தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home

 Whats New

Trans State Nation Tamil Eelam Beyond Tamil Nation Comments Search

Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam >Rajiv Gandhi Assassination > Jain Commission Interim Report -Introduction & Index  > Scope & Parameters of Inquiry > Growth of Sri Lanka Tamil Militancy in Tamil Nadu - Index > Background - Sections 1 to 4 > Background - Sections 5 to 13

Jain Commission Interim Report

Growth of Sri Lankan Tamil Militancy in Tamil Nadu
Background - Sections 5 to 13

 

5. Emergence of Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups | 6. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) | 7. Eelam Revolutionary Organisers (EROS) | 8. Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) | 9. Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) | 10. People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) | 11. The problem of Indian Tamil Labourers settled in Sri Lanka | 12. Brief history of early settlers and the present condition of life | 13. Growth of Tamil chauvinism in India


Emergence of Sri Lankan Tamil Militant Groups

7 Taking the overall effect of these circumstances in its totality, it becomes apparent that due to the prevailing circumstances, stage had been set for the Militant elements among the aggrieved Tamil minorities to take over the struggle for equal rights. The militant movement, it is seen, which had its embryonic beginning during this period, thrived indiscriminately largely owing to the obdurately pursued confrontationalist policies of the Sri Lankan Government in attempting to subdue a significant section of their own people. Militancy of the Sri Lankan Tamil groups gradually spilled over to the Indian shores and the confluence of circumstances led to developments which became directly relevant to the tragic assassination of Shri Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. The growth of Tamil militancy in India has been dealt with separately in details.

A brief profile of various Sri Lankan militant groups as they emerged during the late seventies shows that by 1981 the Tamil militancy had reached a stage where it could cause a serious threat to Sri Lanka. Some of the important militant organisations, which emerged during this period are profiled below:-


Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

7.1 The LTTE was founded on May 5th 1976 as a successor to Tamil New Tigers (TNT). The TNT was started by V. Pirabhakaran on 22nd May, 1972, soon after the promulgation of the Republican Constitution. Velupillai Prabhakaran - a Koraivarar fisherman by caste - was born on 26.11.1954 , to T.Velupillai, a Malaysian of Tamil origin, who was a district land officer in Jaffna. V. Pirabhakaran was deeply traumatised by seeing one of his uncles burnt alive during the language riots of 1958. Pirabhakaran gradually emerged as a fascist militant leader with a cult of personality in the militant movement. The bitter internal rivalries that were to mark the Tamil struggle in later years were absent then and Pirabhakaran, along with others attended training camps organised by EROS functionaries. In 1972, V. Prabhakaran sailed to India with others including Thangadurai and Kuttimani. He returned to Sri Lanka in 1974.

The first major strike of the TNT was the assassination of the Mayor of Jaffna. On July 27, 1975 Alfred Duriappah, the Tamil Mayor of Jaffna and chief organiser of the SLFP in the region, went to the Varadaraja Perumal temple at Ponnalai in Jaffna. Four young men waiting for him at the temple attacked him as soon as he got out of his car. One of them opened fire from point blank range. The mayor tried to escape but collapsed in a pool of blood. The assailants jumped into Duriappah's car and sped away.

On 05.03.1976 V. Pirabhakaran led a raid on the State run People's Bank, Puttur and escaped with half a million rupees in cash and jewelry worth Rs.2 lakhs after holding the employees at gun point.

7.1.1 Soon after this crime, V. Pirabhakaran founded the LTTE on 5th May, 1976. After the founding of the LTTE, on Aug. 16, 1977, the Police and the Tamil Youth, clashed in Jaffna. This triggered off anti- Tamil riots resulting in major loss of life and property of Tamils and the creation of a large number of refugees. Violence became frequent in the Northern Peninsula. At least one incident of violence and confrontation was reported every day.

On January, 1978, the LTTE shot dead M.Canagaratnam in Colombo. He was a TULF MP who had switched allegiance to the ruling UNP after the 1977 elections. Uma Maheswaran and V. Pirabhakaran were stated to be involved in this crime. It was the first LTTE hit outside the Tamil majority north east.

On April 7, 1978, a police party led by Inspector Bastinpillai on their way to raid an LTTE training camp was attacked and the victims killed. Uma Maheswaran took part in the killing.

