....And so Nedumaran did not come

Babe Politics and fear of Death!!!

Both TamilNadu politico P.Nedumaran and destructive tsunami waves were rumoured to be threatening to enter Lankan shores on Wednesday. Yet, neither of them came, much to the relief of the Sri Lankan government perhaps. Unlike the tsunami, Nedumaran has at not time succeeded in reaching the Lankan coast. In April 1983 Nedumaran started a journey from Madurai vowing to enter Jaffna.

When he reached Rameswaram, he was stopped by the police and sent back. It is of course best not to compare Nedumaran with the tsunami for the latter has the potential to devastate while the attempt of the former is more a joke than anything else.

P.Nedumaran, a strong campaigner for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is the leader of the Tamil Nationalist Movement in Tamil Nadu. He was arrested by the Tamil Nadu police under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) for the pro-LTTE speeches he made publicly in 2002. Jayalalitha was the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu then.

The latest drama started when Nedumaran’s ‘Coordinating Group of the Tamil Eelam Liberation Stalwarts’ in Tamil Nadu was denied permission by the Indian Central government to consign aid and medication worth over 10 million Indian rupees to Jaffna through the International Committee of the Red Cross. The goods were collected by the said group from the public.

Nedumaran declared that he and his followers would enter Jaffna crossing the Palk Strait with food and aid in boats on September 12. He made this proclamation at a conference held in Viluppuram, Tamilnadu. The Indian government was severely criticized at the conference for “its indifference toward the starving Tamils in Jaffna”.

In the meantime, the Sri Lankan government said that anyone who entered the island’s waters unlawfully would be apprehended. In spite of the warning, Nedumaran went ahead with his plans.

Two campaign groups were sent from Trichi to Nagapattinam and Mathurai to Rameshwaram on September 7 to mobilise the public in support of the endeavour. On September 11 evening, Nedumaran and his supporters numbering 500, reached Rameshwaram and asked the fisher folk to take them to Lankan shores in their boats.
Not surprisingly, they refused . (Why should the marginalised fisher folk risk their lives for the sake of P.Nedumaran’s political stunt?).

P.Nedumaran knew it fullwell that he would be stopped at some point and prevented from crossing over the shallow waters of the Palk Strait. Therefore, the heroics he attempted to engage in amounts to nothing more than mere political drama.

However one needs to raise two important questions. Despite the government’s denial and false propaganda that there is no scarcity for food and other items in Jaffna, I have heard people from the peninsula saying that there was a shortage of essential goods and that even the available items were sold at unacceptably high prices.

Besides, everybody in this country knows that the government is desperately looking for foreign aid in order to address the humanitarian needs arising from the conflict situation.

Therefore, why didn’t the government persuade its Indian counterpart to grant approval for the aid items to be sent to Jaffna? It could have been done in the proper manner.
If the Indian government was suspicious, it could have demanded of Nedumaran’s committee that the consignment should be subject to thorough scrutiny to ensure that nothing harmful was to be sent under the pretext of sending aid.

On the other hand, Nedumaran should have known to find alternative means to address the humanitarian crisis of the people living in war-torn areas of Sri Lanka, rather than delivering provocative statements. If it is true that he is concerned about the ‘suffering Tamils’ and not trying to score on the plight of the people, why is he concerned only about Jaffna? What about the thousands of internally displaced refugees in the East? Why isn’t he asking the LTTE which he supports fervently to engage in negotiations with the government in order to put an end to these people’s predicament?