Counterpoint

Thoughts and Translations on Politics, Language, and Society in South India

A Conversation with J. Gowthama Sanna, VCK Propaganda Secretary

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To contextualize the following conversation with VCK Propaganda Secretary J. Gowthama Sanna, below is a brief introduction to the history and political formation of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), or Liberation Panthers Party:

In 1982, the Bharathiya Dalit Panthers, or Dalit Panthers of India, inaugurated a new branch in Madurai, Tamil Nadu. Under the leadership of a M. Malaichamy, a twenty-seven-year-old Dalit activist and law student, the Dalit Panthers Iyakkam (movement) mobilized Dalit communities across Madurai District, drawing early support from a broad cross-section of the state’s Schedule Castes, including its three largest groups: Pallars, Paraiyars, and Arundhathiyars. In marked contrast to its counterparts in Maharashtra, the Tamil Nadu DPI espoused a politics of legal advocacy, submitting legal petitions through formal institutional channels that lobbied state and political authorities to fulfill their legal obligations to Dalit citizens. Considered collectively, these petitions pressed authorities to rectify specific abuses in the reservations system, ensure equitable access to opportunities for economic development, eradicate quotidian practices of untouchability and workplace discrimination, and safeguard the physical security of Dalit communities. The preserved record signals the failure of this early program and DPI activism waned as the 1980s progress until its activities reached a standstill following the sudden death of Malaichamy on September 14, 1989.

Then, on January 21, 1990, a handful of early DPI supporters gathered at New College House in central Madurai to formally appoint Thol. Thirumaavalavan, a young Dalit lawyer who had recently relocated to Madurai, as the new DPI chairman. Upon assuming leadership, Thirumaavalavan soon rechristened the movement as the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal, or Liberation Panthers, but the movement continued to operate under both names concomitantly. Although Thirumaavalavan may have been newcomer to Madurai as well as to Dalit activism, he was already an experienced political organizer. Thirumaavalavan had earlier collaborated with the DMK student wing while completing his Juris Doctor (J.D.) at Madras Law College where he developed a reputation for bellicose oratory and spearheaded impassioned student protests supporting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as well as their demand for a separate, autonomous Tamil homeland in neighboring Sri Lanka.

Across the 1990s, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal developed a reputation for robust Dalit advocacy, in part through a paradigm of unconventional politics. From its inaugural blockade of Madurai Railway Junction on February 12, 1994, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal deployed a brand of corporeal politics that executed strategic disruptions of the public sphere. Blockading arterial roads, prominent railway junctions, and even an attempted obstruction of the tarmac at the Madurai International Airport, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal captured media attention through provocative occupations of public space that broadcast its presence across the state. By the mid-1990s, the movement spread to the state’s northern districts where it established itself as a counterweight to the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a political party representing Tamil Nadu’s largest backwards caste, the Vanniyars, which routinely found itself at loggerheads with the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal and its burgeoning Dalit support base. As the 1990s progressed, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal established itself as Tamil Nadu’s largest Dalit organization with a particularly strong following among youth who were inspired by its pugnacious rhetoric and militant slogans, including ‘adanga maru, attumeeru, thimirieezhu, thiruppi adi,’ or ‘refuse to be restrained, transgress all barriers, rise up, and hit back!’ Audio cassettes and wall posters often preceding the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal’s organizational presence within Dalit colonies, which organized ceremonies to hoist the movement flag and invited Thirumaavalavan and his associates to address their new branches, which they referred to as mughaankal, or military encampments.

As the 1990s progressed, state authorities increasingly regarded the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal as a radical outfit, sometimes likening it to a terrorism organization, and strong state pressure induced movement organizers to reappraise their strategy. By the late 1990s, authorities had incarcerated more than one hundred VCK organizers under articles of national security legislation generally reserved for underground militants and habitual criminal offenders. Many of these individuals were arrested under the National Security Act and what is colloquially referred to as the Goondas Act, legal provisions that permitted the preventive detention of movement organizers for a period of up to twelve months. Confronted with an existential crisis, movement organizers convened executive committee meetings in Perambalur and then Villupuram in 1998 to discuss formal integration within electoral democracy, allegedly to convert the upwelling of Dalit support into a political force and legitimize its protest in the eyes of state authorities. Then, in 1999, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal formally entered electoral politics and contested the 1999 Lok Sabha Election alongside the Tamil Maanila Congress, or Tamil State Congress Party, in its first parliamentary bid.

In the conversation below, J. Gowthama Sanna, VCK Propaganda Secretary, discusses a range of issues related to the formation, development, and present politics of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal, which today is known as the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), or Liberation Panthers Party. To open, Sanna shares his perspective on the circumstances surrounding the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal’s expansion across the 1990s and, in particular, the escalation of tensions with the PMK and its core constituents the locally-dominant Vanniyars, which is the largest Most Backwards Class (MBC) community in Tamil Nadu. As the conversation proceeds, Sanna addresses a breadth of issues including the current salience of Dalit identity as well as particular challenges posed by direct electoral participation. As the interview concludes, Sanna expounds upon an interpretation of democratic politics, drawing into question the limitations of the deliberative model of democratic politics espoused by many democratic theorists today. Rather, Sanna foregrounds the ineradicable presence of conflict as a constitutive aspect of modern democratic politics, a viewpoint that echoes Chantal Mouffe’s theory of radical democracy. Without endorsing, critiquing, or responding to specific points raised by Sanna, I present our conversation in its entirely, allowing him to proffer and foreground his views on a breadth of topics connected to democratic politics today.

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A conversation with J. Gowthama Sanna, VCK Propaganda Secretary. Personal interview conducted by Michael Collins, PhD Candidate, University of Pennsylvania.

18 February 2014

(The views expressed herein are solely those of the interviewee and should not be taken to imply those of the author)

MC: My first question pertains to the 1990s. How do you explain the intensification of police activity against the VCK as the decade progressed? Was this in part due to the death of Rajiv Gandhi and the growth of terrorism discourse in India? Or, perhaps, was it connected the budding relationship between DMK and PMK?

GS: The 1990s was a critical decade for Dalit activism and, in particular, for the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal. At the time, we operated as a social movement that spearheaded an electoral boycott as a key plank of our early program. Our chairman Thirumaavalavan and key movement organizers travelled across Tamil Nadu to promulgate this boycott, encouraging our Dalit community to withhold our ballots. This was among our chief early objectives. We felt that when you forfeit your political morality when you cast a vote. By this, we meant to imply that our electoral system was corrupt. We felt that the act of voting would convey an implicit acceptance of the electoral system. At the time, our people were angry about myriad forms of inequality, but they didn’t have the courage to confront the non-Dalits directly. Successive Dravidian governments only compounded our problems by ignoring our demands; they denied all requests raised by Dalit movements.

Following Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s death in 1956, Rao Bahadur N. Sivaraj emerged as an all India leader. He was a colleague of Dr. Ambedkar. In 1964, his death created a vacuum for Dalit politics that persisted until the 1990s. Although there were so many leaders, local Dalit leaders, they lacked the courage to raise a resolute voice that pressed our demands before the government. This was a major problem. The Dravidian parties considered these movements as subordinate forces to the DMK or AIADMK. These Dalit voices failed to even register as sound in their ears. The Dravidian parties as well as Congress and even the Communists were unconcerned about Dalits. They neither concerned themselves with untouchability and our community’s poverty nor did they consider our right to live, our land rights, or even our voting rights. This situation persisted through the 1970s and 1980s.

The 1990s provided fertile terrain for the emergence of a radical movement. Amidst this early political vacuum, some Dalit youth emerged as leaders. Thirumaavalavan, our chairman, was among those who emerged during this period. In the 1990s, he first raised the slogan, ‘adanga maru, attumiiru, thimiriyeezhu, thiruppi adi!’, or ‘refuse to be restrained, transgress barriers, rise up and hit back!’ It was his first slogan and it ignited a fire within Dalits, especially the youth. These words had a resounding impact; they mobilized our people and generated a strong impact in the Madurai area that later spread to other parts of Tamil Nadu. At the beginning, the Tamil Nadu government and Dravidian parties observed his emergence keenly from a distance. In that early phase, our movement did not concern them. They anticipated that a small organization such as ours would soon vanish.

By 1995, our movement was developing into a mass movement and had expanded from Madurai District to Cuddalore and nearby areas in northern Tamil Nadu. Prior to our emergence in the state’s northern districts, Dr. Ramadoss instigated problems in Dalit settlements as he spearheaded a protest to acquire a separate reservation quota for his Vanniyar community. With this aim, he instigated many atrocities against Dalits. This period, namely from 1987 until 1993, was a dire situation for Dalits residing in those areas. More than ten thousand Dalit huts were burned. So many people were beaten and some were even murdered. You might ask, how was this related to protests over a separate reservation quota for Vanniyars? Dr. Ramadoss felt that his community was silent by nature; they worked hard to sustain their livelihoods. He sought to heighten communal tensions in order to provoke the ire of his people, and, with this aim, he re-presented Dalits as the enemies of Vanniyars. He sparked and then directed the jealousy of his people against the Dalits, who already enjoyed reservation benefits. In those days, the Dalits were defenseless and government machinery acted as silent spectator, watching from the sidelines as premeditated atrocities continued to occur. This generated a political vacuum across the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Thirumaavalavan and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal entered and began to fill this vacuum in the region.

MC: Why did Viduthalai Chiruthaigal only spread to the northern districts in the mid-1990s? Was this in response to specific caste atrocities? Am I correct to interpret that the movement spread in the wake of particular atrocities. For example, it was only after police gunfire killed John Thomas and Ezhumalai near Chengalpattu that VCK surface in the area.

GS: Yes, that area had only minimal connections with the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal when John Thomas and Ezhumalai were killed by police gunfire. At that time, local NGOs organized and spearheaded the Panchami Land Movement in and around Chengalpattu, raising slogans that demanded the recovery of panchami lands. The Panchami Land Movement was confined to that area. The police shooting that killed John Thomas and Ezhumalai was a state atrocity. I do not think that it was premeditated and intended to target activists of the Panchami Land Movement, but, regardless, it happened. Following that incident, Dalits sensed a need for a strong political movement. In response, the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal grew in prominence in and around Chengalpattu and Kanchipuram. The people sought political support and, again, the VCK filled the vacuum.

A similar process occurred in Cuddalore District. Due to PMK atrocities, that is, Vanniyar atrocities against Dalits, the VCK took root in the district with an intent to safeguard the Dalit people. It was not only to protect the Dalits, but also to retaliate in the face of violence. The movement stood firm against Vanniyar atrocities. There were so many atrocities at that time; too many to be recorded. The Dalit people sought protection from the movement to safeguard their interests and ensure their security; this is a primary reason why people joined our movement. Foremost, you must understand that Vanniyar assertion created a vacuum in the northern districts that the VCK soon filled.

MC: Why was inter-caste violence particularly high in the mid- to late-1990s?

GS: Following 1996, the first round of local body elections occurred in Tamil Nadu. That was the main reason. At the time, many local Dalit leaders emerged who wanted to hold power in local government. They contested local body elections in many places. At first, the VCK maintained its adherence to electoral boycotts, but, even so, its local leaders contested panchayat elections in many areas without seeking the consent. In some areas, they triumphed and won election as presidents and council members in local panchayats. I presume that you are familiar with Melavalavu in Madurai District, where Kallar assailants killed seven Dalits in 1997. The VCK grew stronger following the murder because of local body elections. When that atrocity occurred, it revealed that Dalits required the backing of a strong political movement to capture power in local governmental bodies. In the absence of a strong movement, our people enduring severe intimidation and attacks simply for contesting elections. The Dalit people sensed a need for a militant and radical movement to advance their concerns and safeguard their community. According to me, this desire for a strong political movement drew them towards the VCK and contributed to its emergence.

As the VCK acquired strength through local body elections its emergence ran counter to the interests of the PMK, DMK or other existing parties. These parties decided to thwart the growth of our movement; they did not want us to enter assembly or parliamentary elections. This was the main agenda of the government. They instigated more violence and exerted strong pressure on our movement. That is the reason why so many of our cadre were booked under the Goondas Act and the National Security Act. At the time, police and intelligence agencies surveilled and incarcerated our leaders. Collectively, the PMK’s political formation, introduction of local body elections, and state repression pressed our movement towards the electoral path. The authorities were concerned that our outlook would become more radical if we continued to operated outside of electoral politics.

MC: Can you explain the connection between local body elections and increased caste atrocities?

GS: Dalit people were neither empowered in the national parliament (Lok Sabha) nor the state legislative assembly. Between Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry there are 40 Lok Sabha seats. It was not possible for our movement to win a seat in parliamentary or assembly elections. But, there was an abundance of elected seats in local government. In Tamil Nadu, there are more than 49,000 villages and 1079 small towns. Stated differently, there are more than 90,000 village hamlets for Dalits and Non-Dalits, because villages are always divided into two: the oor, a non-Dalit settlement, and cheri, the Dalit settlement. This social geography exists across Tamil Nadu and all over India.

However, in regards to political geography, there are 12,524 village panchayats, 385 panchayat unions, 32 district panchayats, 832 towns, and 12 corporations, in rural and urban local body administrations where there are presidents, ward members, district councilors, block councilors, and, in all, more than 50,000 posts. Dalits came forward to contest and fill these posts, but non-Dalits found this intolerable; they felt that if the Dalits fill these positions then they will need to share the political dais alongside them. They could not palate this social transformation.

MC: How do you explain the correlation between an ostensible increase in caste related violence and Dalit participation in local body elections?

GS: In earlier decades, local body elections were closed and Dalits could not assume such posts, but, also, they often lacked political awareness. After the VCK entered politics, Dalits began to gain political awareness and, in the process, developed a thirst for political power. This is why so many Dalits came forward to contest elections. This emerging political consciousness among Dalits concerned the the Dravidian parties; they grew wary and could not palate such a change. Due to this, the government hurled so many atrocities against Dalit activists and movements. But, we can also party attribute this to the bias of government officials who generally hail from oppressor communities. It is a common mindset, it is a caste mindset, all the caste Hindus came with a common mindset and promoted such repressive activities; they promoted this kind of social view.

If you recall, in the 1990s, the AIADMK came into power following a period of DMK rule. Initially, AIADMK strength came primarily from southern districts. Where most Dalit officer-bearers were elected in that area, the upper castes would not even allow Dalits to come and sit before them; they could not tolerate this. Previously, Dalit people had always stood before them with their hands clasped. This was the custom, but once a Dalit was elected president he now stood before the Kallars and other high caste people. As the president he had the right to sit before them and, moreover, before the entire village. But those with a casteist mindset could not digest these social changes. That is why they instigated problems and fanned caste tensions. This in turn lured the government machinery in force, which further compounded caste atrocities.

MC: In 1999, the VCK entered electoral democracy. Reflecting on the past fifteen years, what landmark gains has the VCK made through electoral politics? What has the VCK achieved as a political party that it could not have accomplished as a social movement?

GS: The VCK achieved many things as a social movement. First of all, it gave a voice to Dalits. That is the main achievement. Before VCK, there were other small movements and leaders, but they did not provide a strong voice for Dalits. This was their major shortcoming. The Dalit people had concluded, ‘This is our level in society and we cannot progress beyond it.’ Early Dalit movements and their leaders primary functioned by supporting existing political parties; they never conceived of alternative approaches. But, after the VCK’s emergence as a mass movement, it began creating problems. What kind of problems? First of all, we were not operating in a manner that supported the Dravidian parties. Previously, how did Dalits supporting them? They supported them through their right to vote. That was their primary mode of support. Across the northern districts, the VCK’s electoral boycott influenced our people; they began to question the Dravidian parties critically. In particular, Dalit youth endorsed our boycotts and many Dalits ceased to cast ballots for Dravidian parties. The emergence of VCK severed prevailing ties between Dalits and Dravidian parties. This was a critical achievement.

But, once our people had disconnected themselves from these parties, they were isolated. This isolation created a vacuum and presented them with only one option: they should come forward to accept DPI as a political party. But, how long could we operate in this vacuum? After several years, VCK rethought and redesigned its strategy following local body elections. It was not only state terrorism, which treated the DPI or VCK as if it were a terrorist movement, that pressed us toward the electoral path. We were a radical movement seeking social and political democracy. In our initial phase, movement leaders believe that extra-electoral politics provided the best avenue to generate political awareness among the oppressed people. Further, we anticipated that this strategy would draw the attention of government authorities to the voices of our people. Instead, the government machinery reacted violently. Then, our movement came to realize that electoral politics could also be used to promote political awareness among our people. With this belief, we entered electoral politics. But, returning to your question, our foremost achievement has been our ability to awaken the Dalits and provide them with clarity that our movement was different than the Dravidian parties. This is among our primary achievements. Moreover, our movement generated a profound political affect.

MC: But, has this effect spread among all Dalits in Tamil Nadu?

GS: No. I attribute this to the lingering impact of the Dravidian movement. Compare our present situation with the situation fifteen years before. The VCK has had an immense impact on Dalits and made tremendous achievements in this area.

MC: You are using the term ‘Dalit’. Was it only after the Ambedkar centenary that the term gained prominence in Tamil Nadu? In recent years, has the coherence of this term not declined? I can think of numerous movements that are not mobilizing under a Dalit banner, but rather as sub-caste organizations. Today, is the ‘Dalit’ identity losing its salience?

GS: First of all, the Dalit identity did not emerge in Tamil Nadu strictly through the Ambedkar Centenary. The Dalit identity existed well before the centenary celebrations and, in fact, it dates back to Pandit Iyothee Thass; from 1872, I believe. Although a different term may have been used, the identity was intact. For example, the depressed class identity emerged from 1920s; M.C. Raja was the first pan-Indian leader, in 1920s, maybe 1927. So, a depressed class identity was already present in Indian politics. After the emergence of Dr. Ambedkar, the people formerly known as untouchables developed a cogent identity across India.

I disagree that a Dalit identity emerged only from the 1990s. In fact, it was only in the 1990s that non-Dalit thinkers came forward and began to use this term. There were many reasons for this. Non-Dalit thinkers from radical as well as traditional left movements neither recognize Dalit movements as radical nor progressive. Because they had not read Ambedkar’s writing, they interpreted Dalit movements strictly as caste movements because they had not read Dr. Ambedkar’s writing. This was a shortcoming of their own.

Moreover, they did not accept Ambedkar as a radical leader. But, following the fall of the Soviet Union, this perspective began to change as non-Dalit thinkers reconsidered the leftist approach; they reconsidered Marx in light of ideas coming out of the west. From the late 1990s, the theory of post-modernism began to influence non-Dalit writers, most of whom were Marxists, or rather ex-Marxists, and they began to read Ambedkar. Only then, non-Dalit thinkers began to acknowledge Dalit movements from the 1990s. Dalit intellectuals do not share this perspective. Frankly, I do not share their views. The Ambedkar centenary movement was a trigger moment after a long period of silence. The Ambedkar centenary shattered the silence and precipitated a resurgence of Dalit politics. The Dalit identity formed a political identity whereas sub-caste acted as a cultural identity.

MC: Is the term ‘Dalit’ losing its salience today? Some Dalit intellectuals argue that the ‘Dalit’ identity has been appropriated and monopolized by particular sub-castes in Tamil Nadu. What is your perspective on how the ‘Dalit’ identity is used today?

GS: In the 1990s, the term ‘Dalit’ was considered a common word for our people. Still today, Dalit is a common word. Wherever you go in India, Scheduled Caste people are called as Dalits. They, themselves, identify as Dalits. But, within any given geography, they cannot escape local caste identities. Local identities were created within a local social context and convey a linguistic custom particular to that specific order. As a political term, ‘Dalit’ cannot eradicate localized differences among these subgroups. So, we should interpret the Dalit identity as a political identity; it is not a cultural identity. A sub-caste identity is a cultural identity. This is the main distinction between the two. Non-Dalit thinkers who level the charge that your question raises are themselves unable to comprehend this difference. Sub-caste is a cultural identity whereas Dalit is a political identity. Once non-Dalit thinkers and their followers come to share this perspective, they will step forward to promote ‘Dalit’ as a political identity.

For example, if you visit a village, you will find some Arunthathiyars, some Paraiyars, some Pallars, some Kallars and numerous other communities. In that area you will meet Pallars, Paraiyars and Arunthathiyars. We may consider them Dalits, but the Kallars will not call them as Dalits. They will only call them by their sub-caste identity. This is our cultural topography; we cannot escape it; neither from the Dalit side nor the non-Dalit side. Non-Dalits attempt to divide us on the basis of sub-caste differences in order to preserve their own interests; to preserve their own identity. When Kallars or Thevars raise their hands in unison to promote their identity as a Thevar, the Pallars promote their identity as a Devendra mirroring the Thevar identity; these kinds of political gimmicks exist among lower castes. In contrast, we perceive ‘Dalit’ as a political identity and sub-castes as cultural identities.

MC: Now, I want to discuss coalition politics. If you contest two parliamentary constituencies, then your party cadre and supporters are unable to support a VCK candidate in the other 38 constituencies across Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry. In effect, their electoral role is limited to canvassing votes for coalitions partners and the leading Dravidian party. How do you maintain cadre morale in constituencies where your candidates do not contest? How does the VCK continue to develop and expand its party organization when its infrastructure is routinely used to support Dravidian parties?