On April 25, 1978 the LTTE came out into the open for the first time accepting responsibility for the murders of Mayor Duriappah, an alleged Police agent called N.Nadaraja and 9 policemen including Bastian Pillai. The claim was made in a LTTE letter head marked "to whom it may concern" inscribed in the now famous insignia of the roaring Tiger. This claim was published in the Tamil daily Veerkesari, and with this, the LTTE's existence came to be known publicly.

7.1.2 On May 22, 1978, the LTTE was banned in Sri Lanka by the President JR Jayawardhane, who passed the "Proscription of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and Other Similar Organisations Ordinance", outlawing all Tamil militant groups. In May, the police issued a list of 38 "wanted" men in which the name of V. Pirabhakaran also figured. 7.1.3 Some of the terrorist crimes after the banning, which are attributed to the LTTE are as follows :-

On 07.09.1978 the Sri Lankan Parliament introduced a new constitution. On that day, an AVRO 748 aircraft of Air Ceylon was blasted by the LTTE by means of a time bomb after it landed at Ratnamala Airport, near Colombo with 35 passengers from Jaffna. One of the two suspects, who could not be arrested, was KSS.Subramaniam, alias Baby, who is now the most loyal confidante of LTTE chief V. Pirabhakaran. After the AVRO blast, Subramaniam came to be called "Avro Baby".

On 5 th December, 1978 - LTTE committed a dacoity at Tinnevelly Peoples Bank and took away Rs 16.8 Lakhs killing police officers and looting their weapons.

On December 5th, 1979 the LTTE raided the People's Bank and decamped with Rs. 12 lakhs rupees after killing two police men and wounding a third.

7.1.4 The growing cult of violence led the Sri Lankan Government to repeal the Proscription of Liberation Tigers etc. Ordinance . The Government, in its place, enacted the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).Simultaneously, the police launched a crackdown which forced militants, including Pirabhakaran, to flee to Tamil Nadu. The growth and activities of the LTTE during the eighties have been dealt with separately.


Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students or Eelam Revolutionary Organisers (EROS) is perhaps the only militant group today which works in collaboration with the LTTE. This group was formed in London in 1975 by Eliyathamby Ratnasabapathy, a Sri Lankan Tamil who was residing in Britain. The EROS became known only when its student wing-the General Union of Eelam Students (GUES) was subsequently formed in Madras. The EROS drew its cadres mainly from Batticaloa and Amparai districts in Eastern Sri Lanka. It was the first Tamil group which attempted to establish a close working relationship with the Muslims of Eastern Sri Lanka , who constitute the second largest ethnic group in the eastern province next to Tamils. In late 1975, they planned a four point agenda to win over the Muslims of the eastern province. The agenda, inter-alia, envisaged that the EROS would work with Muslims to settle problems of the other groups with Muslims and to have plans for military action when the necessity arises;

In 1976, EROS embarked upon a programme of training by opening a militant training camp in Vavuniya, Northern Sri Lanka. Subsequently, EROS and LTTE reached an agreement and used this camp as their main base for military training. V. Prabhakaran, received his initial training at this camp. Meanwhile, the EROS leadership in London struck a relationship with Syed Hameed, the PLO Representative in U.K, who later arranged training for EROS cadres, as well as LTTE cadres, in Lebanon. In May 1976, after a visit to Beirut by an EROS representative, contact was established with the dreaded PLO leader Abu Jehad, (who was subsequently killed by the Israelis). A message was sent to Vavuniya to dispatch cadres for advanced training to Lebanon. EROS and LTTE trained together with the Palestinians in late 1976 and 1977. Around this time, signs of dissent had developed between Uma Maheswaran, the Chairman of the LTTE who was close to the TULF leadership, and V. Prabhakaran, who was an important member of the group. EROS wanted to defuse the tension and sent Uma Maheswaran for training to Lebanon in 1977. In 1980, EROS and its student wing GUES split and the EPRLF was formed.


7.3 Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF) was a break-away faction of EROS. In 1979/1980, differences over the absence of the leadership in London and organisational problems such as democratic centralism arose among the EROS leaders in Sri Lanka. The EPRLF started as a leftist group with a strong Marxist element. In 1982, they formed a military wing and later indulged in several militant activities. The policies and activities of EPRLF were strongly influenced by its leader, K. Padmanabha, who had been trained in 1976 in Lebanon by the PLO and had a political as well as a military mind. Other important leaders of the EPRLF who emerged during its inception were Varadarajah Perumal ( who later became the Chief Minister of North-Eastern Provinces) and Ketheeswaran .

