents: # 1. India sends confused signals on Lanka extremists # 2. Let Me Visit India # 3. Congress of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 4, 1999
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      South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch
      4 August 1999

      Contents:
      # 1. India sends confused signals on Lanka extremists
      # 2. Let Me Visit India
      # 3. Congress of Environmental Journalists
      # 4. Letter by Peace activist from Calcutta
      # 5. New Delhi Peace actions on Actions on 6 August 1999
      --------------------------------

      # 1.
      (Inter Press Service)
      August 4, 1999


      India sends confused signals on Lanka extremists

      By Praful Bidwai in New Delhi

      The July 29 assassination of Neelan Tiruchelvam, one of Sri
      Lanka's foremost intellectuals, who tirelessly fought to end the
      island's 16 year-long ethnic conflict, has attracted strong
      condemnation from the world over.

      Many governments have been forthright in naming the Liberation
      Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the suspected culprit in the suicide-
      bombing of Tiruchelvam's car: the method is a virtual trade-mark
      characteristic of the terrorist group, which has killed dozens of
      Sri Lankan leaders, as well as former Indian prime minister Rajiv
      Gandhi.

      Strangely, however, India has sent out ambivalent signals on the
      issue of the LTTE's involvement, although it stands to lose a
      great deal from that group's predatory activities, especially in
      the southern part of the country. Along with other evidence of
      senior Indian leaders' recent dealings with Eelam (Tamil
      homeland) activists, this could have harmful consequences for Sri
      Lanka's society and politics, and for Indo-Sri Lanka relations.

      On July 30, India's foreign ministry spokeperson expressed
      "shock" at Tiruchelvam's "brutal killing". This was in keeping
      with New Delhi's opposition to all political assassinations. But
      India did not name the LTTE, although it was widely suspected to
      be involved, on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

      The LTTE recently warned all Tamil MPs against cooperating with
      the government. It normally steps up its terrorist activities
      during the "Black July" week, commemorating the anniversary of
      the July 22-29 pogrom of Tamils 16 years ago. Last week too,
      there were reports of infiltration of "Black Tigers" (suicide
      bombers) into Colombo, as well as into Tamil Nadu in India.

      Tiruchelvam was perhaps Sri Lanka's internationally best-known
      scholar and Constitutional authority. He drafted far-reaching
      legal and constitutional measures for decentralisation, known as
      the "devolution package" adopted by the ruling People's Alliance.

      President Chandrika Kumaratunga was scheduled to pilot this
      through parliament this month. Tiruchelvam's role as an
      institution-builder (of the International Centre for Ethnic
      Studies, and the Law and Society Trust), and a tireless peace and
      human rights activist was also noteworthy.

      However, the Indian statement reduced him to "a member of the Sri
      Lankan Parliament, an eminent lawyer and distinguished leader of
      the TULF"--a clear mis-description. The official spokesperson on
      July 30 read out a prepared statement, but immediately
      "clarified" that it was issued only "in response to a question".

      This was factually incorrect. But it indicated that New Delhi
      does not think the issue worth a strong comment on merits. This
      conveys to the Sri Lankan public that India does not wish to take
      a clear, unambiguous stand on the LTTE.

      Sri Lanka's Tamil community keeps a sharp eye on all fine nuances
      in India's diplomatic statements and in its media reactions.

      Some editorials in the Indian press too tended to trivilise
      Tiruchelvam's importance. For instance, a national daily reduced
      his significance to that of a mere mediator in the 1987 India-Sri
      Lanka accord which inaugurated India's disastrous policy of
      sending a "peace-keeping" military force, severely eroding Sri
      Lanka's sovereignty and causing enormous resentment.

      As if on taking a cue from India, as well as out of fear of the
      ruthless LTTE, very few Tamils in Sri Lanka have spoken out
      against the assassination. According to the "Indian Express"
      (August 3), many Colombo Tamils are reluctant to take a strong
      stand.