GS: Prior to the VCK’s emergence, Dalit movements lacked bargaining power because they never organized our people as a political force. That was a critical shortcoming. If the Dravidian parties allocated seats to Dalit leaders, it was only under their party symbol and certainly not under a separate electoral symbol. Prior to VCK, if I want to participate in elections I may be asked to stand under the [AIADMK’s] ‘two leaves’ or the [DMK’s] ‘rising sun’. There was no other option. For the first time, VCK contested under its own symbol during the 2009 Lok Sabha Election. We contested in Chidambaram and Villupuram under the ‘star’ symbol. This is a profound change. After forty years it signals a major change. In previous elections Dravidian parties and national parties stood before the Dalits as their so-called representatives and solicited their votes for themselves only. Now, the scenario has changed. They solicit Dalit votes in the name of the VCK coalition. Also, they request that their supporters vote for our party. Nevertheless, there are 40 parliamentary seats and 234 assembly seats in Tamil Nadu. In 2009, we contested only two parliamentary seats.

MC: Yes, how do you continue to develop your party organization when your cadre is only canvassing votes for Dravidian parties?

GS: Yes, this is a very important question. If we contest in only two seats, then what about the other constituencies? Our party is among the largest in Tamil Nadu as well as the largest Dalit movement. By membership, we are the forth-largest party in the state. We have a 7-10% vote bank in Tamil Nadu.

MC: How have you measured this?

GS: We conducted a membership drive and currently have 45 lakh members in our party. There are 5 crore voters Tamil Nadu. If you want to capture power, if you want to set up a government, you need only one crore votes. If we control one crore votes, we may be CM of Tamil Nadu. Just 1 or 1.5 crore votes is required. In the 2009 elections, the DMK received only 1.5 crore votes; the AIADMK received 1.78 crore votes. These are coalition tallies, not simply votes for individual parties. So, even without a coalition, controlling one crore votes could determine the next Chief Minister, it could determine the ruling party.

In our state the largest parties control only 1 to 1.5 crore votes on their own. Their voting percentage is only 25-30%. Our party has 45 lakh members. You can calculate the type of impact that this can generate. We believe that we have a 7-10% vote bank in Tamil Nadu. Despite this, the DMK only allotted us two seats in the previous parliamentary election (2009). Although the seats may be limited in quantity, this kind of electoral participation gives political and emotive strength to our movement when we contest local body elections. We prioritize local body elections and then assembly elections.

MC: Does VCK primarily focus on local body elections? Has the party experienced much success in local body elections? What support does the coalition partner provide? Are local body elections generally fought independently?

GS: Yes, during the 2011 local body election we contested without a coalition, our cadre stood and propagated with their own legs and means. Across the state our cadre waged a political struggle for their recognition. As a result, they won numerous posts. Our performance transmitted a vibrant awareness and instilled confidence within Dalits as well as other political minorities. Without a coalition, we cannot win seats in the assembly election. So, under political pressure, we will contest two seats only. But, frankly, two seats are insufficient for us. But, your question is clear and reasonable. This is not the proper way to further develop our party.

MC: For example, let us take Cuddalore District. The VCK has a very strong presence in Cuddalore; without a doubt, the party can impact electoral outcomes in the district. But, it is a common constituency and the DMK and AIADMK will not allot Cuddalore to the VCK. So, while remaining in Dravidian coalitions, you will never be able to field your own candidates in parliamentary elections in what may very well be your strongest district. After canvasing votes for one Dravidian party after another in subsequent elections, do you think your cadre will begin to lose their morale? Would contesting one election independently to prove your vote bank be a good idea? Is there any talk within the party of contesting independently?[1]

GS: You see, the VCK is not merely present in a handful of districts as is often propagated by the caste media. Rather, the VCK is a statewide party with a strong base from Madras to Kanyakumari and with more than twenty thousand mugaam, or local branches.[2] In the 2009 Lok Sabha Election, we lost the Villupuram seat by a margin of 1,500 votes despite our cadre campaigning vigorously across the constituency. But, in other parts, they did not work with the same intensity. This is partly because allied-party candidates already possessed strong contacts among their people. They only requested our support to canvass Dalit votes. That is one point. Additionally, whether we are speaking about DMK, AIADMK, or even other coalition partners, these parties do not want to recognize our people as a political force within any district. Once they recognize us, they must continue to recognize us in the future. This is the problem of our relationship with non-Dalit movements. Amidst strong political pressure, the only way to survive in electoral politics is through demonstrating our vote-bank. That is why our cadre canvassed vigorously under duress in other areas. Based on your question, I have a new light on this.

MC: If we consider early VCK leadership, most leaders came out of government jobs or worked as advocates and social organizers. There were no business tycoons among the party’s early leaders. Indian democracy, like many other democracies, is notorious for very expensive elections.

GS: Yes.

MC: From my impression, the 2009 Lok Sabha Election demonstrates the extent to which the VCK recognized ‘money power’ as a critical factor in elections. The party’s initial candidate in Villupuram, S.P. Velayutham, was not even a VCK member prior to being selected as the party’s candidate. Following the land-scam charges against Velayutham, the party then nominated K. Swamidurai, a retired high court judge, as its candidate in Villupuram. Again, Swamidurai was not a VCK party member; in fact, I am told that he was a known DMK sympathizer. It seems as if these individuals were nominated as candidates due to their financial resources, in the case of the former, or political connections, in the case of the latter. How does a small party such as VCK compete in such an expensive electoral system?

GS: Yes, we understand the difficulties of facing elections in this political environment from firsthand experience. Our democracy is very expensive. Indian democracy is exceedingly expensive. Because of this, we are only able to contest elections through a joint coalition because money is a critical factor during elections. You provided some examples regarding the previous Lok Sabha Elections (2009). At that time, I believe in 2009, the election was crucial for us and we did not have money. This is a small party, we have a lot of people behind us, but we lack sufficient funds. This is the main problem. Therefore, we depend on Dravidian parties, they have money because they have been in power, they have ruled; they possess wider local networks and stronger economic foundations. We enter Dravidian coalitions due to this financial dependence.

You mentioned Velayutham and Swamidurai; both were very wealthy. But, this is the fate of our party; it’s a kind of destiny. Most of our movement leaders are former government servants or advocates, very few are involved in business. Even among the handful of businessmen supporting our party, they are not rich; their income is comparatively moderate. As government servants, they secure their posts through reservations and they subsist on modest incomes. They are not wealthy; they are lower middle-class people. The advocates are middle-class, maybe even upper middle-class people. Money is the main problem. We require external financial support when contesting elections. In fact, we depend upon this support and this is the reason we will not contest each electoral constituencies during the upcoming parliamentary elections. At present, we are dependent upon coalition partners; that is the main problem. In 2009, we selected our candidates under intense political and economic pressure. And, even though Swamidurai contested, he was defeated by the slimmest of margins.

MC: When I speak to people about Thirumaavalavan they often share two points of praise. They tend to note his capacity for oratory, but also acknowledge that he is a simple man. Common people still feel that they can relate to him. He’s not wearing freshly pressed vestis, silk shirts, and golden jewelry. The VCK dresses as advocates and have fostered a different political culture. Was it a problem that Velayutham and Swamidurai did not fit this mold?

GS: Yeah.

MC: I understand that money is a critical factor in shaping electoral outcomes. You can elevate your principles, but if you don’t win elections the people will not continue to support you.

GS: We have very clear principles, but, speaking practically, principles do not always sell in such an expensive electoral system.

MC: In addition to money supplied by the coalition partner, I have been told that individual candidates are expected to front anywhere between 50 lakh and 2 crore to support their campaign. I doubt that any original VCK members have such a sum that they are able to allocate toward electoral expenditure.

The VCK developed its reputation as a Dalit party, but, as a scholar studying the movement, I hesitate to call it a Dalit party today. It has taken up common agendas including issues pertaining to Tamil nationalism, water rights, and minority communities. What challenges does the VCK confront as it tries to refashion its image from that of a Dalit party to a mainstream party that addresses common issues? Electoral stipulations require that the party expand and include new vote banks. Can you speak about the limitations of a Dalit political identity and the challenges of entering the political mainstream? [1:01:50]

GS: As a Dalit party we have a clear vision. Do you regard the PMK as a common party?

MC: No.

GS: Do you regard the AIADMK as a common party?

MC: No, but I would say that the demographics of its support base is broader than VCK and PMK. By common party I am referring to a party’s support base. AIADMK obviously has strong Thevar support, but they also receive support from a broad range of castes.

GS: Caste Hindus feel as if Dalits cannot raise their voice for a common cause. This is a primary contradiction in our land. This is a major problem. They think that only non-Dalits have the capacity to raise their voice for a common cause. But, we believe that there is no common cause. What is the common cause? What is ‘the common’? Our society is not a common society. It is a package comprised of many smaller units. On the surface, something that we might call ‘the common’ may appear to exist, but it is actually comprised of many smaller units. Each political party has its own circles of support. AIADMK has its circles, DMK has its circles, PMK has its circles, and we also have our circles. From within these circles we step forward to raise our voice in the name of a common cause. But, caste Hindus refuse to accept a Dalit voice that speaks about common issues. They want to curtail a Dalit voice that speaks for a common cause because once we raise our voice for ‘the common’ the continuance of non-Dalit movements as custodians and representatives of ‘the common’ will been drawn into question.

During Ambedkar’s lifetime, Congress projected its own voice as the voice of the nation and represented Ambedkar’s voice as a subnational voice. Ambedkar contested this. He argued that the voice of Congress was not the only voice capable of addressing common issues; he also raised his voice to address common issues. So, this is the main challenge. From the origins of Congress, from the origins of the Dravidian movement, all movements share this perspective. They think that Dalits cannot raise their voice for ‘the common’. But, first of all, we do not accept the notion of ‘the common’. There is no ‘common’, only particulars that are themselves smaller components of this so-called ‘common’. If the government creates projects or schemes, the beneficiaries are always particulars; there is no common beneficiary. Reservations are not common; justice is not common; elections are not common. Are of these things are components of an abstraction that we refer to as ‘the common’. This is our perspective.

Why is VCK, as a Dalit movement, raising its voice for the common? This is an important question? First of all, the VCK was a Dalit movement during its early period. At the time, it was called the DPI, or Dalit Panther Iyakkam (movement), but later converted itself into Viduthalai Chiruthaigal. Following its transformation, Thirumaavalavan felt that Viduthalai Chiruthaigal should not work only for Dalits, but also raise its voice for Tamil Eelam and other Tamil issues. For example, take the Kaveri River dispute. Before Thirumaavalavan, Dalit movements did not raise their voice on such matters because the Kaveri issue was considered a state issue, not an issue of a particular district. DMK and AIADMK considered it to be a state issue. Dravidian parties thought that Dalits were not supposed to voice their opinions on such issues, they have no right to do so. But Thirumaavalavan came forward and organized a rally across five districts. It was a massive rally; such activities unsettled Dravidian parties. In particular, the Eelam issue was an asset of parties such as DMK, AIADMK, MDMK and PMK. Also, because rivers and natural resources are assets of upper castes, they felt that oppressed people such as the Dalits should not voice concerns on such matters.

When the VCK raised its voice, it projected itself as an equal of these parties and, further, as a representative of Tamils. How could the other parties accept such a scenario? They tried to prevent VCK from raising its voice on common issues. In response, we have continued our struggle to claim recognition as a common identity. Recognition as a common identity is a form of political power. Without a common identity we cannot fight on the common dais. So we are struggling to stand on the dais and claim a common identity. We are doing this now and we will continue to do so in the future. I may be a Dalit, but I have a language, I have native soil, I have a settlement, I have all of these things just like non-Dalit people. Why should I surrender my right to raise my voice on these issues? I should also step forward under the banner of a common identity. It is a strategy to counter these people.

MC: A former MLA once informed that four sources of power fuel Tamil politics: mass mobilization, which the VCK possesses, money, muscle and media, for which it must rely on Dravidian coalition partners. If you address the media regarding a development plan for colonies in Chengalpattu it is unlikely that any media outlet will carry the news, but if you burn an effigy of Rajapaksa in the streets, you will likely receive print, broadcast, and digital media attention. When the VCK tries to address new issues, does it receive attention? Did protests on the Kaveri River dispute garner media attention?

GS: In our state and across our nation, there is no common media. Your question suggests that we have a vested interest to capture the media attention, but not in such a manner. It’s not just for publicity. We have committed to promote causes of the oppressed; we feel that a protest during which we burn an effigy of Mr. Rajapaksha in the streets demonstrates our genuine interest in the Eelam issue. Mr. Rajapaksha is a war criminal who should be punished. In that instance, the media shared our interest in the issue and therefore broadcast our protest to a wider audience. The intention behind our protest was to advance a cause; the added benefit of media coverage reflects the VCK’s commitment to the issue.

MC: I understand that there is substantial political ownership and investment in private media.

GS: Yes, that is crystal clear. Before the VCK’s emergence, media outlets ignored news regarding Dalit people. Maybe in sensational instances, that is if our people were burnt or killed, then newspapers would carry a news item. But, media outlets never carried news about our political or social achievements; rather, they ignored our people. Then, in the 1990s, the emergence of Thirumaavalavan and the VCK was unprecedented. Today, he has a visible media presence and media outlets face pressure to publish our position when we address a common issue. It is unavoidable. This is one among the reasons that we have taken up the Kaveri issue, Mullaperiyar issue, Eelam issue, and so many other issues. Still, the media does not appreciate our stance on localized Dalit issues; once we touch it and raise such issues, they develop an allergy. When we expose these things, it also exposes the media. Due to this pressure, they are willing to allot some space for us and, only after our growth, they now carry news items covering our position on common issues.

You pointed out four sources of power: media, muscle, money and mass mobilization. Our movement has mass support. We have a lot of muscle and organizational strength. But, we lack money and media access. Although our president Mr. Thirumaavalavan has cultivated a media presence, it is not sufficient. Still we do not have our own media outlet.  All the other political parties own their own private media outlets.

MC: The VCK has discussed launching its own television channel. Will this plan materialize?

GS: Yes, I anticipate that it will happen, but we don’t have sufficient funds yet.

MC: I’m sure that it is an expensive venture, but there are also alternative forms of media. Many youth in the party are using Facebook effectively. What is the party’s approach to digital media? Is there an organizational plan to reach out to the people via digital media? Is this not possible considering widespread smartphone phone use and internet access today?

GS: Yes. We recently convened a seminar with the title ‘VCK Digital Media’. It was the first seminar on the topic, not only for VCK, but, moreover, it was the first such meeting all over India. Professor Hugo Gorringe from the University of Edinburgh, our chairman Thol. Thirumaavalavan, Mr. Sanjay Pinto of NDTV, Mr. Feraro of K.TV Chennai, and many media personalities along with myself participated and shared our views. More than 500 youth attended the seminar. This meeting provided a trigger and, shortly thereafter, all Tamil political parties conducted similar meetings. However, ours was the first. Further, we promoted youth to spearhead this branch of the movement. At first, our name was e-VCK and launched many websites. In the field of digital media, we inaugurated e-VCK and conducted several seminars in which intellectuals came together to present their ideas on how to best harness the power of digital media: Facebook, Twitter, and other social platforms. We initiated this conversation and then, based on our idea, other political parties followed suit and launched similar events. We had an impact, it was unavoidable, and now we have a cyber-war!

MC: Digital media enables you to sidestep this problem. One benefit of social media is that your news reaches your audience directly. Recently, a VCK youth in Kanchipuram District posted photos on Facebook demonstrating how government funds from the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Development Programme were used to construct separate graveyards for Dalits and non-Dalits. In effect, these photos revealed how government programs sometimes contribute to the maintenance and creation of caste-restrictive spaces. I observed firsthand how this news spread quickly among VCK youth on Facebook. This seems to be important considering that the VCK has a strong youth support base and, according to a recent survey, 45% of Indian voters are between the ages of 18-35.

GS: Yes, but a majority of Dalits are less literate; not illiterate, but less literate. In urban areas Dalits may have internet connections, but this is often true in rural areas. In rural areas our propaganda depends more heavily on visual media (i.e., wall posters) and less so on print media (i.e., newspapers, published journals). When Hugo Gorringe presented a paper at our seminar, his concluding sentence stated, ‘please work offline.’ He advised us, ‘it may prove beneficial to work online, but you must also work offline.’ This is a very astute observation, we also must do offline work. We need to interact with the people in rural areas, in villages and colonies. Certainly, youth are working online and digital media provides them with a powerful tool to reach well educated and internet-savvy audiences. But it is not as helpful when organizing Dalit communities at deeper grassroots levels; this applies both to Tamil Nadu and India more generally. Digital media is making gains in some areas, but not to the same extent as in countries like Libya as well as in western countries. Internet access may be widely accessible in the west, but this is not our current reality in India.

MC: Are you saying that smartphone-enabled internet access is limited in rural villages? Are people in villages not also accessing the internet on their phones? 

GS: Today, many people have Android and similar smartphones, but they do not fully understand their devices; they are using them just for fun. First of all, they are seeing this instrument, it’s the first time they are seeing it, and they want to enjoy them just as the others. Such devices are put to use to raise political awareness only as a secondary objective. We must continue working to usher the people into cyber politics. It’s a huge task to direct the people in that direction. At present, we are concentrating on three types of media; we concentrate foremost on print media, then on visual media, and thirdly on cyber media and social networks.

Why have we categorized media into three types? Firstly, print media is easily comprehensible to the people and, moreover, it is easily spread among the people. Also, it is comparatively less expensive. If I have Rs. 1000, I can print 2000 pamphlets. With Rs. 1000, I can print 100 posters. Print media provides an accessible and affordable medium to promote our party among the people. Secondly, in terms of visual media, we don’t have a strong presence on local television networks. National networks like Sun TV are only now presenting our news on their networks. Finally, I have already shared my views on cyber media earlier in this conversation.

MC: Does joining a DMK coalition provide greater access to media infrastructure?

GS: We have limited access on Kalaignar TV as well as some other channels. The people will observe us if we are allotted time to discuss particular matters and, thereby, we can disseminate our views without any added expense. Television coverage is very cheap, but we have less opportunity for coverage through digital media as compared to visual media. Cyber media, by which I refer to internet media, provides a global reach but receives limited exposure at the local level. First and foremost, we want to enhance our exposure at the local level. Regardless, cyber media enables us to promote our views as well, preserve our news and records, and share our accomplishments.

MC: The party appears as if constructed about Thirumaavalavan’s personality. On movement propaganda, he is the face of the party. How has his election as an MP affected the party’s overall functioning? What happens when he is away in Delhi and, therefore, not present to attend events? Does participation decline? If we compare the VCK approach to that of the PMK, Ramadoss does not contest elections. He remains in the state to to run and manage the party. Are there any ideas within the VCK to field other candidates and keep Thirumaavalavan in Tamil Nadu to focus on party organization?

GS: Yes, last election Thirumaavalavan also raised this prospect, but the people need victory. Without victory, the people will not accept someone as their leader. Only victory can create light; victory generates its own charisma. Electoral victory is critical for running and maintaining a party. Once you enter electoral politics you must win elections. This is the main stipulation of electoral politics. Without political victory you will not survive. This is the motivation behind his decision to contest parliamentary elections.

Secondly, when Thirumaavalavan stays in-station, the people come and meet him and then return to their duties. When he is not in-station, neither are the people. They travel about and attend to their own work. This is our political fate, but we need it. In other parties, like AIADMK, Jayalalitha will not go to the party headquarters because she has power. She is a chief minister; she has lots of powerful people who handle such matters. It is impossible for the people to meet her. So, if they want some power or specific needs met the people go and satisfy their needs with these people. The VCK is not like this. Without Thirumaavalavan’s charisma it is impossible to organize the people or to contest and win elections. This is our political situation.

This discussion would be irrelevant if we had not entered electoral politics because Thirumaavalavan would always be among the people. If you had wanted to go meet him, then you would travel into local areas and visit different villages. But, once he emerged as a political leader within electoral politics it became essential to capture political power. It became inescapable that our people and leaders gradually forfeited that earlier mindset. Yes, people feel their own power as the reflection of their leader’s power, that is what I have said. This is a common perspective. You have correctly represented the people’s behavior; they focus upon their own work when our leader is away. We understand that things are proceeding in this manner. If you prefer that second-tier VCK leaders enter parliament, I suspect that this situation may present itself in the future.

The next Lok Sabha election will occur in 2014, and then the Tamil Nadu Assembly Election in 2016. If Thirumaavalavan does not contest and win, what will we do in those two years? It is difficult to manage a party without political authority. So, we have asked our president to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election. He will contest and promote our party across many villages. We promote the party through the power.

MC: How many seats to you expect to contest in the 2014 Lok Sabha Election?

GS: I expect that we request four or five, but we cannot predict how many they will give.

MC: I predict a maximum of two seats.

GS: That is possible

MC: If we consider Dalit politics within a long-term perspective, aside from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh, Dalit parties have been unsuccessful in elections. Even Ambedkar struggled mightily in electoral politics? What can the VCK do differently?

GS: First, allow me to clarify Ambedkar’s experience. His political defeats illuminate democratic and non-democratic aspects of Indian society. Why was Ambedkar defeated? Before 1937, Dalits did not possess a voting right, but in 1937 the British introduced voting rights in local body elections.[3] Afterwards, they introduced political changes every ten years. Previously, they had imposed strict criteria on voter eligibility. If you own land, you have a voting right. If you possess a degree, you have a voting right. If you have a zamindari (pay taxes), you have a voting right. They imposed so many conditions on adult suffrage. Without these qualities, you could not vote. At that time, Ambedkar and other leaders advocated universal suffrage for all adults without regard to privilege.

