Tamil Tribune

India, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and Sri Lankan Navy Killing Tamilnadu Fishermen

(Step Children of Bharat Matha)

Usha Ramanathan

TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2011 (ID. 2011-12-01)
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AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

PMK - Paattaali Makkal Katchi (Pattali Makkal Katchi)

Sri Lankan Navy has attacked Tamil Nadu fishermen hundreds of times during the past quarter of a century. It had killed scores of fishermen and injured more. Yet, Indian government has not done anything effective to stop it [Reference 3]. India has not even condemned Sri Lanka for fear of "alienating it". There is a feeling among some Tamils that Tamil Nadu fishermen are getting a step-motherly treatment from India, when compared to how India protects its citizens in the north. Former PMK leader Professor Theeran said in August 1998, "When 20 Kashmiri Pandits were killed by the Pakistani army, India immediately retaliated by killing several Pakistani soldiers. Why was the same yardstick not used in protecting Tamil Nadu fishermen?" When lesser-known politicians like Professor Theeran point out India's step-motherly actions, they are dismissed as anti-Indian.

Now, in October 2011, a top, mainline political leader whose allegiance to India is solid has pointed out the different treatment Tamilnadu fishermen are getting from the Indian government. This is what Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and head of AIADMK has told Indian Foreign Secretary: ""Incidents of apprehension and assault of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu by the Sri Lankan navy should be viewed not as an assault on Tamil fishermen, but as an assault on Indian citizens and should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to firing across the borders of India by neighbours such as Pakistan and China" (Times of India (online edition), October 10, 2011).

Then Chief Minister wrote to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh reiterating the point. She wrote, "The harassment of Tamil fishermen should be viewed as an act of provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka, similar to acts of firing across the border by Pakistan and China". (IBNLive.com; October 12, 2011)

In her address to the National Development Council on October 22, 2011, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa again brought the discriminatory treatment of Tamilnadu fishermen. She said, “Even attacks on fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu in the Palk Bay by Sri Lanka are not looked upon as acts of aggression against India. This issue is merely looked upon as a minor problem concerning Tamil Nadu alone. The Centre seems to think that the lives of fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu are worthless and do not call for any potent action.” (The Hindu (online edition); October 22, 2011)

India acts decisively whenever there is a firing across its land borders in the north, it has also acted decisively when Pakistan shot and killed a north Indian fisherman in the sea (The Hindu, February 17, 2006). India warned Pakistan sternly and Pakistan got the message. There were no more shootings in the northern seas. Total Pakistani killings over the decades is one, compared to scores of Tamilnadu fishermen killed by Sri Lankan Navy*. Instead of warning Sri Lanka against shooting and attacking our fishermen, Indian government officials downplay the hundreds of deaths of Tamil Nadu fishermen [Reference 1] and also "justify" the shootings [Reference 2]. I hope that Indian Government would listen to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa's request and treat attacks of Tamil Nadu fishermen as acts of "provocation and aggression against India by Sri Lanka". (* - a discussion of the number of fishermen killed may be found in Reference 4.)

May be, in the eyes of Hindi-dominated Indian Government, Tamil Nadu fishermen are expendable third class citizens compared to the first-class citizens of Hindi states. Are Tamil Nadu fishermen merely the stepchildren of Bharat Matha (Mother India)?

[Different spellings of Tamil names: Paattaali Makkal Katchi - Pattali Makkal Katchi]


1. Indian Parliament Debates Sri Lankan Navy Killing Tamilnadu Fishermen (Half Truths and Cover Ups) (by Usha Ramanathan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 2011 (22 KB) (tn)

2. Indian Government "Justifies" Sri Lankan Navy Killing Tamil Nadu Fishermen (by Usha Ramanathan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2008 (11 KB) (tn)

3. Killings of Tamil Nadu Fishermen in the Sea

4. How Many Indian Tamilnadu Fishermen did Sri Lankan Navy Kill? (by Usha Ramanathan), TAMIL TRIBUNE, June 2009 (6 KB) (tn)

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