7.3.1 EPRLF reached its peak during 1988 when Vardharaja Perumal was elected and installed as the Chief Minister of North Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. However, after the de-induction of the IPKF, this organisation was set upon by the LTTE. K. Padmanabha, the General Secretary along with several other important EPRLF functionaries were assassinated on 19th June 1990 at Madras.


7.4 Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO):-

This organisation was formally founded in 1979 though it was in existence since 1968 as an unstructured organisation. TELO has its origins in the Thangadorai group under the leadership of Thangadorai and Kuttimani. In one of their major criminal acts, on March. 25, 1981, the TELO committed robbery by ambushing a "Peoples Bank" van which was returning to Jaffna town with the day's collection. An amount of Rs. 78 lakh rupees was looted and several policemen killed in this robbery masterminded by Kuttimani. On April 5, 1981, Kuttimani, Thangadurai and Sellathurai Sivasubramaniam alias Thevan were arrested at Mannalkadal, near Point Pedro, while trying to escape in a boat to India. After the arrest of Thangadorai and Kuttimani, Sri Sabaratnam took over the TELO leadership. The three important TELO leaders Thangadurai, Kuttimani and Jegan were killed in a prison massacre in Wellawatte in 1983 while they were incarcerated there. After the death of these leaders, TELO could never regroup and in the ensuing internecine skirmishes, the LTTE virtually liquidated this organisation by the middle of eighties.


7.5 People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam

(PLOTE) was founded in 1980 by Karthiragamar Uma Maheswaran alias Mukundan who became its General Secretary. He was the Chairman of the LTTE from 1977-1980. he was trained in Lebanon and later in Syria. After a bitter rivalry with Velupillai Prabhakaran, Uma Maheswaran left the LTTE in 1980, and formed PLOTE.

7.5.1 PLOTE was active in cultivating international connections: it established links with Dr.George Habash's Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Communist party of Tunisia, the Communist-Leninist Party of Algeria, the Turkish Organisation for Solidarity with Palestine, the African National Congress, the FMLN of EI Salvador, the Sandinistas of Nicaragua and the ruling parties of Mauritius and Cuba.

7.5.2 PLOTE lost its strength and momentum gradually due to the increasing criminalisation of its cadres and despotic methods of Uma Maheswaran. In July 1989, Uma Maheswaran was shot dead in Colombo suspectedly due to intra-organisational differences.

7.6 Several other minor militant groups had mushroomed in Sri Lanka by then; however, their roles and existence is not significant during the period in question. Role of militant groups notably the Tamil Eelam Army (TEA) is more significant during the mid-eighties and has been dealt with separately.


The Problem of Indian Tamil Labourers Settled in Sri Lanka and its Impact on Relations Between India and Sri Lanka

8 An important bilateral issue which had its repercussions in Tamil Nadu and tended to strengthen the feelings of Indian Tamils that gross racial discrimination was being practiced by the Sri Lanka Government against Tamils was the problem of stateless tea estate coolies of Sri Lanka.

8.1 In Sri Lanka there exist about 9 lakh stateless persons of Indian origin. These people are descendants of the Indian Tamil labourers who had migrated to Sri Lanka from India in the nineteenth century to work in the British owned plantations of the Central highlands of Sri Lanka. The problem of the stateless Tamils of Indian origin is a cause for concern in general for the Government of India and especially for the state of Tamil Nadu, from where these labourers had originally migrated.

8.2 The problem of conferring citizenship and enfranchisement rights to Indian labourers took a new turn when Sri Lanka became an independent country on 4th February, 1948. The first post- independence legislation in this regard was the Indian and Pakistani Resident (Citizenship) Act, 1948. This Act, inter-alia, stipulated certain conditions for registering the Indian Tamil migrants as citizens. This implied that the persons rejected for registration were to be repatriated to India, which was not agreed upon by India. The Act was also not acceptable to India because it discriminated against Indian Tamil settlers who were citizens by registration and the others who are citizens by descent. These stateless citizens became issues of several bilateral relations between India and Sri Lanka. Some notable efforts to arrive at a solution to this irritant were the Jawaharlal Nehru - Dudley Senanayake talks in 1953 at London, Nehru - Kotewala Pact, 1954, Lal Bahadur Shastri - Srimavo Bandaranayake Pact, 1964 and its follow up actions. However, this problem remained a major issue and could not be satisfactorily solved with the result that while some Tamil settlers kept pouring into India after applying for and obtaining Indian citizenship , the bulk remained in Sri Lanka and continued to face statelessness. On January 30th, 1986, a serious attempt was made to solve this problem when the " Grant of Citizenship Bill" was passed. This Bill sought to end this long standing problem and a beginning in this direction was made when 94,000 stateless Tamils of Indian origin were granted Sri Lankan citizenship through this legislation.