Dalits received voting rights after the Poona Pact (1932). Ambedkar won that right. In 1937, the first election was introduced with popular suffrage. So, for the first time, Dalits came forward to vote. At that time, the Dalit people lacked political awareness and tended to trust the Congress Party. As I said previously, the voting system had already existed for the privileged, but the first time that Dalits voted it was not possible to select their own people. Though, in 1937, Ambedkar’s Scheduled Caste Federation contested 17 constituencies and won 13 seats. It was a successful beginning. Afterwards there was no light, only darkness, a socio-political darkness created by caste hierarchy. Caste had re-awakened and Ambedkar suffered electoral defeat. In each election that he stood independently, he was defeated. Ambedkar was defeated in the Constitution Assembly Election and the 1951 general election. In fact, his only electoral victories occurred when he joined a coalition. In his first victory, he contested with the support of Muslim League. On the second occasion, he was elected with the support of Congress. But, he was defeated whenever he stood under his own symbol. Why was he defeated? Ambedkar clearly stated that Dalits are a majority community in India, but this majority is a scattered majority. This means that Dalits form a relative minority in the electoral system.

There may be one lakh voters in a given constituency such that twenty thousand votes provide a sufficient majority. Allow me to explain. In each election, a maximum of 67% of the electorate will cast their vote. 33% of the people will not vote; only 67% will cast a ballot. Dalits comprise 20% of the electorate. Among Dalits, 95% of the people will cast their vote. This means among the 67% of voters, these Dalit votes comprise more than 35% of all votes tallied. This is a simple majority. But Dalit leaders cannot consolidate this majority. Why? Because Dalits reside in small settlements in every village. These Dalit settlements are very small. One hundred votes here, two hundred votes here, five hundred votes there. The Dalit vote is huge, but the vote is geographically scattered and ultimately split amongst political parties: Congress, DMK, AIADMK. Still today, Dalit movements do not control the Dalit vote. Because of this, this scattered majority cannot be converted into a simple majority. This is the key reason behind Ambedkar’s electoral struggles. I think this fate of the scattered majority is omnipresent in our political situation. Today, I fear that it has extended even further.

MC: I understand that labor migration has been on the rise. Since the 1980s and 1990s, laborers are increasingly migrating from villages to work in towns and urban centers…

GS: Yes, many workers are working in the grand market at Koyambedu, Chennai, but not only there. Dalit migrant laborers are present in many urban areas. After liberalization, the social economy of the village system underwent substantial revision. Secondly, mechanized equipment including tractors, seeding machines, harvesting machines and others have been introduced into rural agriculture. Earlier, some twenty laborers, generally from the Dalit cheri, were required to till and harvest one acre. Now, following technological innovation, one individual can harvest an acre within a few hours.

What about the other nineteen people? How did they respond? They, who were already landless, then became unemployed. They faced immense pressure to secure a job and stable income. Without source of income they cannot remain in the village. As a result, these individuals were pushed out from the village and entered urban areas such as Koyambedu in Chennai. Due to mechanization in the agrarian system, the Dalit people have come out of the villages. This is the central reason. Moreover, the traditional system of cultivation protected the caste system, thrusting Dalit people into subservience beneath non-Dalit landholders. Without land, they are not able to live. This landholding system sustained the power of local upper castes, but their power became diluted as Dalits began to leave.

Even though it was they who initially pressed for these agricultural changes, the caste Hindus do not accept the present scenario. They demanded technological development to boost their agrarian income, but now they cannot tolerate its effects: the exodus of Dalit laborers from villages. Everyday, this controversy is deepening. Violence has erupted. The backwards castes are observing their power, accumulated over so many years, gradually erode. By power, I refer to their earlier control over both land and labor. In the present situation, it is best for Dalits to escape the clutches of the village economy. Ambedkar said, ‘If you are going to eradicate untouchability, every village must receive a capitalized agricultural system.’ He thought that a mechanized agricultural system will eradicate the system of untouchability. So, as an ideologue, as an Ambedkarite, I welcome this situation. But, those who prefer the traditional agricultural system would not welcome these changes. As a political leader, I welcome them. The change is visible today.

MC: In 2013, I visited Dharmapuri with and spoke with inhabitants of the three Dalit colonies that were attacked. The residents stated that at least one member of most families was now working outside the district. As agrarian incomes decline and labor migration offers a viable livelihood, Dalits in Dharmapuri appears to leaving the village to work in Bangalore and Coimbatore in the construction, service, and hospitality sectors. Additionally, many Dalit women are working in NREGA and, as a result, their presence in the fields has similarly decreased. Local landholders have not only lost their field labors, but also their domestic labor. As remittances flowed into the village, it seems as if they have begun to level economic and social asymmetries between the Dalit and Vanniyar communities. I think that Dharmapuri illuminated many of these changes to the rural economy that are presently underway

GS: Yes, Dharmapuri is a case study for caste violence in Tamil Nadu that brings to light changes in the social order. You must understand something: the DMK and AIADMK do not possess a clear economic program in Tamil Nadu. They don’t have a plan to promote irrigation, they don’t have a plan to eradicate untouchability, they don’t have a plan to eradicate poverty, they don’t have a plan to transform the existing village system. Regardless of the village, the cheri and oor are segregated, there is a Dalit village and a caste Hindu village. The Dravidian parties have not eradicated such practices of social segregation. This remains visible today. These parties want maintain power to generate profits that perpetuate their existence in politics. They did not enter the political field to address the most pressing needs of the people. Additionally, these parties lack a clear political-economic agenda; they are purely populist movements that lack a political-economic agenda. They speak as if they have accomplished so many things, but the state is not developing due to the absence of a clear political and economic plan.

MC: I have been told that special economic zones only enhance the bursars of Dravidian parties, enabling them to maintain their rule by converting a fraction of these profits into campaign handouts. Are free televisions, mixers, and grinders evidence of of this?

GS: Yes, but how are we going to change this political system? It is already very expensive and very corrupt. The issues go well beyond freebies distributed to households like mixers and grinders. The basic root of the corruption and political malpractice is caste. Without caste it would not have emerged in the same way. Dalits are helpless at present; I think that we need to rethink and redesign our strategy. We will articulate a fresh plan in the near future.

[1] On February 28, 2014, Thirumaavalavan announced that the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal will contest the 2016 Assembly Election independently.

[2] The VCK uses the Tamil term ‘mugaam’, literally an army encampment, to refer to its local units rather than the conventional term ‘kilai’, meaning a unit or branch.

[3] As per the Government of India Act 1935, provincial elections were held in 1936-37 in which, for the first time, the majority of Indians were eligible to participate. Results were announced in February 1937.

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Written by plcflash

February 20, 2016 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“Today every youth in the cheri will become a Tiger”

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“Today every youth in the cheri will become a Tiger”

The speech was delivered by Thol. Thirumaavalavan during a public meeting to salute the Black Tiger Muthukumar

28 May 2010

My dear Liberation Panthers who are the light of my life, I express my humble greetings to all of you.

Today, on the behalf of the Liberation Panthers, I salute Tamil Nadu’s Black Tiger and our younger brother Muthukumar.  From this stage I will salute all of our Eelam brothers martyred in diasporic countries and Tamil Nadu’s revolutionaries who sacrificed themselves along with him.

Muthukumar did not commit this act of self-immolation while his mind was overwhelmed with emotion.  He thought very deeply and pressed forward with unwavering conviction.  He stood resolute in his decision and sacrificed his own life.  His noble desire was that the entire Tamil ethnic people’s blood must be brought to a boil; they must rise up demanding that the Sinhala racism thrust upon Eelam Tamils must be stopped; insisting that the war must be abruptly ended.  He handed over his life to us as a weapon to achieve this objective.  Tamil society is dutifully bound to express gratitude to this hero, to this great revolutionary.  And we, as Liberation Panthers who salute this great hero, are committed to continue the work that he left behind.

The comrades who spoke here referenced all of the fieldwork that the Liberation Panthers has been conducting in recent years in support of Eelam Tamils.  The world knows that the Liberation Panthers is a movement that continuously struggles in connection to Eelam Tamil politics in Tamil Nadu.  A few people who had been waiting for an opportune moment began to slander our movement following political changes that occurred after the last Tamil Nadu parliamentary election.

So, the comrades that spoke here put forth a criticism that there are so many different perspectives among all of the political party leaders.  I do not want to criticize anyone; I do not want to make allegations against anyone.  It doesn’t matter if I announce this to the entire town, but it is my duty to say it to the Liberation Panthers.

I am obliged to record information from this stage regarding the Black Tiger Muthukumar’s remembrance!  Comrades, the fourth war is coming to a close in Eelam!  This war resumed after a period of peace.  A cease-fire was reached in 2002.  That cease-fire lasted for a span of five years and ended in February 2007.  After that, this war was executed very quickly by the Sinhalae racists.  History tells us that during the cease-fire they did not honor the agreement.  But, as soon as the five year cease-fire ended, the war first resumed in an area called Maavilaaru.  Ever since that day the Liberation Panthers has been ceaselessly conducting hunger fasts, processions, and continuous demonstrations in Tamil Nadu!  No one who is honest in their views can ignore the VCK’s demonstrations in relation to Eelam.

Suddenly the Communist Party conducted a hunger strike in October last year.  They did not invite us.  Not only in Tamil Nadu, but throughout India Communist parties are not in favor of Eelam liberation.  The Communist parties have not adopted this position.  The Communist parties are parties that do not accept the notion of Tamil Eelam.  Specifically, their stance is that they [Tamils in Eelam] must have their rights under one unified government.    That is Rajapaksa’s position; it is Sonia Gandhi’s position; it is Jayalalitha’s position.

They do not accept the notion of a separate homeland, a Tamil Eelam.  But suddenly they conducted a hunger strike.  But you might ask, ‘What demands did they press forward during that hunger strike?’  They demanded, ‘The war must be stopped.’  Whoever are honest with themselves should understand the political background in which this was conducted.

The Communist parties rescinded their support to the Congress Party in New Delhi.  They supported the Congress Party for four and a half years [in the central government] and during that time the Indian government remained steadfast against Eelam Tamils.  During that time, they never once criticized Congress in parliament for its position against Eelam Tamils; the Communist parties never once spoke in support of Eelam Tamils.  Upon abandoning their support of Congress in the central government they were politically isolated.  They could not join the BJP, yet they were sent out of the Congress coalition.  Presently a crisis has befallen the Communist parties so that they must engage in politics by maintaining alliances here and there at the state level by joining hands with state-level parties.

The Communist Party in Tamil Nadu decided to organize this hunger strike.   The DMK is presently allied with Congress in Tamil Nadu.  The Communists cannot enter into an alliance with the DMK, which remains in the Congress coalition.  The Communists can only join the ADMK coalition.  The method they used to join the ADMK alliance was to thrust strong criticism on the DMK and Congress.  In their situation, the recent Eelam Tamil position provides political opportunism for the Communist parties!

They expected an invitation would arrive from the ADMK alliance following their opposition to the DMK-Congress coalition.  For the purpose of entering the ADMK coalition they thrust their support behind Eelam Tamils!  Everyone who thinks clearly and ethically will acknowledge this fact.  This criticism was suitable yesterday, it will be suitable tomorrow, and it holds at the present moment: the CPI and CPI-(M) parties have never embraced a pro-Eelam liberation stance.  The Indian government conducted a war against Eelam Tamils, only now the Communists have discovered this!  It was only after coming out of an alliance with Congress that they opened their eyes and this fact became visible.  If this is true, with which coalition can the Communists join hands in Tamil Nadu?  They can join the ADMK coalition.  If they were to join the ADMK coalition, they had to follow this method.  Because of this, they conducted a hunger strike for one day.  We were not invited to participate in that hunger strike; we went and participated on our own accord.  In recent years, the Liberation Panthers is the only party that has spearheaded demonstrations on a continual basis in support of Eelam Tamils.

There is a multitude of different political parties in Tamil Nadu including the DMK, ADMK, Congress, Communist parties, BJP, PMK, MDMK, Liberation Panthers.  Among these, while MGR held leadership of the ADMK, it supported Eelam; it supported the Tigers; it gave support; it provided aid.  But, after MGR’s death, on the day that Jayalalitha assumed leadership, she has never even supported Eelam for a single day!  Is this not true?  Even today under Jayalalitha’s leadership the ADMK is a party that operates against Eelam.  From the day she assumed leadership the ADMK became a political party that opposes Eelam.  This truth must be understood.  When the international press met Prabhakaran in the Vanni Forest, the whole world was very proud to see Prabhakaran standing before the journalists and providing information.  But if one person became irritated upon watching this interview it was Jayalalitha.

At that time she was chief minister; I was a member of the Legislative Assembly.  On that day she grew irate in the Legislative Assembly.  She firmly resolved that Prabhakaran must be arrested.  Jayalalitha made a decision against Eelam, against the Tigers, against Prabhakaran.  She never supported the liberation of Eelam.  In Tamil Nadu the ADMK controls 24-25 percent of the vote.  Jayalalitha controls that many people.

As far the DMK is concerned, ‘the snake should not die, but the cane should not be broken’, and even today the DMK maintains its political stand: “We support Eelam Tamils.”  The DMK’s political stance remains steadfast, ‘If Eelam is achieved, we will attain happiness’.  They [ADMK] never supported the Tigers.  They never released a statement proclaiming, ‘We support the liberation of a sovereign Eelam.’  Still today the DMK’s official stand remains, ‘If Eelam is achieved, we are happy; we support Eelam Tamils!’  They [DMK] control 24-25 percent of the vote share in Tamil Nadu.  These parties are preventing fifty-percent of the vote share in Tamil Nadu from speaking about Eelam.  Is this not true?  No one can refuse this!

Congress is a staunch adversary of Eelam Tamils, but it controls only 4-5 percent of the vote share in Tamil Nadu.  They have never supported Eelam; they do not support the Tigers!  They work against them.  Now, the two Communist parties: They have not adopted a political stance that supports Eelam.  They receive 3- and 4-percent of the vote share.  The Communist parties have never adopted a pro-Eelam stance on the basis of principle.  The BJP does not even control one-percent of the vote share here.  But, it is a national party.  Neither in Tamil Nadu nor in the rest of the India has the BJP ever on any given day conceded that they never supported liberation in Tamil Eelam.

On one occasion Bal Thackeray said, “I like the Tigers because Prabhakaran is a Hindu.”  The BJP, which claims to be a party fighting for Hindu welfare, only ruled India a few times.  But, they have never once supported Tamil Eelam; they do not support the Tigers.  This is the BJP’s stance.  So, these are the political positions adopted by prominent parties in Tamil Nadu.

The Liberation Panthers, PMK, and MDMK are the only parties in Tamil Nadu that openly support the Tigers and Eelam.  This is the political situation in Tamil Nadu.  Even among the political parties in Tamil Nadu, we cannot pinpoint any prominent party as Eelam supporters.

Who brought forth the POTA Act?  Who incarcerated Pazha. NedumaaRan, Vaiko, and still other comrades for eighteen months under the POTA Act?  Jayalalitha alone has done this!  For what reason?  Because they spoke about Prabhakaran’s interview in a modest setting.  There is no other reason.  They did not smuggle weapons; they did not smuggle medical supplies.  They did not smuggle any essential items for the Tigers.  On the contrary, they said these things in a meeting with the international media, a symposium.  Because of this, Jayalalitha incarcerated Pazha. NedumaaRan and Vaiko for 18 months under the POTA Act.  Also at that time, the Liberation Panthers chanted this movement slogan from every political stage, “Tigers means Eelam; Eelam means Tigers!”  From the time of implementing the POTA Act in 2002, the Liberation Panthers is the political party that has gone to Jaffna and is delivering speeches and participating in conferences [supporting Tigers].  From that day up through the present day it has become obvious [that we are the only political party] organizing rallies, demonstrations, protests, and symposiums related to Eelam!

Recently in 2008 during the months of October and November the Liberation Panthers conducted a protest every week!  The Women’s Liberation Panthers conducted a just war hunger strike!  This just war protest is continually growing through the efforts of Laborers Liberation Front!  On behalf of the Liberation Panthers’ ancillary wings one protest per week was staged under the name, ‘Progressive students union/organization’s procession – common meeting’.  Next, on December 26th, the party’s statewide Eelam Recognition Conference was convened.  Congress politicians imposed a ban on that conference.  Congress members in the Legislative Assembly raised their voice in protest in order to ban the conference.  The police department issued a ban saying, ‘we will not permit this conference’.  After this, we appealed and the chief minister intervened.  We brought this case before the courts.  On this basis only we received permission for the state conference.  Upon surmounting these obstacles and crises the Liberation Panthers conducted this state-level conference.  Up to this point in Tamil Nadu no other political party has opened its mouth and spoken about the violence happening in Eelam.  The Liberation Panthers are the only political party that has embraced and acted upon this upsurge of emotion and protested.  With this upsurge of emotion, we have burned effigies of Rajapaksa throughout Tamil Nadu!  For a six month period, the Liberation Panthers transformed Tamil Nadu into a war zone through our protests!

Today there are some critics that have come to salute Muthukumar who claim, ‘Every single day the Liberation Panthers abandon the Dalit cause to focus their activities elsewhere.’  Today many Dalit leaders will come forward to salute Muthukumar; Among the Dalits who used to criticize the Panthers saying that they abandoned the Dalit cause to concentrate elsewhere are now coming here and saluting Muthukumar.  This is a source of happiness!  Truly, Tamil nationalism dwells within the cheri!  Because of that the people of the cheri’s leaders welcome [the opportunity] to speak [about] Tamil nationalism.  Following the Tamil Eelam state conference on December 26th the Liberation Panthers reinvigorated this protest in a grand manner!  While speaking, comrade Gauthamchanna and other comrades took note of this.

On January 15th we commenced a hunger strike.  As comrade Sinthanai Selvan noted, we might transform this into an indefinite hunger strike.  I took this decision from the bottom of my heart.  If I were in Eelam, I would have obtained martyrdom.  I was not born in Eelam; unfortunately I was born in Tamil Nadu.  So, in the path [of life] that I know, I am continuing this war.  Countless demonstrations have been staged. Countless conferences have been organized; we have staged rail rokkos.  Having exhausted all alternate forms of protest, I have not asked anyone else to commence a hunger strike, I will do this alone, even up to death.  This is the decision that I have taken for myself.  This is the background for that decision.

On January 2nd (2009), the Tigers vacated Kilinochchi.  The Sinhala forces occupied the area.  Following the Tigers’ retreat in the war, they never reclaimed Kilinochchi.  But, based upon the request of the leader of an armed political party [Prabhakaran], approximately 1.5 lakh people vacated Kilinochchi.  They went to the Pudukudiyiruppu area.  They established a base and fought from that point.  Since lakhs upon lakhs of people listened to the liberation movement leader’s speech; how can this movement be considered a terrorist movement?  Is this not understood across the world?

Last January 4th, while participating in the Periyar Marxist-Socialist Party’s conference, I delivered a speech that advanced a proposition, ‘As leaders of political parties in Tamil Nadu we have taken electoral politics and we will throw it in the waste basket; a race is being destroyed, Eelam is burning; leaders, we must come together and unite as one.’  I proposed this proposition.  On this basis, I struggled to unite the leaders of all Tamil political parties.

My efforts to consolidate Tamil political leaders went to waste.  On January 10th, the day passed without convening the executive council meeting that was scheduled for that day.  Also, meeting scheduled for January 12th did not occur.  Next, the PMK and Liberation Panthers joined together but our efforts to stage a hunger strike were defeated.  Next, our effort to recruit the chief minister to join our hunger strike also failed.  In the end, I reached a conclusion.

On January 14th the chief minister announced for the first time the Tamil New Year.  Even then, we were given permission to conduct the hunger strike after 5pm on January 15th.  Under those circumstances, permission was granted with the condition that if the hunger strike continues past five o’clock disciplinary measures will be taken against the VCK.  I agreed to set up the venue in the place permitted by the police department.  The police department instructed us, ‘Arrange the stage near the Cheppaakkam Government Dignitaries Mansion, install the dais; you may sit and speak in that place only’.  I set out and said to erect the dais in accordance with the police department’s instructions.  We saw many open groups around schools and colleges.  We saw and approached open grounds in the proximity of churches.  But, we were not permitted to stage the hunger strike in these areas.  It was only afterwards on the way to Thambaram that we visited and inquired about marriage halls.  But, not a solitary marriage hall was available.  While going in the direction of Thambaram an idea struck me, in Kaattangoltthuur there is a place owned by Thennavan.  We cleaned Thennavan’s place over night thinking that we could convene the fast at that location.

Upon arrival it became clear to me, if we see his place and even if that place is clean, it will not suit our purposes.  Then he said to me, “Nearby a marriage hall is available, come and see it.”  Upon seeing it, we made a reservation.  That place was the venue I was seeking.  This was the ideal place, it was an amenable place, erect the dais here, if the police department comes and asks questions, tell them we are going to organize a Pongal gift giving celebration.  Tell them that Thirumaavalavan will come and give gifts.  I told them, ‘you must not say anything else’.  At that point in time it was three o’clock in the afternoon.  After that I went to Velicheri and bathed.  It was eight o’clock when I returned to the marriage hall.  While setting up the dais the police department arrived and asked questions.  Our cadre told them it was for a gift giving celebration.  However, somehow the police department understood the truth.  They said, ‘Thirumaavalavan will go and sit there to perform his fast until death!’

It was under these circumstances that the hunger strike had to be conducted.  It was not conducted for the sake of publicity; it was not just in name’s sake; it was not an attempt to deceive the public into thinking that it was performed for the sake of some individual (for the sake of Thirumaavalavan); in all honesty, while thinking that a race is being destroyed, and while agonizing over this, distressed and enraged, I decided to stage this event.  The event extended one day, two days, three days, four days.  On the first day and the second day, our comrades exuded pressure to abandon the hunger strike.  The police department also pressured us to abandon the protest. Dravidar Kazhagam leader Veerimani came on that day and requested that we conclude the fast as it will not achieve its objectives.  Minister Arkkaattaar came and asked on the behalf of Karunanidhi to conclude the hunger strike.  Regardless, I refused.  All the alliance party leaders came, actors, actresses, all of these people came.  Individuals on behalf of Tamil nationalist organizations came. I was steadfast.

