[act] SACW Dispatch - 4 Aug 99
- South Asia Citizens Web - Dispatch
4 August 1999
# 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
(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
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
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
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--
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
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)
434/3, Sri Jayawardenapura
E-mail : afej@...
Telephone : (+94-1) 829519 (4 lines)
Fax : (+94-1) 826607
or please visit our website
# 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.
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.