8.3 Annexure - I appended to the Affidavit no. 87/93- JCI of Shri P. Nedumaran, which contains a report on the situation prevailing in Sri Lanka during 1981, makes a detailed reference to this problem. Relevant extracts of the Annexure are reproduced below :-


"Brief History of Early Settlers and the Present Condition of Life"

"A major portion of Sri Lanka's National Income is due to be hard labour of Tamil plantation workers. Yet their lot is lamentable.

Roughly 150 years ago Tamils migrated to Ceylon and started life as plantation workers. Indian repatriation in foreign countries was banned without the basic needs of life being assured to them by an act in 1837 by the British Government. Several delegations were sent by the Ceylon Government to request the Government of India to send repatriates with an assurance to grant political, cultural, social and economic rights. A resolution to this effect was passed in the Ceylon Legislature in 1837 and the request was made to Government of India to permit Tamil plantation laborers to be repatriated. When a strict ban was introduced to stop repatriation to Ceylon in 1839 by the Government of India, the Ceylon Government entreated the Government of India to allow repatriation and liberalise the Act. Indian labour was in great demand to convert the forests in to plantations. Firm hopes were given to the labour force from Madurai, Ramanathapuram, Tirunelveli and Tanjore districts in Tamil Nadu. Constant propaganda was made assuring reasonable salary, free housing education, medical facilities, the right to purchase property etc., to encourage repatriates.

For the purpose of recruiting labour force a Ceylon Immigration officer was appointed in India, Tamils in large number were recruited and settled in Ceylon. Ever since, they have contributed their hard labour towards reclamation of forest-lands into rich estates. The Tamils of Indian origin at present belong probably to the fourth or fifth generation of the early settlers and therefore are entitled to citizenship by birth. Today, unfortunately they are stateless and are being driven out. They have become victims of racial discrimination and face repatriation to India.

There were nearly 10 lakh Tamils of Indian origin in Sri Lanka in the early sixties and two thirds of them were declared stateless as shown below.

Tamils of Indian Origin  9,75,000
Tamils who secured Citizenship 2,84,000
Stateless Tamils 6,91,000

The Srimavo-Shastri Agreement between the Governments of India and Sri Lanka was signed in 1964. The main objective should have been to obtain citizenship for the Tamils of Indian Origin who were born, educated and employed in Sri Lanka. On the other hand and the agreement aimed at strengthening the friendship between the two Governments and thus overlooked the interest of the Tamils. According to the pact 2,50,000 Tamils of Indian Origin were guaranteed citizenship among the stateless and the rest was to be repatriated to India. Despite pressure being brought on the Sri Lanka Government by the TULF the agreement was not carried out in letter and spirit. No citizenship has been granted to them till today.

Among those declared stateless 3,39,000 returned to India. Meanwhile due to increase in population the number of Tamils of Indian Origin rose to 12,00,000 Alarmed by this increase and frustrated by the approaching expiry of the Srimavo Shastri Act in October 1981 the Government of Sri Lanka instigated the racial orgy to force the Tamils out.

During the recent riots the Tamils of Indian Origin were brutally attacked for the first time. Looting and arson became a common spectacle. Fearing damage to life the Tamil families had to flee from their home. The planters refused to pay them their dues. Trains and busses transporting Tamils labourers were attacked. The Government of Sri Lanka remained a passive onlooker of the violent situation. It did not even open my refugee camps.

In 1980 the Government of Sri Lanka granted a wage increase of Rs. 70/- to all plantation workers; but the same was denied to Tamil plantation workers. In many plantations the Tamil workers were paid daily wages and were kept as causal labourers for years together with the connivance of Trade Unions. The rule of Law in Sri Lanka was that the plantation workers of Indian origin should be provided with work only for 26 days in a month. Later this was modified on financial grounds and an Act was passed by virtue of which a labourer of Indian origin was given work only for 108 days for six months. Thus the Tamil labourers were employed for 18 days a month. A part from such cruel and dreadful conditions of life they were denied pension benefits and gratuity. Moreover, the Tamil plantation workers were precluded from the scheme of providing lands to landless labourers. It is wrong to make an invidious distinction between Eelam Tamils and the Tamils of Indian Origin. Sinhalese know not any distinction and are out to destroy all Tamils in Sri Lanka.