On the third day the Liberation Panthers began to cause a stir.  Information began pouring in that because of our protest, a law and order problem was created throughout the state; buses were struck and smashed; in a few places fires erupted.  In a situation like this we must protect our comrades; violence began to swell and the radius of the protest extended further and further.  If you waste your life in a hunger fast, how will the party be protected?  How will society be protected?  How will society be guided?  When party leaders laid all of these questions before me, when prominent comrades presented these questions to me, I did not comply with their requests.  Having already premeditated these things, I progressed forward with my plans.  Without thinking, I pressed forward.  I had considered these things beforehand and I continued the hunger strike.

On the fourth day, comrades presented an opinion before me: it won’t be enough for just me to be involved in protest.  As the hunger strike progressed into the fourth day, aside from the Liberation Panthers creating a tense situation in Tamil Nadu, no other party encouraged our protest; nowhere else did they get involved in road rokkos, they did not sit in hunger fasts, they did not take any measures in this situation.  In light of this, they said that I must reconsider continuing the hunger strike.

Comrade Gauthamasannaa spoke here about the ADMK, not only the ADMK; also parties in Tamil Nadu that support Eelam did not come forward, enter the streets and join with the VCK in road rokkos.  They will not form a human shield-style demonstration and enter the protest.  Why did they maintain their silence?  What lies behind this silence?  Having made use of our hunger strike as a pretext, can it not transform into a great struggle?  Only the Liberation Panthers engaged in a rokko here and there; and they were the only ones who were arrested!

If someone is intensely supporting Eelam, no one else will come forward and step into the street to struggle.  Ramadoss, having come directly to meet me for a second time and seen my body’s health, took my blood pressure.  He said in solidarity and with concern that at any time a problem could be created for my body’s health.  No matter who comes, the Liberation Panthers and the PMK will join together and stage this demonstration continuously for ten days; nothing runs in Tamil Nadu aside from ambulances, milk carts, medical trucks, and similar things; we will create this type of situation in Tamil Nadu!  Ramadoss said this.  Having faith in the promise that regardless who comes, the Liberation Panthers and the PMK, having joined together, we will struggle, I said in a frenzy on that stage, ‘we will defeat and drive away from this soil the Congress Party that abets the Sinhala racists who fight against Eelam Tamils and against Eelam liberation.’  What belief impelled me to speak in this manner?  It was spoken with the belief that all parties supporting Eelam will stand alongside us.  On the fourth day at eight-thirty in the evening I concluded the hunger strike.  But, in a demonstration organized on the following day the PMK founder expressed in a tone of warning an opinion that denounced me.  He said, ‘Thirumaavalavan’s criticism of the Congress Party is objectionable.’

Our younger brother Muthukumar had been in MaRaimalai Nagar during those four days.  This is another piece of information of which you should be aware.  All over the world supporting protests have been staged.  Why were such protests not also staged in Tamil Nadu?  Thirumaavalavan, like Dhilipan, staged a hunger strike; many lamenting Tamils in diasporic countries rallied in protest proclaiming, ‘he should not sacrifice his life’.  In Tamil Nadu no other party joined our protest.  Many of them mistakenly think that Thirumaavalavan acted for the sake of self-publicity and self-benefit.  I speak from my conscience; Eelam burned like a fire inside of me; it emanated like a searing flaming from within me.   Because of that, I took this decision.

In Tamil Nadu this protest could have been intensified further.  But Tamil political parties and even movements that support Eelam maintained their silence.  If Vaiko ascended the stage at that time, if Jayalalitha ascended the stage at that time, political coalitions in Tamil Nadu would have been transformed.  What prevented them from ascending Thirumaavalavan’s stage?  On one day a few MDMK functionaries approached me, but what could have happened if Vaiko himself had come?  Why did he not come?  What prevented him?  As a whole, the ADMK is a large party that controls just over twenty-four to twenty-five percent of the vote bank, but it has landed itself in a situation where it is impaired and cannot support Eelam altogether.  What is the cause of this?  Has Jayalalitha adopted an inimical stance on the issue of Tamil Eelam?  What was Jayalalitha doing at that time?  She was inviting Congress to form a coalition.

Was Eelam not continuously burning then?  Was it not?  Was ethnic genocide not being conducted at that time?  Was it not?  Regardless, did the ADMK not express a desire at that time to join the Congress coalition?  Did Veerappa Mouyli not issue an antagonizing statement?  Did he not?  On that matter, did the PMK never reached a decision?  Our hunger strike was conducted in this context.  If we created this situation, if we transformed it into a dominant issue, if we stoked the flame, we would have turned Tamil Nadu politics on its head!

On the fourth day, after our struggle completed once again tranquility was established in Tamil Nadu.  At that time the DMK announced, ‘We will resign as members of parliament’.  As soon as the DMK issued that announcement, the PMK could have released a similar announcement; the MDMK could have issued a similar announcement.  The MDMK has two MPs in Parliament.  Two MDMK MPs had gone to the DMK.  All that remained were two MPs in Parliament.  Why can they not say, ‘We will resign two parliamentary posts?’  What is holding them back?  Will they not act because the decision was issued by the DMK?  Are they doing nothing because if two MPs resign then we cannot stop the war?  What is the reason?  So, two MDMK MPs joined the DMK and submitted their resignations.  Two parliamentary members of the MDMK remain.  If the MDMK announces, ‘We will resign our posts’, would that not create a crisis for the DMK?  The ADMK did not have any parliamentarians in the lower house.  It has parliamentarians in the state assembly.  If the ADMK resigns posts in the state assembly, would that not transform into a crisis for the DMK?  If the ADMK had resigned and if the DMK did not also come forward to resign would it not have been an embarrassing moment for the DMK?  The PMK has occupied a seat in the central ministry for five years!  Was Eelam not burning throughout the time?  Was ethnic genocide not being conducted throughout that time?  Were rivers of blood not flowing?  Were the tears of Eelam Tamils not gushing forth like a river?  Until the very end the PMK remained in the Congress coalition!

Regardless of the decision taken by the PMK it would be acceptable to Tamil scholars and Tamil nationalists inside of Tamil Nadu.  For these individuals, it is alright if the PMK remains with Congress up to the end of the conflict.  It is also acceptable if they join the DMK camp; it is also acceptable if they join the ADMK camp.  But, if people like us reach a similar decision is a time of crisis, they will severely rebuke us!  I do not understand their approach!  While a race is being eradicated, how can you retain a post in the Congress’ central ministry until the very end?  Can anyone compel the PMK to answer this question?  While a race is being annihilated, how can you retain your posts in the central ministry?  Did no one think to say, ‘You should resign’?  As soon as the DMK announced that all parliamentarians will resign, if the PMK submits resignations would that not have become a crisis for the DMK?  In these circumstances, on January 29th, our younger brother Muthukumar wailed, “Oh Fate, what have you done to the Tamil race, to my Tamil race!”  I wonder if the hunger strike conducted by Thirumaavalavan had ignited a fire, would our younger brother Muthukumar not have altered his decision?  We anticipated that the Tamil country’s blood would be brought to a boil due to Thirumaavalavan’s hunger strike, but only the Panthers rose up; no one else burst forth.  Muthukumar might have despaired, ‘no other movement rose up.’  I think that brought him great disappointment.  This suggests that our younger brother Muthukumar expected that DMK parliamentarians and other parties’ parliamentarians will resign.  Even still, this did not happen.

Under these circumstances, Muthukumar contemplated deeply and reached his decision.  He believed that through sacrificing his life he could create an uprising in the Tamil country.  On the basis of that belief, he wrote a suicide note.  He recorded everything in that suicide note.  Recently one comrade asked me about that note, ‘If Muthukumar mentioned the hunger fast led by law college students in his note and mentioned your name on the occasion of his death, would he not also refer to your hunger strike?  Who released this note?  The hunger strike of the law students is a continuation of the hunger strike conducted by Thirumaavalavan!  Since Muthukumar wrote about the hunger strike conducted by law college students in Chengelpattu, did he not also reference our hunger strike that rattled the world’s Tamils? Did he not repeatedly attempt to create an emotional upheaval, to raise the heat in Tamil politics?  If he did not believe in you when he died, why would he chant your name up to his death?’  One comrade raised such questions.  While sitting on this stage today and rereading that suicide note, that comrade’s questions returned to my mind.

While our party’s general secretary Kalaikkoottudhayam was speaking he said, “Muthukumar was not a Dalit; He was born in the Nadar community.”  When the doctor asked him on his final day, ‘What did you want to say and to whom?’ he did not think about his mother, his father or his immediate relatives.  He was not worried that his life was drawing to a close.  He responded, “Tell elder brothers Prabhakaran and Thirumaavalavan about my death.”  There was so much conviction in that younger brother’s heart.  That is the grandest of convictions; how am I going to provide a return for his conviction?  I do not know.  His suicide note expressed thoughts that could have been from great freedom fighters.

He made a request to the younger generation working the police department and encouraged law college students and lawyers take his body and continue the struggle.  He requested, ‘Youth in the police department (vocative), you all joined this department having been touched by good will and with the intent that you must do something for the people and for this country; you should not view your position in such a way that you must work as slaves for the ruling class; do this if you can.’  Muthukumar told the younger generation in the police department, ‘You can expose the extent to which activities of people in intelligence branches RAW and CBI operate against Eelam; you should not assist them.’

Having seen all of the foreigners living in the Tamil Nadu, Muthukumar said, ‘Foreign people living in Tamil Nadu (vocative), you will not find a place anywhere else like Tamil Nadu.   Here, you may live freely and acquire personal wealth and property, you may roam with titles like Settu and Maarvaadi and you will not require protection or experience any major difficulties.  Having understood the sentiments of the Tamil people who offer such security to the people who hail from your native state, you should speak justly about our national race’s liberation struggle.  Muthukumar wrote all of these things in that suicide note.

You can see the just reason in his agony.  Among all of the other states aside from Tamil Nadu, no person struggles for and supports the liberation of Eelam.  Are protests being staged in Kerala?  Are protests being staged in Andhra?  Are protests being staged in Karnataka?  Has anyone condemned the ethnic genocide conducted in Eelam on a humanitarian basis?  Aside from Tamil Nadu, none among the other thirty states in India have conducted supporting demonstrations.

Throughout the world there are so many ethnic liberation movements.  India used to echo its concern for such movements throughout the world.  Is there not support for Yasser Arafat here?  Has support not multiplied here for Nelson Mandela?  There is support here for so many liberation movements throughout the world that fight against imperialism.  When Saddam Hussein was hung, the Liberation Panthers took to the streets and struggled alongside Muslims; we vocalized our opposition.  There was support for Saddam Hussein here; there was support for Osama Bin Laden here; there was support for Yasser Arafat here; there was support for Nelson Mandela here; there was support for the Vietnam War here!  But on Indian soil there are not supporting protests or humanitarians entering the streets in support for Tamil Eelam!

Jayalalitha said, ‘The Tigers must lay down their weapons’.  But if this were to happen, is it reasonable for only the Sinhalese to bear armaments?  He [Muthukumar] criticized Jayalalitha on this point.  He directed a question toward the international community.  He directed a question toward Barrack Obama.  He bemoaned, ‘How can this world stand by as passive witnesses?’  India on the other hand is conducting a deceptive and conniving war against Eelam.  China provides weapons; Pakistan provides weapons, Israel provides weapons.  Everyone supports the Sinhalese.  Why is only our race being annihilated?  Muthukumar asked, ‘Obama, do you not have any human sympathy?  Why will you not intervene and stop this war?’  Ban Ki-moon, the current chairman of the United Nations, hails from China.  Muthukumar stated that because Ban Ki-moon supports the Chinese government, he is against Eelam Tamils.  Muthukumar listed fourteen demands in that suicide note.  Among them, he demanded that Ban Ki-moon should not be the general secretary of the United Nations; he must be replaced.

Having finalized his plans and solidified his resolve, the Black Tiger Muthukumar stood before Sastri Bhavan, distributed his suicide note to people on their way to work and then self-immolated.  He was not overcome with emotion; was not in a volatile mental state!  For Eelam Tamils, for the uprising of the world’s Tamil race, for the redemption of Tamils, for the liberation of Tamil Eelam, he carefully planned, hardened his resolve and decided to give up his life for these things.  So, the Liberation Panthers praise him as Tamil Nadu’s Black Tiger!

The Black Tigers are the most elite among the Liberation Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are male Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are female Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are Ground Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are Air Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are Sea Tigers!  Among the Liberation Tigers there are Black Tigers!  Also female Tigers are Black Tigers.  They carry weapons with precision and confront their enemies head-on on the battlefield!  In only a short time they crush the enemy line and drive them away, but sometimes a stronger weapon is necessary to drive away enemies.  That is the weapon of the human body!  The Black Tigers convert themselves into human weapons!

Who are the Black Tigers?  Only Prabhakaran knows the individuals who have been transformed into Black Tigers.  No one else knows.  If a decision is taken to complete an objective in a designated place, an order will come for a Black Tiger.  They will go with a body laden with explosives and self-detonate.  As soon as the enemy comprehends that when the human bomb detonates he will shatter into human splinters, they [Black Tigers] detonate and shatter into pieces.  They select only individuals with the strongest of wills to become Black Tigers.  There are also women in this unit.

Captain Millar, a native of Nelliyadi, was the first to transform himself into a human weapon and become a Black Tiger!  At that time there were not many weapons among the Tigers.  Under those circumstances Captain Millar transformed into a human weapon.  While carrying explosives on his body, he detonated himself in camps housing Sinhala soldiers.  Hundreds upon hundreds of Sinhala thugs became casualties and the Sinhala military retreated.  Captain Millar was the first Black Tiger to transform into a human weapon.

On the evening before completing their mission, the Black Tigers sit, speak, laugh and feast with Prabhakaran before receiving his kiss.  That brave soldier who had taken the decision that he will go to die feasts that evening with Prabhakaran as they joyfully exchange stories.  Then he will take leave.  The gift that is available for him is a kiss [from Prabhakaran].  Prabhakaran places a kiss upon him and bids him farewell; after that, he will not return.  He will ensure that the objective is achieved.

In that manner, Prabhakaran raised these young men and women with affection and christened them with the title of ‘Black Tiger’ as they possess a strong and unwavering conviction as they transform their body into a human weapon.

While I was on the Island of Mullai in 2001, the Black Tigers were conducting a parade on the seashore in which approximately five hundred individuals participated.  They conducted the parade with their eyes closed carrying their guns in their hands.  I watched this while standing on the sea shore.  I cannot even describe how my mind felt at that time.  The Liberation Tigers attained great achievements because of these Black Tigers.

In the tradition of the Black Tigers, our affectionate younger brother Muthukumar wrote a suicide note, set fire to his body, chanted, ‘May Eelam prevail!’ and died; he was not overwhelmed with emotion at that moment!  Because of this the Liberation Panthers christened Muthukumar as Tamil Nadu’s Black Tiger.

Has our younger brother’s dream become reality?  Has a revolution been incited in Tamil Nadu?  In the time in between, what efforts have we taken?  Since 2006 the Liberation Panthers have maintained a place in the DMK coalition, but there are a few people thinking that this will not be the case in the coming election.  Even from the DMK coalition we joined hands for a period of six months with parties and movements in the ADMK coalition for the sake of preventing the genocide being conducted in Eelam, for the Eelam Tamils and for Eelam, we collaborated together through the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement!

On January 10th the executive council meeting was skipped, an additional meeting planned for January 12th was also skipped.  After that by the efforts of the Communist Party’s chairman Thaa. Pandiyan, a executive meeting was organized.  We were not invited to the meeting.  Having spoken with the PMK founder on our own, we forced our way to participate in that meeting.  In that meeting we created the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement.

Then, I stated that we can use the name, ‘Eelam Tamil Protection Movement’.  He said, if you use phrase ‘Eelam Tamil” the Communist parties will not lend their support because they do not accept Eelam; they accept only a united Sri Lanka.  So, if we say ‘Eelam Tamil’ they will not accept this, they will only accept it if we say ‘Lankan Tamil’.  They could not accept the phrase ‘Eelam Tamil’ even for name’s sake; this is the Communists’ position!

Through the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement we traversed the stretches of Tamil Nadu.  People such as Chennai Amareesan, Pallippatti Ravi, Chiirkaazhi Ravichandhiran, Cuddalore Tamilveendhan, and Chennai Ezhinbalavan continuously gave fire and sacrificed their lives.  We participated in each of their cremations.  We did not worry about the coalition. But, in the end, what actually became of our efforts?  I said, “The Liberation Panthers, MDMK, Tamil nationalist organizations having joined together under the PMK’s leadership can form an independent front.  Even if we fail, we need not worry.”  They did not come.  On the contrary, efforts were taken to buttress Jayalalitha.  Even though the Tamil race was being annihilated, they were not concerned.  They entered the political field in an effort to bolster Jayalalitha.  But, Jayalalitha have never, not even on a single day, supported Eelam.

When bombs were dropped on Senjoolai, we were in the ADMK coalition.  Even then she did not sympathize [with the Senjoolai Tamils] and never released a statement.  On my birthday I conducted a hunger strike in front of the Valluvar memorial.  Upon completing that hunger strike, I saw Jayalalitha and I appealed her, “As a woman you should at least proclaim your condemnation considering that they killed tender girls.”  She accepted my request and released a statement.  Jayalalitha is not one who has the heart to condemn the deaths of even very young girls.

In circumstances such as these, I refused to accept that I must support her (Jayalalitha).  So I said, ‘we must mobilize an independent front.’  Without offering any cooperation for my efforts, they [the aforementioned parties] worked to buttress Jayalalitha.  Because of that, I announced that I would contest elections independently.  Many comrades asked in shock, ‘Again, independently?  In 1999 they defeated us.  In 2004 they defeated us.  In 1999 we received 2.25 lakh votes; in 2004 we received 2.5 lakh votes.  But still, people do not respect us [as a political force].’

[The naysayers said,] ‘If we contest independently this time, we will forfeit our chance for victory.  In Tamil Nadu no one, not even those with Tamil nationalist sentiments will vote for us.  In 2004 the Tamil nationalist movements produced propaganda for the PMK candidate Ponnusaami; at that time what Tamil nationalists produced propaganda that supported us even though we continuously raised our voice in support of Eelam and Tamil nationalism?  Did NedumaaRan come forward?  Did Subavii come forward?  Did Thiyaahu come forward?  Did any Tamil scholars come forward?  They requested votes for Ponnusaami who never, not even on a solitary occasion, spoke about Eelam Tamils.  But regardless, they stood against you.  You are mistaken to think that by speaking about Tamil during the election season, by speaking about Tamil nationalism, by speaking about Eelam Tamils, all the people who hold strong Tamil sentiments in Tamil Nadu will cast their vote for you.  During elections they will be caste fanatics, not Tamil nationalists.

You should reconsider contesting independently.  If you do not join the ADMK coalition, then join the DMK coalition.  They said, ‘We dare you to follow through with this decision [to run independently].’  In that context and despite pressure from Congress the DMK chairman Kalaignar said that on the basis of mutually shared principles there is a place in the coalition for the Liberation Panthers.  Kalaignar said, ‘We never thought that Thirumaavalavan left us; he is among us.’  Do you know why?  At that time Congress Party members E.V.K.S. Elangovan and Thangabaalu accepted and firmly held onto their position, they worked intensely to expel the Liberation Panthers from the coalition.  Veluur Gnanasekaran was pleading so much; he tried to speak in the assembly; he proclaimed ‘Expel Thirumaavalavan!’ but regardless, Kalaignar said, “A political alliance has existed between the Liberation panthers and ourselves since 2006. We share common political principles including caste annihilation and socialist politics; we do not think that they left us; we will continue our alliance.”

After that announcement we decided to not contest independently.  Because of this, did we go against the whole of Eelam?  Could the war be stopped if Thirumaavalavan enters the ADMK coalition?  Could we have ended the war without forming the Congress government in New Delhi?  Could we have impacted Tamil Nadu politics if we joined the ADMK coalition?

They are not concerned about the annihilation of a race; they are not concerned about the annihilation of Eelam; they are preoccupied with defeating the DMK.  Is every person in that coalition actually opposed to the Congress government?  Is it not true that the PMK was once allied with Congress?  Is it not true that the MDMK and the ADMK were allied with Congress at one point?  Regardless, they slander the Liberation Panthers [for our alliance with the DMK which places us in the Congress coalition].

The war ended on May 17th.  Three and a half lakh Tamils are being detained in internment camps.  More than fifty thousand Tamils have been killed.  In this circumstance the opposition party, the ADMK, and the MDMK and PMK that are in the opposition camp could have struggled intensely; who prevented them?  We are in the ruling party’s coalition.  Why are they hesitating?

Jayalalitha vacated Tamil Nadu and relaxed in Kooda Nadu [in Andhra Pradesh] for six months following the election.  Will she even speak about Eelam on a single day?  Since May 15th, 16th and 17th, in that three day span, fifty-thousand Tamils were killed!  If she has even a single strand of compassion in her heart would she not have release an announcement condemning this?  Did the MDMK and PMK, who are a part of that alliance, protest intensely in the wake of this tragedy?  Again, tranquility returned to Tamil Nadu.  The Liberation Panthers is the movement that disrupted the tranquility!