      The pro-LTTE media in Sri Lanka has gloated in the relatively low
      attendance at memorial meetings for Tiruchelvam, says the
      "Express". One pro-LTTE paper described him as "pro-government",
      while lampooning "moderate Tamils". The Kumaratunga government is
      the first regime in Colombo to be politely committed to
      devolution of power to minority communities.

      The context for the present stance of the right-wing Indian
      government, led by the Bharatiya Janata Party, was set by a
      number of developments which suggest a soft line on the LTTE.

      Present defence minister, George Fernandes, has long been an
      enthusiastic supporter of the LTTE. In December 1997, before
      joining government, he organised a highly controversial public
      convention of pro-LTTE elements in New Delhi, to which the home
      ministry objected. (The LTTE is a banned organisation following
      Rajiv Gandhi's assassination). Fernandes nevertheless went ahead
      and held it on the spacious lawns of his bungalow. The convention
      was attended by delegates from Sri Lanka, Australia, France, and
      India.

      The delegates openly supported the the LTTE and resolved to work
      for unbanning it. "No matter what the obstacles are, we will hold
      similar state-level conferences. We are ready to face any
      consequences," Fernandes said at the convention. "The basic
      purpose of this convention is to make the people of India aware
      of Tamil Eelam and making them part of their struggle.... Their
      (the LTTE's) cause is just".

      The convention passed a resolution asking the Sri Lankan
      government to withdraw its army from Tamil areas, stop human
      rights violations, and recognise that "the LTTE represents the
      Tamil people". It also asked for the abolition of India's Jain
      Commission, inquiring into Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

      In July 1998, under Fernandes' instructions, the Indian Navy was
      asked not to intercept ships suspected to bear illegal arms for
      guerrilla groups. Three such ships were let off.

      Later, it was reported that Indian forces had downgraded their
      patrolling of the Palk Straits dividing Sri Lanka from Tamil
      Nadu. "The Tigers are able to get whatever Tamil Nadu can supply.
      The coastline is very porous," the "Hindustan Times" reported.

      On March 11, the Indian Navy allowed gun-runners aboard "MV
      Mariamma" to escape and dump their cache at sea. The trawler was
      reported to be carrying arms for the LTTE. This followed a sudden
      change in interception plans.

      On December 5, a number of Indian ministers, including home
      minister L. K. Advani and Fernandes, attended the wedding of the
      son of coalition partner and MDMK leader V. Gopalasamy (Vaiko).
      Also present were LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran's father Velupillai,
      and Kasi Ananthan, a suspect in the Rajiv Gandhi case. Several
      pro-LTTE, pro-Eelam speeches were made at the reception.

      Fernandes has been actively supporting the LTTE cause
      financially, through the Fund-raising Committee for Protection of
      Tamils. He was recently (April) praised by the LTTE press as a
      more reliable ally of the the LTTE than many Tamil politicians.

      All this has stoked suspicions that the BJP-led coalition has
      definite sympathies for the LTTE. Vaiko's MDMK has since moved
      towards merger with the DMK, the BJP's most important coalition
      partner in the South, which it had once accused of harbouring
      pro-LTTE sympathies. There are numerous media reports of
      increased LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu, and of its growing links
      with Tamil politicians.

      In the early 1980s, this "Madras factor" got India involved in
      the Sri Lankan quagmire. India armed, trained and funded Tamil
      groups, including the LTTE. Later, it turned against them. It
      coerced Sri Lanka into signing the 1987 accord.

      Today, there is no Indian support to Eelam militants. But there
      are growing fears that the BJP-led government has a strange,
      secret agenda connected with the LTTE. Its response to
      Tiruchelvam's killing is bound to strengthen these fears.--end--
      -----------------------
      # 2.
      Source:
      The Nation (Pakistan)
      May ?, 1999