When the Sri Lanka Government failed to provide help to the Tamils by setting up refugee camps the Eelam Tamilians opened refugee camps which served as transit camps during the process of repatriation to India. They also offered help to the Tamil plantation workers to migrate to Eelam area. Roughly 50,000 Tamil plantation workers of Indian origin have been given 2 acres of land each and financial help to start life afresh. There were many such settlements in Vavunia and in the suburban areas of Jaffna city. This gesture was very much resented by the Sinhala chauvinistic Government of Sri Lanka and it obstructed migration to Eelam area. The Eelam Tamils have also come forward to give higher education to the Tamils of Indian origin in the Jaffna University. Nearly one third of Jaffna University students are children of the Tamils of Indian origin."

8.4 This issue besides being one of the most visible symbols of discrimination was also important to the Indian Tamils since it concerned Tamils of Indian origin, who were settled in Sri Lanka for centuries, and after independence, found themselves suspended between the two countries. This problem continued to be raised by political parties in Tamil Nadu repeatedly and was one of the major irritants as far as our foreign policy towards Sri Lanka was concerned.

8.4.1 India's Foreign Policy Reports of the period indicate that this issue was an important consideration solution to which was being worked out on a continuous basis. Excerpts from the Annual Reports of the Ministry of External Affairs, which are reproduced below are self explanatory :-

Annual Report/M.E.A-1980-81

"Indo-Sri Lankan relations continued to be warm and cordial.......

India and Sri Lanka continued efforts to resolve the problem arising from stateless persons of Indian origin in Sri Lanka. Progress in this regard was somewhat slower than anticipated, on account of complex reasons. The two governments are in touch with each other with a view to expediting resolution of the problem."

Annual Report 1981-82

"The problem of stateless persons of Indian origin in Sri Lanka has been largely solved through the implementation of the 1964 and 1974 Repatriation Agreements. The Governments of India and Sri Lanka are in close touch in respect of the residual problem of statelessness. It is expected, that a comprehensive solution to the problem will be found on the basis of the voluntary choice of the persons concerned."


Growth of Tamil Chauvinism in India

9 A perceived common ethnic origin was not the only bond which cemented the ties between the Sri Lankan and Indian Tamils. A stronger bond was the constant urge of chauvinistic Tamil elements in both the countries for self determination. The demand for a separate Dravidian country was constantly propagated by the chauvinistic Tamil elements of both the countries who propounded and advocated theories based on pseudo-historical interpretations justifying a separate geographical identity for all Tamils. These jingoistic outpourings had a deep impact on the psyche of vulnerable Tamil youth. The fostering of this "Tamil psyche" led to the emergence of racially conscious socio-political chauvinist forces in India as well as Sri Lanka.

9.1 In India the Dravidian movement, in its recent form, can be said to have manifested itself with the ascendancy of a Tamil leader "Periyar" Ramaswamy Nayakar on the scene and the founding of Dravida Kazhagam (DK) in Tamil Nadu in 1944. The DK was a "Tamil only" party which opposed imposition of Aryan Brahminical rule on Tamils and propagation of Hindi. DK initially advocated formation of a separate Dravidian country which was contemplated to comprise the entire erstwhile Madras Presidency. In 1949, the DK split and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was founded by CN Annadurai. After the formation of Andhra Pradesh as a state, the DK temporarily abandoned the concept of Dravida Desam in its originally contemplated form and confined itself to removal of

(a) - Hindi as the Official language of India, and (b) - Brahmins as the dominant social class in Tamil Nadu.

9.1.1 Elaborating on the objectives of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagham (DMK), Shri M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and leader of the DMK, deposed before the Commission on 17th January, 1997. He stated :-

 "The DMK party was formed not in 1957 but in 1949. When the DMK Party departed from the DK party headed by Periyar, it was only a social organisation. Later also, it continued to be that. Only in 1956, after the Tiruchi Conference, it was decided to participate in the elections and serve the people politically. "

"The DK party and DMK both originally demanded Dravida Nadu, a separate State independent of the Indian Union. But in the year 1962, this demand was given up officially by the DMK party....."