The Liberation Panthers shattered the tranquility and organized a conference titled the ‘Tamil Eelam Rising’.  You might imagine that Tamil Eelam vanished on August 17th [following the formal defeat of the Tamil Tigers].  But, the Liberation Panthers has officially proclaimed, ‘Tamil Eelam will rise again!’

Now, a note about the Tamil Nadu Police Department and in particular about the police in Chennai.  What did the Chennai City Police Department do during that period?  Within an hour they defaced all of our publicity (digitally produced banners) in Chennai.  More than two thousand digital banners were torn up!  When we inquired why, they responded, ‘They were ripped up because they feature a picture of Thirumaavalavan looking like Prabhakaran.’  I was not worried about that.  We conducted the conference; we passed a resolution in that conference!  After the elections, even while in an alliance, even after we are victorious, the Liberation Panthers will organize a conference supporting Eelam.

Comrades, because the Liberation Panthers continue to support Tamil Eelam in this manner we have received various criticisms.  In particular, all of the Dalit movements are severely criticizing the Liberation Panthers.  They are all saying, ‘Thirumaavalavan does not speak about Dalit [issues]; he speaks only about Eelam.’  Today provides an opportune moment and they have come here to join us in protest.  They are producing according propaganda; they are printing such digital banners.  Today we have once again taken this stance and we are raising our voices in protest.

Because I am a Member of Parliament a place was available for me in that [fact finding] team.  Because of that we went to Vavuniyaa; we went to Jaffna.  Afterwards we met Rajapaksa and other prominent officials.  Do you think that I should go stand next to Rajapaksa with an AK-47 in my hand?  A few people criticized me by posing questions such as, ‘In what manner did you shake his hand?  Why did you greet him with a smile?’

Even members of parliament from the National Tamil Council are meeting with Rajapaksa.  They are advancing their demands.  Isn’t there a custom to be followed?  Without meeting Raajapaksa, how could we enter the camps?  Without being an MP, how can I secure a place as a member of the Parliamentary Committee and go to Eelam?  My post as an MP enabled me to join as a member of the Parliamentary Committee and travel to Eelam.  Because I went I was able to see the people there.  Because I saw and spoke with the people, I was able to comprehend the ground reality and bring out the truth; I wrote a series of articles called ‘Mulvali’; I released a video titled ‘VadhakkuRaangalayyaa’.

Because I was among the members of the committee, they said that everything was ruined.  Tamil nationalists in Tamil Nadu are continuously echoing this criticism.  ‘How can Thirumaavalavan sit with Douglas Theevaanandhaa?’  He came and sat down next to me, what can I do?  Can I place my hands around his throat and shove him saying, “Get lost!”  Rajapaksa saw me, smiled and shook my hand!  Can I not greet him in that situation?  Can I greet you without offering my hand?  Isn’t this customary behavior?  Indeed, he is a murderer, but his hand controls Sri Lanka.  Indeed, he is a racist, but he rules Sri Lanka.  Indeed, he is an enemy of the Tamil people who conducted genocide, but there are three lakh people in camps under his custody.  I must approach him.  Without his approval, how can we see [the ground reality in Eelam]?

Obviously, let’s say that a younger brother is in prison, even if the prison guard is a caste fanatic, we can enter the prison only upon receiving his permission.  The guard is a caste fanatic, but I am not going ot visit him.  If I am to enter inside to see my younger brother, how can I arrange this?   If the guard gives permission, I can see him.  A few idiots who do not understand this are saying, ‘Thirumaavlavan saw and greeted Rajapaksa’.  Did I go for a marriage proposal?  People there did not know who I am, but Rajapaksa knew.  When all of the Members of Parliament arrived, Rajapaksa took my hand, turned toward T.R. Baalu and said, “Do you know [him]?  He is a very close person to Prabhakaran.  He is fortunate not to have been with Prabhakaran at the time of his death.”  Rajapaksa knew that on that team there were four representatives of the Congress Party and five representatives of the DMK, but Thirumaavalavan alone was the representative of the Tigers!  Rajapaksa understood this.

We must conduct politics with people of this nature.  They test our honesty.  They test our determination.  For twenty-five years since my days in law school, from the time my activism increased and I committed myself to enter politics, I have been continually protesting: ‘Eelam!  Eelam!’

Up to the present day countless individuals have spoken a fervent brand of Tamil nationalism.  Now, if you visit the cheris, will you find Tamil nationalism?  Today every youth in the cheri has been transformed into a Tiger.  It is not a picture of Thirumaavalavan on the Liberation Panthers’ cell phones, it is a picture of his Excellency Prabhakaran!  Thirumaavalavan is the man who ushered in this great transformation!

There may be individuals in Tamil Nadu politics speaking about Eelam; they may be people raising their voice in protest for Eelam, but among all of these people the Liberation Panthers and Thirumaavalavan instilled fervent support for Eelam among the common people!  No one can deny this!  Whether good or bad and to the distain of many people, I am a member of parliament.  It is only when someone reminds me that I realize I am an MP.

The Tamil National Council supported Sarath Fonseka in the Sri Lankan election; was that a wise decision?  Was that a reasonable decision?  Is Sarath Fonseka himself a good man?  Even if this is so, should the council have made this decision?  Why did they make this decision?  This itself leads down the same path.  What alternative paths are available?  One man is Raajapaksa, the other man is Sarath Fonseka!  This man is a murderer, but that man is also a murderer!  Who can support either of these men?  Without supporting someone, it is useless.  This is also the reason that the Liberation Panthers continue in an alliance with the DMK; is this a crime?

The thousands upon thousands of comrades participating in this meeting today have not come in memory of caste annihilation revolutionaries!  This public meeting is conducted in memory of a brother who was a non-Dalit comrade that forfeited his life in the struggle for Eelam liberation.  But moreover, the Liberation Panthers who are the light of my life have mobilized themselves in many thousands here!  This is the truth.  We are not worried about any criticism that people might offer.  Every day, we Liberation Panther are united firmly under the principle of Eelam liberation!

I am still grappling with the news that Veeluppillai, the father of the Tamil Eelam national leader [Prabhakaran], has died.  As soon as I received the news, I thought that I must go there [Sri Lanka].  But they said, ‘if you come you will be deported’.  Without taking heed, I rose up and went there.  I was able to go without even the slightest problem.

I received consolation as two tears fell from my eyes while I was standing alongside the head of the great hero Veeluppillai who himself beget a great hero.  Having touched the feet of Veeluppillai, the father of a great hero and a great hero himself, and having touched the feet of Prabhakaran’s mother who bore him, I paid my respect and took leave.  One brother from Valvettidhurai asked why I stepped aside.  He said, ‘Come and take a pot of water; like a son you should perform this duty’ and then he placed a water pot in my hand.  I performed these rites according to Saiva custom.

As a member of parliament on the parliamentary committee I was provided protection.  But on this occasion, I was not permitted to make requests [for a security detail].  I knew anything could happen.  I knew some people here would be happy if I died, but I did not worry about this.  No one else would have gone without a security detail!  Many people were happy thinking that the story had finished.  Without worrying about that, I went.

When I went to honor the deaths of the Plantation Party’s foremost leader Chandhirasekaran and Veeluppilai, I did not travel with the protection accorded to a member of parliament.  I got up and left as an ordinary Tamil.  No protection is available for me.  No sort of assurance was available for my protection.  In Tamil Nadu there are many groups.  No matter who, no matter what, anything can happen.  I had the courage and embarked on the journey because that is my duty.

If you ask, why is it necessary for me to explain all of these things?  It is necessary because a few people challenge the intensity of Tamil nationalism among the Liberation Panthers.  I am not worried about those who challenge us on this issue.  I am worried about my dear brothers.

Comrade Kalaikkoottudhayam stated here that because Thirumaavalavan stands resolutely in the field of Tamil nationalism, ‘Not only today, but always Thirumaavalavan is my leader’.  Moreover, he stated that we all already understand this.  This awareness won’t fade, it won’t become dull, the Liberation Panthers’ foremost principles are those of caste annihilation and Tamil nationalism.  In recent days seventeen people forfeited their lives with Tamil Nadu’s Black Tiger Muthukumar.  Among those seventeen people, three of them were Liberation Panthers!  Four people including our brother Kadhirveelai died while in prison.  The Liberation Panthers have made contributions to this extent in the field of Tamil nationalism.

While I was engaged in the hunger strike, twenty-six people were imprisoned under the Goondas Prevention – National Security Act for creating a law and order problem; because of that, we are distributing honorary certificates today.  Even though they had many cases lodged before this, even though they endured countless oppressive measures levied against them, our comrades are making great contributions in the struggle for Eelam liberation.  Because of this and while keeping Muthukumar in memory, we honor all of them today.   All of these dear brothers have stood their ground and went to jail for normal actions that often elicited oppressive measures.  April 14th is Revolutionary Ambedkar’s birthday, on that day we will celebrate and distribute honorary certificates.

We offered two lakh rupees to the family of our brother Muthukumar who forfeited his own life in the struggle for the liberation of Eelam, we announced that one lakh rupees will be allotted to each family that did not receive money from the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement and twenty-five thousand rupees will be allotted to those who previously received funds.  On this basis, we will distribute funds on our party’s behalf of approximately ten lakh rupees in this manner to [the families of] all Black Tigers in Tamil Nadu who sacrificed themselves for this cause.  Today three and a half lakh rupees has already been distributed.  The remaining funds will be distributed upon searching for and locating the family members of these individuals.  I salute everyone including all of Tamil Nadu’s Black Tigers such as Muthukumar.  Thank you.

Whose names are kept on the police department’s ‘list of rowdies’?

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Whose names are kept on the police department’s ‘list of rowdies’? 

This speech was delivered by Thirumaavalavan at a condemnation rally organized in Chengalpattu on December 12, 2007

My dear Liberation Panthers, who are the light of my life, I express my humble greetings to all of you.

The mass of people gathered here today stands as evidence of the extremely severe, repressive measures taken by the police department in Kanchipuram district.  Not only youth have gathered here to vent their fury at the police department; but also hundreds upon hundreds of women have gathered here.  This condemnation protest has been conducted in major cities throughout Tamil Nadu.

You might ask, ‘for what purpose has this demonstration been organized?  Are the Liberation Panthers staging a demonstration against someone to secure posts in the ruling party’s coalition?  Is this demonstration against the DMK government?  Is this demonstration against Kalaignar whose authority extends over the police department?’  Questions such as these might have been raised.  Recently Kalaignar summoned the upper echelon of the police department to a private meeting.  Why was this meeting convened?  Recently, the ruling party’s Tiruvaaruur district secretary, Puundi Kalaichelvan, was brutally murdered by a gang of rowdies while he was in his own home.  He was not the district secretary of the opposition party; he was not a district secretary of a Dalit party like the Liberation Panthers.  He was a district secretary in the ruling DMK party!  While he was staying in his own home in the presence of an armed policeman assigned to protect him a mob of rowdies launched crude bombs and murdered him.  Is this not an affront to the chief minister’s authority?  In the wake of this violence we offered the following suggestion to the Tamil Nadu government:  “A separate security force is required to monitor those who engage in activities inimical to the people such as unrestrained caste and religious fanaticism.  A separate security force is necessary within this department to enforce disciplinary measures against offenders.”  We released this demand.  Moreover, we must crush the mercenary-force culture of these rowdy gangs.  If money is paid today, a mercenary force is ready to attack the leaders of political parties, to murder business magnates, to kidnap and hold their children for ransom.  Individuals of this nature are present in a sizable number in Tamil Nadu and disciplinary measures are not being taken against them.  So, we suggested that people engaging in this mercenary gang culture must be monitored and their activities crushed.

There should be a separate force responsible for monitoring caste and religious fanaticism; there should be a special force to monitor this mercenary-force culture.  The Q Branch functions independently for the purpose of curtailing Naxalite activities.  They have no other work on their agenda.  Their surveillance agents are somewhere at this meeting.  ‘Have any extremists come to meet Thirumaavalavan?  Have any Naxalites come?  Have any Liberation Tigers come?’  Q Branch agents have come here with the hope of capturing these individuals.

Rowdies conspired and planned communal riots and then conducted them in broad daylight in Coimbatore.  If a surveillance department is in place to monitor such fanatics, it could prevent these types of activities.

No one secretly plotted in the middle of the night to burn the cheris; they conspired in broad daylight!  They arrived in vehicles and set the cheris ablaze.  Certain miscreants plan those arsons, so when they occur we need to nail down the individuals who incite them.  If we take disciplinary actions against them, this behavior will not continue.

At the time I announced an independent surveillance department must be created for this purpose, Tamil Nadu’s chief minister Kalaignar convened an executive meeting at St. George’s Fort in Chennai; he summoned all the top officials and issued an order.  What did he order?  He said to cripple the activities of the rowdies.  This order, which he issued to the top echelon of the police department, did not instruct them to crush the Dalits and the Liberation Panthers; it commanded them to crush the rowdies!  But, this begs the question, ‘who are the rowdies?’  Is the definition of ‘rowdy’ not written in the law?  Do the police officials not know?  The chief minister ordered that anyone identified a rowdy should be crushed.  Just opposite to this order officials in the police department lodged cases against innocent Dalit youth, placed their names on the list of rowdies, arrested and tortured them!  They recorded their finger prints; they snapped their mug shots.  They did these sorts of things and compiled this type of information in individual records.  This is such cruelty!

[To the Police] Who bestowed upon you the authority to brand simple individuals hailing from an oppressed society and leading common lives as ‘rowdies’?  There are two reasons that this behavior continues.  One reason is the police department’s impotence; another is the influence of caste fanaticism pervading within the police department!  Because of these two reasons this situation continues to perpetuate.

There is an implicit agreement between individuals in the police department and gangs inimical to society.  The police officer, under a pretext of mutual understanding, will inform the collaborator, ‘I will arrest you at some point this month, but it’s merely for the sake of appearances!  Afterward you can leave on bail and for two or three months I will not trouble you and then after two or three months I will arrest you again for the sake of appearances!’  This is the implicit agreement between officials in the police department and guilty individuals.  No one can deny this; if a false case is lodged against anyone, the officials in the police department will detain a few of their collaborators who will provide false testimony.  These collaborators are referred to as ‘friends of the police department’ or ‘affectionate ones’.  These individuals have become necessary for the police department because they provide false testimony and serve the needed time [in prison] or they provide information about wanted individuals.

Selvapperundahai, our member of the legislative assembly who spoken here, was falsely charged with stealing Rs50.  The police do not even have the commonsense required to convincingly concoct a false case against him!

From all of this, I can ascertain that police officials act with impotence.  I can say this because they are not able to catch the true culprits.  But, there is a reason for that.  They maintain good relations with the actual culprits; sometimes there is even a blood relation!

Meticulous records are kept in the district police archives that detail the persons who have perpetrated crimes such as rapes and murders.  There are also individuals that will steal anything by any method.  The name for this is ‘modus operandi’!  Some individuals will steal wrist watches, some individuals will only steal jewelry, some individuals will rape and murder women.

On so many different occasions theft has been committed in these ways.  These practices exist in every police department!  Some of the individuals who operate with this mentality don khaki shirts!

Our objective is not to slander the entire police department!  There are so many upstanding officers.  There are officers who operate with a democratic and even-handed approach.  But regardless of these individuals there is sufficient proof to demonstrate that within the police department there are individuals under the sway of caste fanaticism, individuals under the sway of religious fanaticism and individuals with a criminal mindset.

Comrade Illan Che Guevara who came and sat here handed me a note.  He wrote that today in the Vadappallani police station a forty year old man named Mohammad Saiyath has been beaten and murdered.  In the capitol city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu’s very own capitol, if it is a continuous affair that youth are beaten and killed in the police station, if it is said that atrocities like this continually occur, then the police department’s savageness and barbarism still have not changed.  This is evident.  [To the Police] Go capture the rowdies!  That is the chief minister’s order; we welcome this!  But who qualifies as a rowdy?  He who routinely accepts bribes?  He who starts fights in the chief minister’s street?  He who harasses women?  He who conducts kangaroo courts?  He who brews illegal alcohol?  He who smuggles ganja?   These types of people are rowdies!  Who branded the youth who lead a simple life and serve the people as ‘rowdies’!  Those who hold political influence, those who were born into rich families, the children of business magnates, those who hail from upper caste communities, if disciplinary action is taken against any of these people threats will immediately pour through the telephone lines!  The police official who took disciplinary measures will be transferred to a different post.  So, police officials will not invest any effort to take disciplinary action against these types of persons.  On the contrary, they rashly lodge false cases against our youth and the Dalit people.  This is demonstrative of the police department’s impotence!  They will not invest any effort in taking disciplinary action against the actual culprits.  They say, ‘even if I take disciplinary action against the true perpetrators, political influence will intervene. Ministers will intervene.  If not, then district secretaries will intervene or former secretaries will intervene.’  But is this the reason that they persecute youth that hail from oppressed society?

Thirunaavukkarasu, a municipal leader who came from Padaalam Muhaam, had a false case lodged against him.  Both he and his elder brother were arrested!  But, how many non-Dalits have you arrested in this way?

Like comrade Ravikumar said, we are going to compile a record of this through the right to information act in order to make this information publically available.  Once we compile this information we will see how many people have been branded as rowdies in every district and how many people have been arrested.  We must record this information.

You may fear the consequences of taking disciplinary measures against caste Hindus, landowners and business magnates, but how can you permit the foisting of false cases against poor, modest Dalit youth?  This is demonstrative of the police department’s impotence!

Moreover, caste and religious-fanatic forces have infiltrated the police department!  It is misleading to think that simply because they don the khaki shirt they must act as per the law.  Upon the sight of oppressed youth their stomach burns, it grows irritated.  He who once wore a loin-cloth, who once grazed goats and cattle or performed slave labor today wears attractive clothing and exudes a dignified appearance; today he owns a cell phone; he utters words like ‘panther’ and ‘tiger’.  A few caste fanatics in this khaki clad gang continue to detain Liberation Panthers and innocent Dalit youth; they continue to foist false cases against them and torture them.

Some individuals spoke here today about Sunampedu village.  For more than five or six years the police department gutted the village without restraint and constantly intruded into its daily affairs.  In the aftermath of these atrocities, can that village even be considered a village anymore?  Sunampedu village provided a supporting structure for all of the hundreds of other villages in the area.  Without being able to bear this fact [that Sunampedu was a prosperous village that supported local Dalit communities], by the audacity of caste fanatics that cannot tolerate this, by the audacity of politicians, those in the police department invaded Sunampedu like an invasion of a foreign country.  The police force attacked innocent women and youth and left that village in ruins.

Are there not a few feuds in every village regarding appointments within the party?  Are there not feuds in Chengelpattu?  Do they not also exist in Chennai?  Are there district responsibilities for you?  For me?  Is there power for you?  For me?  Are you a big man?  Am I?  Feuds of this nature are present everywhere?

These feuds also exist in Sunampedu among our beloved brothers!  If you claim that no feud exists there, I will not believe you.  Local affiliates of the Liberation Panthers prevented the police from entering within the village.  Because of that, the police grew irate.  Do you know why?  The police officials did not think ‘we must stop them from brewing arrack there’; arrack is brewed in all villages, it is the norm, but arrack producers in Sunampedu refused to pay the bribe.  The Liberation Panthers are the reason for their refusal to pay the bribe.  This is the reason that the police grew irate!  I am speaking the truth; I would not do otherwise.

Is arrack not brewed in countless villages in this region by those who lack a source of income and employment opportunity?  People from every strata of society brew arrack; you cannot deny this!  It is true among Vanniyars, it is true among Dalits and it is true among other groups such as Reddys and Naidus. Those who are landless, those who lack a path to employment, those who lack sources of income, those who cannot work in agriculture; there are a few people like this in every village.

Also in Sunampedu there may be one or two families living in this condition.  While many local authorities would intimidate and rough them up in order to extract a bribe, the Liberation Panthers’ prominent leaders decided, ‘no one should ever brew arrack here; nor should the police ever enter here.  The police must never enter this village in the name of eradicating arrack!’  As I have said many times before, ‘once the Liberation Panthers assume authority we will stop anyone who produces arrack in our villages.’  Our comrades have gone to police stations and lodged complaints in the attempt to stop this practice.  Our cadre will do just that!  But some police officials want arrack to be produced.  These individuals join hands with their Dalit counterparts that also want arrack to be brewed.  These groups join together on this basis.

The feuds among our party cadre are being sharpened.  So, problems may arise between brothers [regarding inheritance issues], does jealousy not exist in every town?  Does it not exist in every family?  Are there not problems between in-laws in every town?  Do these problems not exist in every family?  If there is an in-law issue, or an inheritance issue, or even an internal party issue, a solution will eventually arise [and the issue will be resolved].  The police department meddled in these problems, the caste fanatics intervened, but for what reason?  They instigated the Dalits who wanted to brew arrack.  As a result of this two divisions emerged in Sunampedu among our cadre and our Dalit comrades clashed.  Today the situation has escalated in that village to the extent that a few Dalit individuals were forced to leave; but each and every one of them should be protected!  Who is responsible for this?  Of all the problems like this that have arisen in Sunampedu our Dalit brothers entangled in these issues will not even know who is responsible [for instigating the problem].  I am speaking from my experience of twenty-five years in public life, because of the police department’s intervention these feuds, these clashes and this enmity has occurred and still continues; the police department perpetuates these internal conflicts!  Because of that alone I have implored for solidarity between our Dalit brothers on both sides of the dispute.