      LET ME VISIT INDIA

      by Amar Jaleel

      Many years ago when I was born for no obvious reason, India was one big
      country. It was British India then. Thus, I was born a British Indian. I
      am not conversant with the legal or illegal status of dual or multiple
      nationalities available to a person. I very strongly feel I am in
      possession of three nationalities. I was born a British, as well as an
      Indian national. After the disintegration of India, and coming into
      being of Pakistan, I automatically became a Pakistani national!
      Therefore, technically I have three nationalities, but of no avail!
      I don't think there was any logical reason behind my coming into this
      world. We all are pre-ordained first to be born, and then die just for
      nothing. You can't come to this world on your own. I, on a very ordinary
      day, was born in a small, neat and clean city of British India, called
      Karachi, along with countless other children. We were born in different
      parts of India in different families, and different communities.
      Providence did not give us an option to determine the caste, creed,
      community and the family of our choice. Thus, we were simply born. It
      did not take us long to realise that we were not merely children. We
      were Hindus, we were Muslims, we were Sikhs, we were Parsis, we were
      Christians, we were Bohras, we were Jews, we were Bahais, and we were
      Khojas.
      I was born to my mother in Karachi. All her life she lived under an
      illusion she had given birth to the most beautiful creature on earth. It
      was after her passing away that I was left exposed to the unsavoury
      opinion of the world. I realised I was the ugliest creature ever born to
      a mother! But then, mothers are after all mothers. They cuddle even pigs
      born to them.
      I was 10 years of age when British India disintegrated. Our elders who
      had lived together for centuries decided not to live together anymore.
      They opted for the parting of the ways. They partitioned India. Brothers
      are always like that. They vie for the division of the movable as well
      as immovable ancestral property. They partition geography. They
      partition history. They have divided, subdivided, and partitioned the
      entire earth. What they have not been able to partition is the sun, the
      moon, and the stars up in the sky.
      I have no intention to discuss the division of India. I intend to
      discuss my deep desire to see India. I am an ardent student of history,
      archaeology, and anthropology. I want to visit Benaras to see Asoka's
      pillar of three lions I want to go to Bhopal to behold the enormous
      Sanchi Stupa. I want to be in Mathura. I desire to witness the glory and
      splendour of the fresco paintings on the walls and the ceilings of the
      Ajanta Caves. I want to be in Kashi, Mysore, Ajmer, Delhi, Agra, Shimla,
      Pune, Goa, Calcutta, and Bombay. I want to pay my homage to Ghalib,
      Krishen Chander, Sahir Ludhianvi, Bedi, Mehboob, and Mohammed Rafi, and
      the immortal Sindhi singer Master Chandar, and poet Narayan Sham, the
      personal friend of Shaikh Ayaz.
      In India I have a very dear friend, Lukshman Bhatia Komal. We have never
      met. He is a Sindhi poet, playwright, and a professional journalist. And
      above all a sufi. Having worked for The Times of India, and The
      Illustrated Weekly of India for a quarter of a century in senior
      positions, Komal has recently retired.
      I have often wondered why Komal and I haven't met. I am a timid and
      cowardly person. I am afraid of the hyenas. Had he been Gopichand
      Narang, who very often comes to Lahore to deliver lectures on the art
      and poetry of Allama Iqbal, I would have met Komal, and kept him in my
      humble abode. But Lukshman Bhatia Komal is not Gopichand Narang. He does
      not deliver lectures on the art and poetry of Allama Iqbal. He
      deliberates on the art and poetry of Shah Latif, and Sachal Sarmast.
      Thus, a potential threat!
      Countries are neither created nor disintegrated by the wanderers who
      toil for truth under the scorching sun on the burning sands of the
      desert of deception. The mureeds (followers) of Shah Latif and Sachal
      Sarmast do not either affect, or are affected by, the Two Nation Theory.
      They do not discuss annihilation. They discuss perpetuation of life
      after life, and the liberation of the soul. The hungry hyenas that trap
      you are never moved by the abstraction. They tear you apart.
      I have gathered from newspaper reports that I stand a fairly good chance
      of meeting Komal and seeing India with him. I fall within the category
      of visitors from Pakistan who would not be hounded by the Indian hyenas.
      The fortunate visitors would not be required to present themselves
      before the police officers immediately after landing in India. They
      would be at liberty to move freely in otherwise a forbidden country!
      I have made up my mind to visit India, but I feel shackled by two
      problems. I fall within the privileged persons to visit India on an
      extended visa, but I have retired. I am an 'ex-privileged' person. Am I
      entitled to visit India without reporting at Police Stations there?
      Secondly, is it safe for me to visit Indian Embassy in Pakistan for a
      visa without being followed by the hyenas in this world, and the world
      beyond this world, till eternity?