9.2 The secessionist proclivities of Tamil chauvinists, however, did not abate. It was due to this emerging trend that, in 1963, the constitution of India had to be amended by its sixteenth Amendment which made it mandatory for those running for public office to take an oath for upholding the sovereignty and integrity of India. Since then, the efforts of regional separatist elements became covert.

9.3 After the 16th amendment of the Constitution of India, C.N.Annadura; the Dravida leader alongwith his followers, notably M.Karunanidhi and M.G.Ramachandran, continued to propagate Tamil aspirations within the constitutional framework of India. During the elections of 1967 and 1971, in Tamil Nadu, the DMK was elected defeating the Congress. The DMK re-asserted the precedence of Tamil sentiments over the other issues faced by the state. CN Annadurai became the Chief Minister of the State after elections; however, after he died in 1969, Shri M. Karunanidhi took over as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. During the period the DMK government was in power, the Central Government perceived their activities as prejudicial to the Indian Constitution and, in 1976, the DMK government was dismissed by the Centre for "violation of the constitution and breakdown of the administration."

9.4 The All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) which was a splinter group of the DMK formed by M.G. Ramachandran in 1972 came to power in 1977, was dismissed in 1980, but won the General elections of 1981 and returned to power uninterruptedly till the end of 1987 - the year when M.G. Ramachandran died. This party balanced Tamil interests in harmony with the policies of the Central Government and continuously maintained good relations with the Central Government.

9.5 Whereas the two parties - the DMK and AIADMK - which, between them, held power in the state for the period 1969 - 1987, continued to base their manifestoes on Tamil aspirations and fight for the regional demands within the constitutional framework of India, certain chauvinistic parties of the state notably the Dravida Kazhagam (DK) slowly transformed themselves into hard-liners. These parties, over the course of time, encouraged militancy amongst local youth and later, during the mid-eighties supported militant activities in the state.

10 In the wake of 1980s, the situation prevailing in Sri Lanka was delicate. Tamil militancy had gained ground in Sri Lanka. Some prominent Tamil militant leaders, notably, V. Pirabhakaran of the LTTE had started frequently visiting Tamil Nadu and staying there for considerable length of time. These militant groups had begun establishing bases in Tamil Nadu. The Sri Lankan Government's repeated crackdown on the Tamil militants and the frequent anti-Tamil riots had led to large number of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees fleeing the island to the proximate Eastern coast of Tamil Nadu.

10.1 On the Indian front, there was an upsurge in sympathy for the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, especially after the ethnic riots of 1981. The climate created by Tamil chauvinist groups in the state of Tamil Nadu had become conducive for Sri Lankan Tamil militants to infiltrate and carry out their activities from India. The subsequent growth of Tamil Chauvinist groups in Tamil Nadu many of which became active collaborators of the Sri Lankan Tamil terrorists owes its impetus to the developments of this period.

10.2 The problem of the Stateless Tamil plantation labourers of Indian origin was dragging on. The process of settlement of this issue was slow and painful. This had added to the popular perception in Tamil Nadu that the Sri Lankan Government, under the influence of the Sinhala majority, was utterly insensitive to the plight of the Tamil ethnic minorities of the island.

10.3 Opening up of the strategic Trincomalee Harbour located in Eastern Sri Lanka by the Sri Lankan Government to outside powers and visible signs of converting it into a Naval base had serious security implications for India. Added to this were the attempts being made by the Sri Lankan Government to allot land near the Trincomalee harbour to foreign Oil Companies for oil exploration in the available oil farms. There were also moves at this time to give broadcasting facilities to foreign companies at Trincomallee by allowing them to set up their transmitters and communication equipment. These factors, which continued to be of matters of serious concern to the Political executive of India as well as the Foreign Policy framers, had to be taken into account in the days to come. The decisions taken by the Indian Government particularly Shri Rajiv Gandhi, become relevant while tracing the sequence of events; these have been separately discussed.

10.4 This background deals only with the origins of the circumstances which led to an alarming growth of Sri Lankan Tamil militancy in India ultimately culminating in the assassination of one of the most popular political leaders of this country.

10.5 The parameters under consideration here have been confined to the first part of the first term of reference of this Commission alone i.e. the sequence of events leading to the assassination; The Commission while inquiring into the remaining parts of the terms of reference, namely, the second part of the first term i.e. all facts and circumstances relating to the assassination, and the second part, i.e. the conspiracy, will examine the role of individual(s) and / or forces , if any, which goes beyond the role of Sri Lankan Tamil militants.

back to background index

Mail Us up- truth is a pathless land - Home