Is bootleg only brewed in Sunampedu village of Kanchipuram district?  Do the records in your archives of crimes suggest that arrack is only brewed in this solitary village?  Do individuals from other social communities not also engage in a bootlegging profession?  In all other villages the practice of bribing local police officials in this way is routine, except the bribes were not paid in Sunampedu; that itself is the problem!  No one can deny this!  We are not saying this with the intent to slander the police department.  We are not saying this with the intent to justify the brewing of arrack.  We do not approve of this practice even in the slightest degree.  There are so many other Dalit movements and Dalit party leaders who may support these types of activities; they may associate with them; these leaders do not profess clear principles or ideology; they are individuals who do not possess a long-term perspective; they are not familiar with Revolutionary Ambedkar’s politics; they are the type of characters who conduct kangaroo courts.  Thirumaavalavan is not someone who leads a simple life as an unprincipled person.  He is not someone who keeps a few sycophants to conduct a kangaroo court, nor does he lead an immoral life.  Except for providing leadership on the basis of principle and ideology, I do not ever want to be a leader that encourages criminal behavior such as bootlegging or kangaroo courts regardless of the situation.

I cannot respond to this situation in Sunampedu by dismissing all youth from local VCK branch; but that village was ravaged by government violence, they are continually destroying that village!

Have the police ever under any circumstances entered within an agraharam?  On even just one occasion have the police entered in a Mudhaliyaar street or a Pillaimaar street?  Have the police ever entered into any other caste community’s street without the prior knowledge of the leader of that town or community?  Up to this point there is no record in the history of Tamil politics of the police department having entered any street occupied by caste Hindus and unleashed such atrocities.

The Vandhavaasi – Ponnuur cheri, the Kodaikkanal Gundupatti cheri, Theevaraam, Bodi, the Meenakshipuram cheri, the Okaluur cheri!  In a similar manner, the police have invaded so many cheris!  Sunampedu in just one of such examples!  There is no way to anticipate when or how frequently the police will come.

What is the reason for this repressive behavior?  The time of my grandfather was a period in which nothing was questionable [the police could conduct themselves however they wished]. But this is the age of the Liberation Panthers!  If one human being causes another human being to be stripped, then he is partially insane.  The culture where one human does not allow another human to be stripped, that is a high point of the Tamil peoples’ culture of propriety.  Among any other race in the world you cannot find a custom of putting a pipal leaf-shaped piece of jewelry on the waist of young girls [to cover their private parts]; you can observe this practice among the Tamil race.  This jewelry will even be placed on three month old children.  This has become a high point of Tamil culture.  But, he who beats and strips the young man who has barely grown a mustache is a fool whose brain has spoiled!

What did Sunampedu Chaarangan do?  He occupied a post in our party.  Even if he was indicted in a false case, he would turn himself in and provided the appropriate information.  Or just arrest and incarcerate him.  For what reason would you (the police) strip and beat [him]?  Of all the cases lodged by caste fanatics against the oppressed people, how many false cases have you [police] lodged in this way?  You entered inside Sunampedu and deployed oppressive force against the Liberation Panthers yelling, ‘Repress them! Beat them!’

Kadhirvaanan, who served as district organizer for more than ten years in Cuddalore district, Thamzhanpan, one of our western district secretaries, Alexander, who is a member of the Thittakudi taluk council, Chellappan, who is the Chidambaram city general secretary, Karuna, who is the city secretary of Thaaraapram next to Coimbatore, Eezhavalavan, who is the Naagappattinam district organizer, Arasan, who is the Thanjavur district organizer; (to the police) in your perspective are all of these people ‘rowdies’?

The Liberation Panthers are conducting this demonstration to condemn these oppressive measures perpetrated on the basis of individual caste prejudice within the police department.

This morning former chief minister Jayalalitha released a statement claiming, ‘The Liberation Panthers is the party that helps buttress the DMK government.’  If we are a party that blindly supports the DMK, why are we organizing a demonstration today against the DMK?  Why are we spearheading a demonstration against the police department?  Why are we organizing a demonstration today against the police department that is under the chief minister’s control?  Along with these things, it is alleged that a few Liberation Tigers were captured in Tamil Nadu; it is alleged that the Liberation Panthers aid the Liberation Tigers; it is alleged that the Liberation Panthers send spare motorboat parts; it is alleged that the communists send assistance; it is alleged that because of this authorities arrested Vanni Arasu on the tenth.  After participating in a flag hoisting function on seashore in Chengalpattu district, I participated in a hero’s salute organized in Thiruppoor.

But, shouldn’t she (Jayalalitha), having served as chief minister for ten years, issue more responsible statements?  It was alleged that I met the chief minister (Karunanidhi) within a few hours of Vanni Arasu’s arrest and supposedly requested his release!  Some people might ask, ‘what is the worry for us’?  What worries us is that even if we are in the ruling party’s coalition, it is widely known that Q Branch agents will relentlessly suppress us; they will maliciously foist false cases upon our comrades!  So, we are continually agonizing, ‘what is the use of being in the ruling party’s coalition?’  I participated in the Tirupooruur public meeting, how could I have met the chief minister in only a few hours time following the arrest of Vanni Arasu?  They kept Vanni Arasu in an abandon building and threatened him demanding, “You must write and provide testimony as we instruct you.”  All intelligence branches inclusive of the Q Branch and the Intelligence Bureau conduct inquiries independently.  They will make threats such as ‘we will make you give the following in writing: “I smuggled weapons to Sri Lanka as per Thirumaavalavan’s request.”’  If Vanni Arasu had provided a statement such as this, it would have instilled within me a great sense of pride.

But Vanni Arasu did not provide statements like this!  At least if he had relented and submitted to their demands it would have been formally recorded in the historical record that I smuggled weapons against the Sinhalese government!  Although, I will be arrested if I smuggle weapons for the purpose of Eelam!  I still expect that they will arrest me, but so far that has not happened.

We are merely giving moral support for Eelam; what else can we do?  Tamils cannot help the Tigers in any other way.  You may ask, ‘why will they not approach people like us?’   Individuals who participate in the Naxalbari struggle and other liberation movements will select only the most suitable persons.  They will not select people like Thirumaavalavan.  Why do they not prefer prominent individuals?  Those who have an interested in self-publicity; those who desire to be praised; those with an inclination toward boasting; those who are constantly beating their own drum.  All of these kinds of personalities exist.  If these types of individual do one good thing, they will speak as if they did ten.

Even if there are individuals present here affiliated with the People’s War Party established in Andhra, the Marxist-Leninist movement, or other liberation movements such as the Palestinian liberation movement or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, who among us would they recruit?  They would recruit the type of individuals who do not open their mouths, who avoid the spotlight; liberation movements will only recruit these types of people.

A person who is presently in Norway once shared a prison cell with Vanni Arasu in Madurai.  Because they shared a prison cell they developed a friendship.  Vanni Arasu has confirmed his friendship with this man.  It is alleged that that man supplied the Tigers with motorboat parts through Vanni Arasu.  Even the Tigers do not want these kinds of activities; also, even if this happened on one occasion, it is not a crime against the Indian government.  Regardless, if one person sends machinery from here, or if he sends a boat or some medicine; aside from these items being used against the Sinhala government, how could such activities be against the Indian government?

Former chief minister Jayalalitha released a statement claiming, ‘the Liberation Panthers function as a support group for the Liberation Tigers.’  She released such blasphemous statements completely devoid of evidence to be used to topple the DMK government from power.

When a package arrived from Norway, Vanni Arasu went to retrieve it.  That parcel came to his personal address and requested that he give one spare motorboat part to a person affected by the tsunami.  Would someone planning to commit a crime provide his personal address?

When Vanni Arasu went to retrieve the package, the postal clerk inquired, ‘How can we confirm that you are Vanni Arasu?’  You should return with address proof; you should bring your ration card, if you do not, you can provide your passport or even a telephone receipt, if not, you could provide your milk card, ATM card or credit card; your name is on all of these documents.  But no matter what document Vanni Arasu provides, the name Jeyaraj is on it.  What did he do?  Having contacted and spoken with officials, Vanni Arasu went to the place and spoke with the clerks who responded, ‘there is a confusion regarding you name.  The identification document must indicate that the person named Vanni Arasu and the person named Jayaraj are the same individual.’  After a month had passed Vanni Arasu finally resolved that he would retrieve the parcel himself, but according to Jayalalitha’s statement many months had passed without a person to retrieve the spare motorboat parts.

Vanni Arasu never retrieved the package.  The officials never opened the package and revealed its contents to Vanni Arasu.  The newspapers simply reiterate the information provided by the police.  The police must provide an explanation.  The police must give an explanation, but they can arrest anyone however they wish.  At any given time they may have ganja in their hands, or a small country bomb or a flask of bootleg!  Whomever they arrest, they will say that they caught a thief with arrack in hand, but they will place the arrack in his hand and lodge a case against him.

In the same manner, they could have placed anything in that parcel.  No one knows!  Did anyone open it and reveal its contents to Vanni Arasu?  Did Vanni Arasu see its contents?  Certainly not!  They should have given the package to Vanni Arasu and then monitored his activities; where will he go?  To whom will he give the package’s contents?  And then, if a crime were committed, they should arrest him; they should issue a punishment.  If they issued a punishment upon following this procedure, we are prepared to accept it.  We are ready to welcome that.  Thirumaavalavan is not the type of person that will kneel before the police and plead for leniency.  If they are going to make an arrest, we are ready to accept that decision.  But why did you (police) not place that parcel in the hands of Vanni Arasu?  The police determined on the basis of speculation that the parcel came for the Liberation Tigers.  You cannot charge someone based on a hypothesis!  You cannot infer a crime from a criminal consciousness alone.  I may think within my emotions that I could murder a man, but that is not a crime!  Having thought that I could commit murder, I may buy a sickle; that also is not a crime!  Mental thought is an internal process; buying a sickle is preparatory work, but did the individual commit murder?  It is only a crime if he completes the action.  If someone considers purchasing something to send to the Tigers, how does that become a crime?

It is at this point that that the police department committed an error.  If Vanni Arasu had made a mistake, you (police) should have placed the parcel in his hands and then monitored his activities.  If Vanni Arasu committed a crime without my knowledge and without my movement’s knowledge, you may take disciplinary measures against him!

But there is an ulterior motive in this!  The ulterior motive is that they wanted to foist a false charge against the present DMK-led government.  You could say that two parties in Tamil Nadu are intensely supporting the Liberation Tigers on the basis of moral support; one of them is the MDMK!  That party is in the ADMK coalition.  The other party is the Liberation Panthers!  Our party is in the DMK coalition.  So, they cannot foist a conspiracy [in relation to the Liberation Tigers] against the DMK government by using any other party.

Because of that, there are a few officials deliberately performing this work in the name of sullying the reputation of the present DMK government and for the purpose of foisting false cases against the DMK government!  You (audience) can ask, ‘At first the police department is in Kalaignar’s hands; then the police department is operating against Kalaignar?’  During ADMK rule there were a few individuals within the police department who would betray the ADMK by supplying Kalaignar with information.  Today, while the police department is in the hands of the DMK, there are people present here for the purpose of supplying information to the ADMK party; this has become a custom in the police department.

There are so many individuals in the Indian military who sell classified information!  Kumar Narayanan sold classified Indian military information!  He is in a position of such great responsibility.  Similarly, Nambi Narayanan sold classified rocket technology to foreign nations!  What disciplinary measures have you (police) taken against them?

Today, the former chief minister (Jayalalitha) released a false allegation.  In a blatant lie she claimed that Thirumaavalavan met the chief minister on the day that Vanni Arasu was arrested within only a few hours time!

One newspaper in Tamil Nadu writes against the Dalits.  That newspaper is Dinamalar.  Jayalalitha lifted information directly from an article published in Dinamalar!  Before this article was published the names of two Norwegians were printed in all of the newspapers as ‘Gadaffi’ and ‘Endrthaan’.  This reporter at Dinamalar, without knowing how to transliterate their names, wrote ‘Kadaalpi’.  Jayalalitha copied the spelling of ‘Kadaalpi’ straight from the Dinamalar article!  She copied ‘Kadaalpi’ in her statement which similarly read ‘Kadaalpi’.

I met the chief minister in his house on the day after Vanni Arasu posted bail and was released from prison.  At that time, the chief minister did not ask me about Vanni Arasu, but just before I left I raised the issue, ‘Sir, police department officials have foisted a false case against Vanni Arasu.’  He asked, ‘yes, what about that?’  I said, ‘They have lodged a false case against him and we posted the bail [to release him].’  Yes, that was the extent of our conversation about Vanni Arasu!  Kalaignar and I did not exchange any other words on the matter.  So, if someone says that the chief minister released Vanni Arasu because I asked him, we must understand that it is a blatant lie.  Because Vanni Arasu did not commit a crime it was easy to secure his release and we immediately posted the bail.  That is the truth!

Here and there efforts such as these are being undertaken to slander our movement.  In such situations it is my duty to expose these efforts.  To the extent that we buttress the DMK government, it does not imply a weakness of the DMK. It is also not a weakness of Kalaignar.  Additionally, we do not receive support from the people equal to the extent that we support the Liberation Tigers.  We are a movement that has embraced and mobilized simple people, poor people, people living in poverty, people who hunt birds, fisherman and the people of the marginalized classes.  We are a party that does not engage in any actions beyond our own limitations.

From the early days of my political career up until the present, up to this very moment I have said, ‘We will offer moral support [to the Liberation Tigers]!’  Anyone can offer moral support to anyone else on a humanitarian basis; it is not a crime!

So, we demand that the former chief minister (Jayalalitha) must quit releasing baseless allegations such as these regarding this movement; today, our upstanding reputation permits us to denounce the Tamil Nadu police force for lodging false cases against the Liberation Panthers.  If we were conducting this movement in a manner to seek the chief minister’s favor, would we conduct a demonstration today condemning the entire Tamil Nadu police department?

Regardless of the government, regardless of our alliance, if anyone acts in a manner that betrays democracy, in a manner against our society and in contradiction to its laws, the Liberation Panthers has the responsibility and duty to condemn its actions.

So, we severely rebuke the police department that operates under the control of Kalaignar, the honorable chief minister and renowned egalitarian.

We not only condemn the disciplinary actions and repressive measures taken against Sunampedu Sarangan and Arul Aahiyoor, but we extend our condemnation further to include the ‘rowdy’ label that has been stamped upon the Liberation Panthers and the false cases lodged against our cadre.  At this time we request that the Tamil Nadu government overturn each and every one of these false cases.

Moreover, information has surfaced that investigators Thirumani and Chinnasami are threatening to arrest prominent VCK functionaries including Anand in a deliberate way of extracting revenge on the behalf of the police station, which creates a law-and-order problem in the Kanchipuram district, attempts to arrest important [VCK] administrators, and plots attacks on Sunampedu.  Not only have I said that a law-and-order situation must not be created in Kanchipuram district and repressive measures of this nature must cease, but I am warning that the police department must immediately abandon its anti-Dalit disposition.

Recently on March 5, Selvaraj, the police department official that arrested Acharappaakam Edison, along with Sanmuham Aahiyoor attempted to urinate in Edison’s mouth.  I condemn such barbarian tendencies with the gravest severity.  And now I request with affection that brothers who congregated here to participate in this ethical protest safely return home in a peaceful manner.  I extend my appreciation and regards to each of you. Thank you.

Written by plcflash

December 29, 2011 at 10:25 pm

[Speech] The Indian Government on the Docket

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The Indian Government on the Docket (2009)

10 February 2009

This speech was delivered by the Tamilian who is rising up at a public meeting organized by the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement on Pullaaretti NizhaRchaalai.

To our dear Tamil brethren and the Liberation Panthers that are the light of my life, I express my humble greetings to all of you gathered here today.

Firstly, I must salute Muthukumar, a devoted brother and the flame of Eelam, along with Pallappatti Ravi, Chiirkaazhi Ravichandhran, Vannaarappeettai Amareesan and all others who sacrificed themselves in the defense of Eelam Tamils.

The Tamil race residing in every nation must rise up for the protection of Eelam Tamils throughout the world.  Bearing that purpose in mind, this public meeting has been coordinated by the ‘Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement’.  Proceeding in this direction, this public meeting is the first [of what will be a series of meetings organized by the Sri Lankan Tamil Protection Movement].  In an executive strategy meeting earlier today we decided to conduct additional rallies across the state in places such as Coimbatore, Madurai, Trichy, Tuttukkudi Velur, Salem, and Pondicherry.  We are not pressing forward with the objective of disseminating new information or propaganda; the information is already familiar to all of us; the information is already common knowledge.  Time and time again there is a growing need to sharpen, strengthen and enrich our emotions.  Our present circumstances mandate that we must spearhead subsequent demonstration on a continual basis and of increased severity.

In our present circumstances we are obliged to conduct public meetings through the state to mobilize devoted Tamilians.  We must publicize awareness among the people of the Indian government’s betrayal of Eelam Tamils whom it has consistently failed to protect.  This has become our primary objective.

Here on this stage I am recollecting events that happened twenty years before in the early days of my political life.  Just a moment earlier the leaders present here convened a brief meeting.  In that meeting the BJP’s leader L. Ganesan showed a copy of an old daily magazine.  He read to us a transcript of the speech Vajpayjee delivered at the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organization conference.

During the meeting immediately preceding this demonstration Vaiko proclaimed, “What Vajpayjee said twenty or twenty-two years before remains completely relevant today.”  At that time something occurred to me, Vaiko, the Tamil chief minister Kalaignar and I share a common experience.  In the time of Vajpayjee’s speech Vaiko was an influential leader in the DMK.  He used to deliver lectures brimming with emotion among students and youth about the plight of Eelam Tamils.  He might not be able to recall this; also Kalaignar will likely not remember this.  But I remember Vaiko’s speech because I was young and this event left an impression on me like a nail on a green sapling.

At a later time I invited Vaiko to participate in a function.  I proposed a date and he accepted [the offer].  I coordinated that function in the Tevaveeyapaavaanar Library building.  At that time I served as the general secretary of an organization called the ‘Youth Welfare Movement’.

When I met Vaiko, I asked, ‘would you be willing to deliver a speech to the students?’  He immediately agreed without the even slightest hesitation and inquired, ‘on what topic shall I speak?’  I suggested, ‘Speak on any topic you desire, but you must speak among the students, that alone is my request.’ Then, Vaiko suggested a title and we printed and pasted wall posters on campuses that read, ‘Vaiko, the revolutionary storm, will speak about the Indian Government’s war crime [in Sri Lanka]’.

Subsequently when I went to the DMK party headquarters to distribute invitations for the function, Vaiko escorted me into Kalaignar’s office.  This caught me by surprise.

It is not customary in politics to introduce the younger generation to prominent political leaders.  Kalaignar generally will not interact with budding political leaders; prominent political leaders are not commonly introduced to the youngsters.  But Vaiko, holding that pamphlet in his hand, placed his arm around me and led me into Kalaignar’s office.  Murasolimaran and Duraimurugan were seated there.  Then Vaiko said, “Tomorrow, I will speak among the law college students, he (Thirumaavalavan) has organized the event himself.”  I offered my greetings.  Then Kalaignar asked, “On what topic will you speak?”  Vaiko responded, “The Indian Government’s war crime.”  Without a moment’s delay, Kalaignar said, “The Indian government has not only committed a war crime; the Indian Government is continuing to commit a plethora of crimes of this nature.  So, you could speak with the topic, ‘the Indian Government on the docket’.”  Then Vaiko turned to me and asked, “Can you make this change [to the fliers]?”  I responded, ‘Certainly elder brother, I will print new fliers.’  But he called me outside and said, “I do not want to cause [you] unnecessary expenses, so just write ‘the Indian Government on the Docket’ individually on a small card and paste in over the previous title.”  I passed the entire night pasting ‘The Indian Government on the Docket’ on all of the fliers.  That speech that Vaiko delivered in the Theyaneeyappaayaanar Library ignited the emotions of the students in attendance.  That speech instilled such profound encouragement and impact in people like me; it solidified my resolve that we must toil for benefit of Eelam Tamils.

Just as L. Ganesan showed a copy of the speech delivered by Vajpayjee at a conference convened by the Tamil Eelam Supporters’ Organization, the speech that Vaiko gave regarding Vajpayjee’s speech twenty-two years ago is still relevant today.  Memories of these incidents continue to linger in my mind.

There is still a need to place the Indian Government on the docket; this demand continues to resonate today.  I believe that Chief Minister Kalaignar also realizes this.  There is a need to place the Indian Government on the docket, not only was this suitable in the time between 1986-7 but also today in 2008.  We can tally the crimes continually committed by the Indian government against the Tamil race.  We must summon the Indian government to the international court and lodge our grievances.  The first crime is the Indian government’s violation against the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan government!  The struggle is strictly between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers; this disagreement and struggle is strictly between the Sinhala national race and the Tamil national race.  Even the Sinhalese did not invite the Indian government [to intervene] in this disagreement; the Tamil people did not invite them; the Liberation Tigers did not invite them.  As the respectable Nedumaaran said, the Indian government brought the leaders of all the militant factions to Tamil Nadu, provided them with training, supplied weapons and then sent them back.  This offense violated the sovereignty of the Sri Lankan government.  Without the Tamil people’s consent, without their approval, the Indian government passed and the Ravij – Jayavarthanaa agreement and imposed it on the Tamil people.  This is an offense that violated Sri Lankan sovereignty.

A party comrade in attendance brought a copy of a daily edition of Dinmani published in 1987.  It was published as front page news in that issue of Dinamani.  In 1987 the Tamil Eelam national leader Prabhakaran said the following at a public meeting at Sudhumalai, Jaffna:  “Even if the chief minister’s post is available, I will not accept it.  The Liberation Tigers will not participate in elections, but we accept the agreement the Indian government has thrust upon us.  We are not willing to fight against India because we have affection for India.”  But, today is not yesterday.  He said these things in 1987 because he is a leader possessing a long-term perspective: ‘I did not accept this agreement; they did not consult with our Tamil people; they did not consult with the Tamil people’s representatives.  India thrust this agreement upon us so that an inimical power should not be established in Sri Lanka against the Indian government.  For that reason, we accepted.  We were ready to hand over weapons, but it is the Indian government’s responsibility and duty to protect Eelam Tamils.’