      ------------------------------
      # 3. Congress of Environmental Journalists

      11th Asia Pacific and 2nd Commonwealth Congress Of Environmental Journalists
      Dhaka - Bangladesh. September 13 - 17, 1999
      For more information please contact;
      Dharman Wickremaratne, Chairman
      Asia-Pacific Forum of Environmental Journalists (AFEJ)
      P.O.Box 26
      434/3, Sri Jayawardenapura
      Sri Lanka.
      E-mail : afej@...
      Telephone : (+94-1) 829519 (4 lines)
      Fax : (+94-1) 826607
      or please visit our website
      http://www.oneworld.org/slejf
      -------------------------
      # 4. Letter by Peace activist from Calcutta [August 4, 199]

      [...]
      here are some news of anti-war protests in west bengal and repression on
      the activists for information of the concerned south asian citizens.
      perhaps you are aware that campaigns have been going on here jointly and
      and independently by varous activist groups since the very beginning of
      escalation of the border conflict between india and pakistan. all these
      groups are stressing the need for a lasting peace based on dialogue and
      mutual trust, unhindered people-to-people contant in the interest of
      regional development, and a solution of the kashmir issue taking into
      confidence the wishes and opinions of the people of the whole of kashmir.
      the peace activists are also facing intimidation by state and non-state
      forces from the start. two notable examples are: 1. on 10 july, three
      student campaigners, one woman and two men, were arrested at the sealdah
      railway station in calcutta after being assaulted by some hooligans who
      set fire to their makeshift stage and even tried to drag the woman into
      the fire. the police released them on personal bonds that night with a
      condition to attend court on 16 july. on that day, they were charged with
      anti-national activity and conspiracy against the state, their bonds were
      cancelled and they had been remanded in judicial custody by the
      magistrate, sealdah court. later they got bail, but the case is still going
      on. there was a large procession from the college square and a meeting was
      held at the sealdah station, the site of the incident, in protest. 2. on
      25 july, another group of activists were beaten up and arrested while they
      were holding a street-corner meeting at the diamond harbour bus stand in
      the south 24 parganas district. those arrested included debashish
      chowdhury, president of the diamond harbour branch of the association for
      protection of democratic rights (apdr). they were charged with sedition and
      kept in jail until they got bail on 3 august. a procession of 200 people
      welcomed the activists back. these kind of incidents are taking place
      not only in west bengal but also in other states. ashis gupta, a
      well-known journalist and secretary-general of the north-eastern
      coordination on human rights (necohr) has been detained under the national
      security act since 11 june in guwahati, assam, for issuing a press
      statement calling for immediate pullout of both india and pakistan from
      kashmir and peace on the border. the movement against militarisation and
      nuclearisation of south asia is also slowly gaining momentum. in calcutta,
      another big campaign is planned on hiroshima day, 6 august. there must be
      similar campaigns going on also in pakistan and other places. we look
      forward to hearing the news.
      in solidarity,
      Nilanjan Dutta. (Calcutta)
      --------------------------------
      # 5. New Delhi Peace actions on Actions on 6 August 1999

      There will be two marches on 6 August. One is a specifically anti-nuclear
      protest march and the other is a more general peace march organised by
      Citizens Against War. Please do join in, and please pass the message on
      to friends relatives and acquaintances

      1. The anti-nuclear march will leave from behind Red Fort, near Shantivan
      at 10:15 AM and proceed to Firozeshah Kotla.

      2. The Citizens Against War march will leave Firozeshah Kotla at noon and
      proceed to Mandi House.

      See you all on Friday, hopefully by 10 AM.
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