Prabhakaran highlighted these points in a public meeting convened at Sudhumalai in 1987!  Now, I want to speak about another event.

In that same year (1987) the honorable Pradhakaran stayed in Indira Nagar.  At that time MGR was chief minister.  I. G. Moohan Daasu, while complying with a central government order, confiscated all of Prabhakaran’s communication equipment.  At the time MGR was away in Ooty to inaugurate the annual flower show.  In these circumstances the Tamil Eelam national leader the honorable Pradhakaran announced a fast-unto-death.

He demanded that the confiscated communication equipment be returned.  News of this proclamation spread like a wildfire.  As twenty law students we mobilized and approached the house where Prabhakaran was staying.  While standing at his gate we chanted, “The revolutionary leader who fights carrying weapons must not struggle in the path of ahimsa; immediately end the hunger strike!”  Then Veeramani, who had been admitted in a hospital in Mandhaiveli, arrived and spoke with Prabhakaran.  All the while, we were standing outside the gate chanting slogans.  After a long time, Prabhakaran along with Aandan Baalasingam and Jaani Aahiyoor approached the gate and spoke with us.  He carefully selected his words saying, “I am conducting a hunger fast to convince the Indian government that we also believe in the path of ahimsa; we only carry weapons in our struggle against Sinhala ethnic chauvinism; it must be understood that this is not a war against India.  I am continuing this hunger strike in order to emphasize this point.”  Suddenly he was interrupted and summoned inside.  After a little time passed he returned and declared, ‘because the chief minister pledged to return all weapons and telecommunications equipment, I will now end the hunger strike’.  Professor Veeramani provided him fruit juice and he concluded the fast.

On that day, he conveyed these points in our conversation.  He said, ‘We do not use weapons against the Indian government.  We carry weapons only in our opposition to Sinhala chauvinism.’

He said these things while he was in Tamil Nadu.  He also made these statements in a public meeting convened in Sudhumalai.  But, what did the Indian government do?  It sent the peacekeeping force [to Sri Lanka].  What did that peacekeeping force do there?  It did not establish peace.  It raped our Tamil women and unleashed a violent rampage.  That peacekeeping force abducted and vanquished our Tamil youth.  It clashed directly with the Tamil people.  Those very Tamil women were among those who welcomed them, who arrived with holy water and smeared the sacred ash on their forehead.  The women welcomed them thinking, ‘we have family in India; the Indian government is also our government’.  These women cheerfully welcomed the Indian force that allegedly came to protect them by bringing holy water and smearing sacred on the soldiers’ foreheads.  The Indian military plundered and pillaged those same Tamil women who greeted them carrying holy water.

The Indian peacekeepers, who allegedly arrived in the name of peace, hunted our youth and our Tamil women.  They clashed with the Tamil ethnic people.  This is the second allegation.  This is evidence of the Indian government’s crimes against human rights.

For the third allegation, the Indian government continually acted against Indian sovereignty.  What is meant when we utter the word ‘sovereignty’?

A few people think that ‘aanmai’ is only related to masculinity, but the world should be interpreted as ‘aalumai’ (ruling authority).  ‘Aalumai’ is another world for ‘aanmai’!  The meaning of ‘iraiyaanmai’  (sovereignty) is ‘arasaanmai’ (rule of a king). The meaning of ‘irai’ (god) can also be interpreted as ‘arasu’ (king). Sovereignty refers to the ruling authority of government.  The responsibility of a government is to protect the people who hail from that country and to respect their sentiments.  That is the meaning of sovereignty.  Like protecting the country of India, Indian sovereignty means protecting Indian citizens and respecting the sentiments of these citizens.  Tamil Nadu is within the national boundaries of India.  The people residing in Tamil Nadu are Indian citizens.  Even through to the present day has the Indian government respected the sentiments of the immense Tamil society that amounts to more than six or seven crore people?  The Indian government is not showing due respect!  The crime of insulting the sentiments of the Tamil people, who are also Indian citizens, is a crime against Indian sovereignty.  Not only is the Indian government violating the sovereignty of Sri Lanka; its activities violate Indian sovereignty as well.

In earlier times and even today the situation remains the same, the Indian government has not given due consideration to the sentiments of the Tamil people; it has not given due respect to the Tamil people.  The Legislative Assembly is an assembly that contains the Tamil people’s representatives!  That Legislative Assembly made a unanimous decision.  The ADMK under the leadership of MGR openly supported the Liberation Tigers.  The ADMK changed as a party when Amma (Jayalalitha) assumed leadership in the wake of MGR’s death.  Not only did the ADMK cease to support the Liberation Tigers, it also ceased to support the liberation of Eelam!  It became a party that justified the massacre of Eelam Tamils!  Even today Amma declares, ‘if there is war, people will die’.

Also the ADMK, which has adopted a political stance against Eelam Tamils, supported and passed that agreement in the Legislative Assembly.

The Congress Party is an inimical party to the Tamil race, which, by pointing out the death of a single individual (Rajiv Gandhi), permits the massacre of lakhs of Tamils.  Moreover, the Congress Party supported the resolution and passed it.  Did the Indian government not respect the decision that was passed?  Having gathered on the basis of political pressure, how could we not declare that those parties [referring primarily to Congress and ADMK] are collectivities of racism and racial betrayal?  Those parties provided sanction [for violence against Tamils]!

All parties in the alliance passed the resolution.  We said, ‘show the determination to stop the war’, but did they respect this?  We said, ‘do not send weapons’, but did they respect this?  We said, ‘do not send a peacekeeping force’, but did they respect this?  We said, ‘do not give radar equipment’, but did they heed us?   We said, ‘do not provide [military] training’, but did they take notice?  We said, ‘we must not form an alliance with the Sinhala government; that support would be used to eradicate the Tamil race’, but did the respect our demand?  We said, ‘send the foreign minister to make the necessary efforts to stop the war’, but did they take any necessary efforts?  All of these things are crimes against Indian sovereignty; they are crimes that insult the sentiments of ethnic Tamils who are also Indian citizens!

In this manner the Indian Government is committing one crime after the next.  As per international conventions, the Indian Government does not adhere to a single convention that it had adopted.

As soon as news that people were being killed in Palestine spread, the Indian government announced its condemnation four times within a single week.  But today tender children are ambushed and massacred; who is going to locate places like Senjoolai?  It’s nothing but the Indian government’s ‘Indra Radars’.  Who was operating those radars?  They were operated by officials in the Indian force.  Who operated the ‘Kifiir’ planes that are flying there?  The pilots were a part of the Indian force.  The Indian government is engaging in crimes that crush human rights and violate all [international] conventions.  In the present situation as the Indian government’s crimes continue to accumulate in this manner; Comrades, it is our duty to expose the Indian government!  To curtail the Indian government’s behavior!

The Tamil people are also Indian citizens!  The Tamil fishermen are also Indian fishermen!  From 1983 through to the present day the Sinhalese have shot and killed approximately 400 Tamil fishermen.  They have adducted so many of them that an accurate projection cannot even be estimated.  We are unable to identify how many have been kidnapped and how many have gone missing.

Even today if you go to Nagarkovil you will see hundreds of wives of fishermen assembled and they will tell you that they have not seen their husbands for ten or even fourteen years.  You might think, ‘as per the law, if a person is not seen for seven years he is considered deceased!’  But, can these women think like that?  Countless women scream, ‘we are wearing the talli without knowing if our husbands are dead or alive, without knowing if we are widows or married women!  We pass our lives in mourning.’  More than 400 persons have been shot and killed by gunfire.  Up to this point has the Indian government ever expressed its condemnation?  Has the Indian government uttered even one warning?

This very Rajiv Gandhi when he participated in a guard of honor in Colombo, just as he received respect from that guard of honor someone lunged forward to attack him.  If they [Indian politicians] actually had any true love or affection for Rajiv Gandhi, would the Indian government not have sent its military upon the Sinhalese government?

Is it not the duty and responsibility of the Sri Lankan government to provide protection when a country’s leader visits to participate in a guard of honor conducted by the Sinhala government?  Is it not?  The Sinhalese government officials themselves selected the soldiers to participate in that guard of honor.  Among the soldiers who participated, one man turned, lifted his rifle butt and thrust it at Rajiv Gandhi, who reacted swiftly and the soldier missed his target.  Did the shameless Indian government utter even a solitary word to condemn the act?  What substance is in their claimed affection for Rajiv Gandhi?  Did fury not boil in Vellur Gnaanasekaran?  Did anger not rise in E. V. K. S. Elangovan?  Where was self-respect that day for K. V. Thangabaalu?  Was even one poster pasted on walls that read, ‘Whichever Sinhala dogs tried to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, we condemn you’?  Conversely, the slogan ‘Arrest Thirumaavalavan’ was shouted in the legislative assembly.  But, in the same way, has anyone raised their voice against the Sinhalese?  Today are the Sinhalese not in an alliance with India?  But, they are also allies of Pakistan and China.  Are Pakistan and China not enemies of India?  The Chinese occupy much of [India’s] territory.  They have encroached upon and violated India’s national boundaries; they are occupying [Indian territory].  Does India not have the guts to invade China?  Does it not have the power to regain those areas?  The Pakistanis have entered within the boundaries of Kashmir and seized a large area!  They christened it with the name ‘Aasaadh Kashmir’, but doesn’t that area lie within India’s territory?  Does India not have the guts to reinstate those boundaries?  How can the Sinhalese, who maintain international relations with Pakistan, be your friends?  So, China and Pakistan are allies of a nation where the Tamil race is being decimated.

Moreover, the Indian government committed a grave crime when it ritually offered our land at Kachathiivu without respecting the Tamil people’s sentiments, without receiving the Tamil people’s acceptance, without receiving the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly’s approval and without debating this in the parliament!  The Indian government has committed so many crimes such as these!  In everything that has been said up to this point in the Kaveri River controversy, has the Indian government spoken justly on behalf of the Tamils?  During the rule of the BJP and still currently during the rule of the Congress has the Indian government shown courage or strength to speak on the Kaveri River controversy in the interests of the Tamils?  Up to this point, has the national government not kept its mouth shut?

Has the Indian government ever publically recognized that there is justice in the Tamil people’s demands regarding the Mullaiperiya River Dam issue?  Has it ever condemned the Keralan government?  Has the Indian government every condemned the Andhra Pradesh government when the Andhras constructed a dam across the Bhavaani River?  But, has the national government ever denounced Andhra Pradesh?  The Kannadas proclaimed, ‘we will not follow the Okkeenakkal drinking water scheme’; they transgressed state borders and conducted a rokko claiming, ‘this is our land!’  Only the Pattali Makkal Katchi and the Liberation Panthers entered the field of struggle and conducted a demonstration related to this issue.  These two parties went as comrades to that place and raised their voices in protest.  Up to that point had the Indian government warned the Kannadas?  In any way and on any day has the Indian government justly represented the interests of the Tamil people?  No!  The Indian government has committed crime after crime in this fashion!  Do you know the reason for this?  Even though there are thirty states in all of India, all other states aside from Tamil Nadu have accepted ‘Indianness’!  Those states have accepted hindutva!  Those states have accepted north Indian dominance!  Those states have accepted Sanskrit!  Those states have accepted Hindi!  From the early ages until the present era Tamil Nadu has been the only state challenging Hindi!  Tamil Nadu has been the only state challenging Sanskritization!  Tamil Nadu has been the only state challenging north Indian dominance!  In all of history Tamil Nadu is the only state that has witnessed the immolation of a large number of people in opposition to Hindi imposition!

It such a manner these activities opposed Sanskritization!  They opposed Hindi; they opposed Aryan dominance!  They opposed north Indian dominance!  Indian customs did not take root in Tamil Nadu and among the Tamils!  Because of that alone, it is obvious that even if we consolidate and raise the voice of the six and a half crore Tamils again and again the Indian national government will invite the Sinhalese on the Thambaram Air Force base and provide them with military training.  If you acknowledge these things you can see the extent to which the Indian government must consider the Tamil people complete imbeciles!

The Indian government says, ‘I provide him military training in your land for the purpose of annihilating your race.’  Because the Tamils are dismissed as imbeciles, all of these atrocities continue to happen.

Sir, just as Nedumaaran said, the Indian government is conducting this war!  No one can refute that.  Today, Norway denounced Sri Lanka.  The French denounced Sri Lanka.  The United Nations denounced Sri Lanka.  Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State of the United States, denounced Sri Lanka.  The British parliament denounced Sri Lanka.  Many different countries, countries that believe in human rights, have denounced Sri Lanka.  We must agree that up to this point the Indian government has never declared, ‘We vehemently condemn the massacre of innocent Tamils along with all other actions that violate human rights!’  Why does the Indian government refrain from saying this?  The Indian government itself is conducting the war!

Today international sympathy has been created for the Liberation Tigers, who hide in the dense jungles of Mullaitthiivu. In order to disrupt this, the Sinhala racists concocted a conspiracy about female suicide bombers!  They concocted a story about civilian deaths resulting from [LTTE] suicide bombers who detonated themselves on the common path leading civilians toward refugee camps.

Today, this news was recorded on websites such as Pudhinam, Padhivu and Tamil Net.  The Sinhala government’s allegation that female suicide bombers exist among the Liberation Tigers is a blatant lie!  Because the Sinhalese kill the common people, the innocent people, these fables are told as if they were true.  All the international countries joined together and imposed a ban on a type of weaponry referred to as cluster bombs.  A single bomb will be released, but when it detonates it will burst into many smaller bombs.  Obviously, because of such weaponry many lives and property are being destroyed.  Sometimes these bombs will lie dormant for many days before exploding once again.  Cluster bombs are the most atrocious type of weaponry!  International countries came together and imposed a ban on cluster bombs, but the Sinhalese have already detonated cluster bombs on the island.  The Red Cross Society discovered and revealed this fact to the world.

Recently, in order to expel the Red Cross from the island, the Sinhalese planted explosives in Red Cross vehicles.  They sent the Red Cross out of Sri Lanka.  In such circumstances the Sinhala government schemed to create an atmosphere where the international community is obliged to direct its anger against the Liberation Tigers; they fired their rifles and killed eight innocent people, but concocted the story that twenty soldiers died in the conflict.  The Sinhala government made such accusations.  You might ask, ‘what is the reason for this?’  The Sinhalese thought that by alleging the Tamil Tigers sent suicide bombers to prevent the departure of peoples [from LTTE controlled territory] they could prevent international sympathy from being placed upon the Tamil Tigers!  The Indian government is collaborating with the Sinhalese government in all of these actions!

In our present context we must ensure that the truth is known; therefore we are informing the public about the Indian government’s betrayal of the Tamil race.

As Nedumaaran firmly stated, the Indian government will never step forward to stop the war.  This is because the Indian government itself is conducting the war.  If a crisis is created for the Indian government or for Indian office bearers, they will not stop the war.  Only if we demonstrate that they will lose every seat in the Tamil Nadu parliamentary election will they stop the war.  Only if we create a political situation such that the Congress and anyone who allies with them in Tamil Nadu cannot attain victory, only if we can accomplish this will the war draw to an end.

They crush our ethnic sentiments by propagating news that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam killed Rajiv Gandhi.

One piece of information must be understood.  Children born after the death of Rajiv Gandhi do not know about him!  They don’t know about the Tigers!  They also don’t know about Rajiv’s murder!  If the Indian government keeps using Rajiv Gandhi’s murder as a reason for eradicating the Tamil race then the younger generation will condone the Rajiv’s murder [as if it was suitable act in response to the crimes committed by the Indian government].  They will find it suitable that the LTTE killed Rajiv Gandhi.  We are obliged to underscore this fact and warn you.

I was alive in the time of Rajiv’s murder.  I know that history.  The new generation that is born after me knows nothing about this history.  The state of affairs that is now developing is such that the younger generation feels that Prabhakaran’s way is their way.

A hero like Prabhakaran has not emerged among any other ethnic group across the world, but many people do not like this [they grow jealous]; it’s a psychological issue.  Our generation, having grabbed a sickle, cannot put up a fight, but we continuously speak about ancient Tamil heroism.  Even the women at that time would drive away the tigers with their winnowing fan.  When her son died in the battlefield she went to the field to see if the sword pierced his front or his back side.  Only when she confirmed that the sword pierced his chest does her breast milk attain merit.  But today, upon seeing a cockroach we quiver; now we are of this nature. When they [Indians] see a courageous person like Prabhakaran, they quiver.  This is a psychological issue.  Heroes of that nature have appeared among this [Tamil] race.  It has not happened in the past, and no one will be like Prabhakaran in the future.  In 1987 these were the first four lines of a song that I sang:

The bravery of the ancient Tamil has ceased to be

Yet in his tradition, there is no habit of surrender

Prabhakaran is making the world aware of this fact

No one among us has the capacity to be on par with him

A hero such as this was born to a simple, unassuming family in ValvettithuRai Cuddalore!  A hero who did not descend from a military lineage like Napoleon or Alexander!  Today he is a hero that has accomplished what no other imminent person could achieve throughout world history.  Even if faced with an insurmountable force of thousands upon thousands of soldiers, he is the type of person who would rather die on the battlefield than kneel in submission.  Ravij Gandhi brought in a one lakh strong Indian peacekeeping force in Sri Lanka.  The Tigers themselves sent that one lakh peacekeeping force into retreat and drove them off the island!  Today how many thousands of soldiers can Indian send there?  American weapons are there; Canadian weapons, Israeli weapons, and Pakistani-Chinese weapons are there. Tamil Eelam’s revolutionary leader Prabhakaran encountered all these weapons [on the battlefield], confronted soldiers from all of those countries’ forces and stood his ground on the battlefield.

Comrades, I will share a fact with you; while conducting the Aanaiyiravu offensive, not only Sinhala soldiers descended upon the battlefield, but American forces were also there.  You cannot predict the Tiger’s tactics.  You cannot endure the Tiger’s onslaught.  So they [American forces] said, ‘We will stand with you [Sinhala forces] and show the way forward.’  But in the end, even the American forces that joined hands with the Sinhalese, having had their ranks broken, took to their heels and fled!  In the Aanaiyiravu counterattack alone four thousand Sinhalese died.  The honorable Prabhakaran chased 20,000 soldiers and then let them flee!

Prabhakaran is not a violent person; he is not a terrorist!  After capturing Sinhala soldiers he is the type of leader that negotiates their release; he does not torture them!

But upon killing female Tigers those Sinhala cowards remove their clothing and mutilate their genitals.  Those Sinhala cowards engage in such loathsome acts that evoke nothing but disgust!  Those Sinhala cowards are the types of people who beat the dead snake!

The Tamil Eelam national leader, the hero Prabhakaran is the type of leader that releases his captives without torturing them.

Up to this point, is there any proof that the LTTE has even once dropped bombs on the common people and killed Sinhala [civilians]?  Are there not Sinhalese in Mattakkalappu?  Are there not Sinhalese in Tirukoonamalai?  Are there not Sinhalese in Vavuniyaavu and Yaazhpaavam?  Can anyone show proof that the Tigers have ever killed Sinhala civilians on any day?

Recently the Air Tigers flew in an airplane to Colombo, targeted the enemy barracks and headquarters, dropped bombs and returned to Vanni!

The Sinhala forces are still on high alert; the Indian forces are still on high alert; the ‘Indra Radar’ is constantly monitoring the skies.  Despite its surveillance the ‘Indra Radar’ could not detect the Air Tigers!  The Air Tigers flew to Colombo, dropped bombs and returned safely to Vanni.

If they bomb the capitol city in this way, will the bombs not detonate in densely populated civilian areas?  No.  Even today the Liberation Tigers are an extremely disciplined force.

But, the Indian government joined hands with the Sinhalese and imposed a ban on the Liberation Tigers calling them ‘terrorists’.  So, the Indian government’s crimes are the fundamental reason for the eradication of the entire Tamil race [in Sri Lanka].

At the time I brought Vaiko to deliver a speech at an event I organized, he provided information on the crimes of the Indian government.  That speech which he delivered years ago still resonates today, ‘expose the war crimes of the Indian government; place the Indian government on the docket; convene criminal proceedings.  So, having united with all of you from this stage, we are obliged to launch an inquiry against the Indian government.  Even if not today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, one day at some point we will make the Indian government stand trial in the Tamil people’s court; we will issue punishment for crimes bent on the annihilation of our race; we will pass our judgment.  On that note, thank you for granting me the opportunity to speak and now I will take leave.

Written by plcflash

November 7, 2011 at 2:38 am

[Essay] Arundhathiyar Clash in Ayyambalaiyam

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Arundhathiyar Clash in Ayyambalaiyam

Essay by Thirumaavalavan published in தாய்மண் September 2001

For the past two months tension has erupted in the Palladam taluk of the Coimbatore district. Police officers, revenue officials, and countless outsiders are frequently visiting the area in their jeeps. This includes Rama Gopalan from the local board of trustees of the Hindu temple who has introduced himself as the ‘world Hindu people’s goonda.’ Many people even up to Gopalan himself are constantly frequenting the area.

What is the reason for all of this activity?

There is a very small village named Ayyambalaiyam between Palladam and Settikalaiyam. Approximately 225 Arundhathiyars and 400 Goundars reside there. During the Mariyamman Temple’s festival in the village Arundhathiyar people stepped forward to perform their customary work of beating the parai drum. For ages the Arundhathiyars had been commanded to perform the slave work of beating the drum for the gods, but recently Arundhathiyar youth, in opposition to this custom, ceased beating the drum. Because of this, the Goundars prevented them from performing religious rites like bringing prayer lamps and flower garlands to the temple. This is not of great concern, without performing slave work we can live with self respect. We will live without performing ritual prayers to these gods.

Today young Chakkiliyar boys, who had been ordered to perform this work up to this point, proclaimed ‘I will not beat the drum for the temple’. Their brazenness enraged the Goundars. Because of this, they deceived the Arundhathiyars with the following offering: ‘If you do not beat the drum, the god will still come. You need not worry about all of these things, just come carrying your prayer lamps.’

Without understanding the Goundars’ ploy, the Arundhathiyars took their prayer lamps and went to the temple. When the Arundhathiyar people came to a place called Mukku Road, a casteist frenzy entered the minds of a Goundar mob under the leadership of Kandasamy Goundar from Kulakkaadu and Munusamy Goundar from Lakshmi Nayakkankaadu. Having said, “Hey, you Chakkiliyan thaayooli (slur), gather your prayer lamps and run!” The Goundar mob became enraged, beat the Arundhathiyars with large sticks, and stomped on their prayer materials. While speaking about this a young Arundhathiyar man said, ‘from now on we will cease to perform slave work, the Goundar people commandeered our prayer lamps by force. Continuing in that vein, they abused the Arundhathiyar people with derogatory caste slurs and beat them. Having struck the legs of Veelmuragan, Kandasamy’s son from our community, he collapsed to the ground.’ They cited all of these things in a complaint at the police station but the police have not taken any disciplinary measures.

In this context, the caste fanatic Goundars drove away Srinivasan’s wife, an Arundhathiyar person, while she was in transit to the temple to fulfill a vow to the deity. All the while they abused her: “tee (derogatory address)! Hey, remove this Chakkiliar prostitute’s saree!’ She attempted to run to protect her honor, but they caught her. In spite of the Arundhathiyar woman’s flight and the Goundars’ pursuit after her the police officers sitting next to the temple thought, ‘this is not our problem.’

A complaint was filed about this in the police station, but disciplinary measures have still not been taken against the caste fanatics. Because the police have not taken any kind of disciplinary action, the casteist demeanor of the Gounders is spreading. With that casteist demeanor having become excessive, Sanmuham’s son Balaji, Ammaasi’s son Suriyaa, beat and threw punches at Arundhathiyar youth. Not only this, but they have prevented the flow of drinking water into the Arundhathiyar colony.

But still, what disciplinary measures have the police taken against the caste fanatics that have instigated the violence?

Thamootharan and Aaruchami who come from the Arundhathiyar colony provided an answer to this question. ‘The police are supporting the Gounders who continually call us by derogatory caste slurs, inflict obscene suffering, and refuse to provide agricultural employment. Because of these things rowdiness and caste fanaticism are rampant. Not one person in the RTO or DSP has even taken notice of our suffering. How can we continue to live like this?’ he said with agony. What can we do when casteism and law suppress the oppressed Arundhathiyar people like this? Is there not a solution? Is it not time for the Indian Penal Code to punish caste fanaticism? With anger mixed with bitterness the people were made to take another decision. This decision has sent government administrators and police officials reeling. When we lamented, ‘They beat us; they attempt to kill us,’ no young boys (sarcastically referring to politicians and police) even paid us a short visit. But now everyone including the collector and other imminent people routinely visit the village to speak with us.

Why have they changed their course?

‘The Hindu religion is afflicted with a disease that prevents the Arundhathiyar people from living with self-respect. Because of that we will leave Hinduism and embraced Christianity.’ This announcement was the reason for all of the frenzy of activity around the colony!

The former chairman of the Tamil Nadu Arundhathiyar Democracy S. T. Kalyaan Suntharam released an proclamation calling for Arundhathiyars to convert from Hinduism to Christianity. He argued that ‘Hindu religious goondas always claim that they do not want untouchability, [but untouchability remains a reality for us].’ While S. T. Kalyaana Suntharam spoke with reporters he said, ‘we carried our people’s emotions on our shoulders while meeting with government officials and police department officials, but still no disciplinary actions were taken. They did not even arrest the casteist individuals who beat us. They have not withdrawn the fake cases lodged against the Arundhathiyars. Even during negotiations, which were conducted in name only, no agreement was reached. After all of this, how can we remain within the pale of Hinduism? If we are refused entry into the temple, what is the use of praying to that god? Because of these factors we stated our intent to leave Hinduism and convert to Christianity.

Because of this statement everyone from Hindu religious figures to government officials threatened us. Immediately, everyone from the RTO officials through the police leaders met with the Arundhathiyar people and held negotiations.

Finally, after they promised to take measures that protect Arundhathiyars from the violence of caste fanatics, the Arundhathiyars rescinded their initial plan for religious conversion. But, the aversion toward the Hindu religion that initially drove away the Arundhathiyar people remains intact.

These measures are only temporary. In the next phase the Arundhathiyars will be prepared to engage themselves in more severe measures.

Written by plcflash

June 5, 2011 at 5:14 pm

[Speech] Bishops Bless Sheep, not Panthers

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Bishops Bless Sheep, not Panthers”1

Delivered by Thol. Thirumavalavan in Pondicherry on 19 March 2008

Liberation Panthers, the light of my life! I express my humble greetings to all of you. I wanted to be with you from the morning to take part in this demonstration, but I had already committed to the Thindivanam Government Arts College’s yearly festival and the “Women’s Rights” conference in Villupuram organized by the Women’s Freedom Movement. Having completed these obligations, it was certainly necessary to come here. Because of these prior engagements, I arrived late for this demonstration. I express my sincere regret.

All the comrades, priests, and Christian movement leaders who spoke here highlighted not only the problems that occurred in Eraiyur but all problems faced by the Dalit people who embrace Christianity.2 In particular, while our movement’s MLA comrade Ravikumar was speaking, even if he only spoke briefly about Revolutionary Ambedkar’s reflections on Christianity in Tamil Nadu, he underscored very important historical facts. Revolutionary Ambedkar wanted to embrace Christianity, but his reason for not embracing Christianity was that caste had already pried its way into Christianity. These are the points that comrade Ravikumar summarized here.

Today we must liberate the people that suffer from caste violence. In addition, it also appears necessary to recover Christianity from caste fanatics. Throughout the ages Catholicism has opposed both science and the oppressed, toiling people. Also, in every stage of history periodic revolutions have erupted and struggled against Catholicism. Through revolutions such as these, the movements that were established became ‘revolutionary movements.’ In English these are called Protestant. So, ‘Protestants’, meaning ‘revolutionary Christians’ or ‘opposition Christians’, have appeared all over the world. The fundamental reasons for this are the conservatism, opposition to rationalist thought, exploitation, and dominance within Catholicism.

If we take the example of the French Revolution, it was a revolution that happened in opposition to Catholicism. It is not strictly an uprising because of poverty or a revolution opposed to King Louise 14th. This revolution erupted against Catholicism! In support of this I can provide endless evidence. Doctor Mesliyar, who was a priest for thirty years in France, provided the final verdict: “I wasted a thirty year period of my life for the sake of Catholicism. In all ways, Catholicism struggles against the toiling people. Catholicism resists rationalist thought.” When it was said that the world was round, the Catholic Church did not accept the statement. Having driven away Gallileo, who said that the world is round, the Catholic Church itself issued him a death penalty and killed him through stoning. Because the ideology of Catholicism is against science, we can see many other revolutions that have struggled against Catholicism throughout the course of history.

Like this, many revolutions have left their imprint in this history of struggle against Catholicism. At present a new revolution against Catholicism has erupted in Tamil Nadu. This indeed is a revolution against the casteism that prevails within Catholicism. This revolutionary fire ignited from the soil of Eraiyur. I understand the present movement in Eraiyur through this historical perspective.

This change that is taking place within Eraiyur; this revolution; we cannot dismiss it as ordinary events. I am amazed. I have still not fully recovered from this shock. What shock? Struggling against the casteist violence that happened in Eraiyur, protesting the bishop of the Cuddalore-Pondicherry archdiocese, all of the Dalit Christian people joined the protest and closed and locked twenty-five churches in the Cuddalore-Pondicherry diocese. This has brought me great shock, amazement, and happiness.

I asked comrade Sinthanai Selvan “What is your feeling about all of this?” Different comrades, while speaking on this matter, have provided different responses. They did not respond as I had expected. From all these events, one fact is known: Despite the fact that Dalits have changed their religion, they still immediately united in protest. From this, we can understand that the social institution of religion is very useful for the Dalit people who are struggling. I underscored this with the comrades. 3

The Dalits who embrace the Muslim religion cannot say that they still possess a Dalit identity. But, the Dalits who embrace Christianity, because they are simultaneously both Dalits and Christians, joined the protest against the social institution of religion (closing and locking the churches), because of this they provided an immediate protest (against the diocese). Some might say “Hindu Dalits” they are a fragmented people. But, they are not “Hindu Dalits.” They do not belong to any particular organized religion. 4

Because of the power of mobilization on the basis of religion, it was possible to immediately organize our protest. Although some of us may not believe in god or religion, organized religion has revealed the extent to which is useful to harness the people’s energy. This has been revealed by the Christian Dalit people’s immediate response by closing and locking twenty-five churches over the past twenty-four hours. This is a very important fact.

Without considering only the counter response to the caste violence that happened in Eraiyur, the fire of revolution that has ignited in Eraiyur must now spread throughout Tamil Nadu. Although, I do not see this as merely a struggle against Archbishop Anandarayar who is based in Pondicherry. We must begin our struggle against the casteism that pervades Catholicism. This must continue. This must spread like a fire. Devise a plan! Break through the layers of opposition! Spread in every direction! “Spread like a fire!” this is another slogan of the Liberation Panthers.

We are the people who must ignite this liberation struggle against the casteism that prevails and encroaches upon Catholicism. On this basis, we are the laying the foundation for this struggle today in Pondicherry. I do not consider this to be a struggle against any particular person.

Yesterday, comrades Sinthanai Selvan and Ravikumar relayed some news over the telephone. They told me that the archbishop, while speaking about the events that happened in Eraiyur during the bishops meeting that convened in Pondicherry, rose on two separate occasions and said “I deeply regret the violence inflicted upon the cheri people.”

In the bishops meeting yesterday several decisions were released that were later published and distributed through the news media. Professor Mary John and Fr. Jayaseelan confirmed here that “We do not have faith the statements released by the archbishop because he doesn’t know how to implement them. Because of this it is crucial that we must continue our struggle.”

For such a long time and struggle after struggle, how many times have bishops uttered promises such as these yet failed to implement them? Prof. Mary John and Fr. Jayaseelan might express their lack of faith because of these bitter experiences. But, the Liberation Panthers believe that this will be implemented because this struggle does not end with Dalit Christians. This struggle is spreading beyond the Dalit Christians.

We cannot reduce this to a struggle within the Dalit Christian community. I believe that the bishops must know that this is a great fire that will spread far and wide. I want to emphasize before you today that they will not leave without implementing of these promises.

In the archbishop’s statement about the problem in Eraiyur, he wrote: “On March 18, 2008 the Pondicherry-Cuddalore Archdiocese gathered in brotherhood with diocesan high priests and reached this decisions after a serious investigation into the problems in Eraiyur:

1. The church and the main path in Eraiyuar are common and to be shared by all Catholics. All people regardless of caste may use the main path for events related to marriage and death.

2. All Catholics in Eraiyuar regardless of caste will use the same festival car and funeral car. These are to be kept in the church complex and are the responsibility of the parish priest.

This declaration released by the archbishop today is nothing more than a piece of paper. Since it may be an important historical record after several years, I am reading it publically to you. We completely believe that the archbishop Anandarayar firmly believes that he will not violate these provisions. If they are not implemented as stated, we cannot control the general public. If they are not implemented, this fire will ignite like an uncontrollable blaze on a cotton plantation. No one can put out this fire with ease. In all of Christianity, no sect is like Catholicism in regard to caste fanaticism. Because of that, again a revolution has erupted against Catholicism. This indeed is a revolution against casteism. A revolution under the leadership of Dalits. A revolution with the full support of the Liberation Panthers.

Earlier comrade Sinthanai Selvan mentioned the strategy and techniques of the Liberation Panthers movement. Some people are diverting attention by saying that the revolt broke out in Eraiyur because of wall posters that were pasted around the village. Is that the only reason for the violence? Up to the time that the wall posters were released, were all people in Eraiyur living as if there were brother and sister, mother and father, as if they were a cohesive family? They are spreading blatant lies that the wall posters and public notices cultivated the animosity and instigated the revolt.

“Send out the devil of untouchability! Otherwise, lock the church!” what catalyst for violence can you see in this phrase? Where is the violence in this statement? “Send out the devil of Untouchability” is a motto of revolutionary Ambedkar and father Periyar. In 2003 when the Pope delivered a speech in India before the archbishops, he said, ‘Once you annihilate casteism, come to the Vatican.’ The Pope implored that the casteism ruling Catholicism must be destroyed. Still, his speech is available on the internet.

“Send out the devil of untouchability! Otherwise, lock the church!” What words in this statement can ignite a revolt? The police department, the revenue officers, government officials, bishops, archbishops, all of these people are saying that the Liberation Panthers instigated the revolt. But rather, it is because of the violence that the Liberation Panthers came to Eraiyur. It is because of the atrocity that we came there. Having distorted this central fact they are propagating lies in the name of god. How terrible this is! We can say this a thousand times; again and again we can say this; even if a revolt comes once again, we will time and time again rise up and paste these wall posters. We will post them on all sides of the village. We will write on every wall. If violence results because of these actions we will roll out the red carpet and welcome that violence. “Come!” “Come!” This is the violence that illuminates the path to our liberation. Because of that, we will welcome it.

They are saying that these wall posters are ours, that they were distributed by our comrades. They are saying time and time again that the disturbance resulted because of our wall posters. How can we continue to listen to this? “We will rise up! We will refuse to submit to their control!” While writing messages like this over walls throughout Tamil Nadu, Thirumaavalavan is inciting a social disturbance. Because of this new and old friends (ruling and opposition politicians) are demanding the arrest of Thirumaavalavan. Even if we say, “We will rise up!”, even if we say “We will hit back!” what violence lies within the utterance of these slogans? This slogan strictly means that if someone strikes, we will strike back. How can this be violence? The meaning is that we will hit back for the sake of controlling that violence. How can this meaning instigate violence?

People who possess power always desire that those who are suppressed, that those who are suppressed should not rise up courageously. The wall poster said, “Lock the Church!” If this causes them so much frustration that they voluntarily (on their own volition) close and lock the churches; then, then what did you achieve? On their own volition, people rose up, they shut and locked those churches. Could the people who possess power do nothing to prevent this?

Did the Liberation Panthers ignite the disturbance in these places? Did the Liberation Panthers go to these places, slam the doors the lock them shut? Our brothers and sister who realized that caste exists within Christianity rose up, slammed these doors shut, and locked the churches. This has revealed another truth. Bishops, Archbishops, you account for only ten percent of the faithful; you are dreaming if you think that you can herd us like a flock of sheep!

If we were a flock, you would be the shepherds! But we are panthers and no shepherd can graze panthers! Is there a shepherd that raises panthers? There is no such shepherd (priest); there is no archbishop! A shepherd will graze a flock of sheep. But now we are Liberation Panthers; you cannot graze us, you cannot deceive us! So, it is not necessary to deny that these statements motivate violence. Through their spontaneous protest the people perceive this. No one went from street to street announcing this. This spontaneous protest!

This reveals yet another fact. Dalits comprise an 85% majority of the Catholic faithful. The 15% minority of Vanniyars, Udaiyars, Pillaimars, Nattars, Rettiyars, and Naidus who depend upon this 85% Dalit majority dominate and enjoy wealth, comfort, and official positions in the church’s name. At the same moment, if the 85% Dalit majority, without worrying about anyone, decides that ‘This church is ours, we will maintain this church. We do not want any bishop here. We do not want any archbishop here!’ then a revolutionary age will begin in Tamil Nadu. There is no room for second guessing this. The time is ripe for a revolutionary age.

Everyone here spoke about the reasons for the struggle that happened in Eraiyur. Dalits should not travel with their dead on the common path (to the burial ground). Dalits should not use the common path for their marriage processions. For the Dalits there is a separate hearse; for the caste Hindus there is a different hearse. The Dalit hearse is shriveling in the sun outside the church. The caste Hindu hearse is kept within the shadow the church. For the Dalit people there is a graveyard. For the caste Hindus there is a separate graveyard. Why are there such forms of discrimination? What is the reason for this? We should not call them as ‘caste Christians’. We should call them ‘Christian caste Hindus’.

So, the Christian caste Hindus that embrace Christianity, for the purpose of safeguarding their caste, for the purpose of establishing their dominance, they have retained the practice of Untouchability. If you ask, ‘where does untouchability arise?’ it arises in the place where we demand our rights, where we demand our own power. We should not only struggle against forms of untouchability that spawn from Hindutva, but wherever untouchability dominates, wherever it encroaches, we should wage our struggle in all of those places. This is the duty that lies before us. Because of this duty, today we are chanting these slogans and driving away the caste satans that have encroached within the church. In this, the caste Hindus used the term ‘sathankal’ for the purpose of insulting Gautham Buddha. In remembrance of Gautham Buddha we have christened ourselves with names like ‘sathaiyaa’ and ‘sathappan’. We took these names to remember how Hindus insulted the Buddha. So, we should not call the caste fanatics that have encroached within Christianity as ‘sathankal’. So, on this basis, it is correct to refer to the caste fanatics as ‘caste lunatics’. 5

Revolutionary Ambedkar called the caste fanatics as “paithiyangal.” These kinds of casteism ideas only come to lunatics. As an example of this he mentioned an incident that happened in Tamil Nadu.

A young calf, having fallen in a well, was struggling for its life. The calf’s owner, helpless to rescue the calf, was in distress. Then, a man who was coming along the path, after inquiring about the incident, saw the calf drowning in the well. He rescued the calf from the well and brought it to safety. The calf’s owner was so happy that his calf was rescued that he kissed the animal. He asked the rescuer about the name of his native village. Then, as soon as he heard the name of that man’s father, he immediately knew his caste. Next, the calf’s owner sprinkled water on the calf’s back. “Because of your touch, the calf became polluted,” he said. In order to remove the pollution he sprinkled water on the calf. He was also sprinkling water on himself. These are the types of insane persons that Ambedkar referred to as “sathi paithiyangal.” This stranger saved his calf! If the owner were a human being he should have said thank you to the rescuer

When the poet Ingulab heard about this incident he wrote an emotionally charged song. “We are also men, human beings, like you, like him, we are also eight measures in height,” he sang. That song was written about and focused upon a cruel incident. In a village called Kolappatti of the Perambular district, four young children climbed into a well and began bathing. The owner of the well observed this scene. ‘Those Paraiyar children are bathing in my well!’ he exclaimed. Without saying a word he placed an electric cable in the water and turned on the power. He electrocuted those innocent children who were swimming in the well. All four of them died.

Can a person who acts in such a way be a human being? Is he not a lunatic? Because four cheri children climbed into a well, he thought that the water became polluted. That lunatic electrocuted and murdered those four children. Having become distressed after hearing about this, the poet Ingulab wrote that song.

Similar to that incident, caste lunatics in Hariana murdered five Dalits because they stripped away a dead calf’s hide (tanning activities). Those caste lunatics, even while following Christianity, murdered five Dalits for stripping away a dead calf’s hide. So, even while they follow Christianity, they do not forfeit casteism. Because of this they are caste Hindus following Christianity. Because of this we will raise our voice against casteism wherever it encroaches, wherever it dominates.

To address these incidents we will convene a ‘Tamil Christian political uprising conference’ this coming June 27th that will draw supporters throughout the state. This conference is being convened to root out the casteism that dominates within Christianity. This conference will mobilize at least an estimated two lakh Dalit Christians. I am informing you here that the fieldwork for that conference will occur under the leadership of Sinthanai Selvan.

The meaning of “Eraiyur” is the ‘the place where god resides.’ “Irai” means “god.” We can pronounce “Eraiyur” correctly like that (by saying Iraiyur). The meaning of “Irai” is god. They began the revolution from the very place where god resides. This fire of revolution has ignited against the casteism pervasive within Catholicism. Guided by our beliefs we must continually lead this struggle. This is the duty that lies before us.

Even if the Liberation Panthers is a movement without an official religious affiliation, many of our supporters maintain their own faiths. It is our duty to liberate our people from repression. Thirumaavalavan and the Liberation Panthers that follow Thirumaavalavan will never, not on a single day, distinguish between Dalits and Dalit Christians. We will not even think like that for an instant. Although, we realize that these differences exist within society. Because of that it is necessary for us to lead Dalits away from perceiving internal division amongst themselves.

For mobilizing the political power of Dalit Christians we must win reservations for them in both work opportunity and education. This is an objective of the Liberation Panthers. But, a few bishops, archbishops, and priests are spreading rumors that Thirumaavalavan opposes granting reservations to Dalit Christians. Why do you think this is? The reason for these mindless thoughts is that they do not want Dalit Christians to be mobilized under the leadership of Thirumaavalavan. We understand their politics. It is fine if the upper caste people, caste politicians, and religious caste people think in this way. But our Dalit brothers who belong to Dalit society must not think this way. If they do, it’s not that it harms Thirumaavalavan; no, it only harms Dalit solidarity.

The fundamental reason for the oppressive and repressive measures taken against us and our comrades is that we lack a political force. I can compile a list of so many gun shots in Tamil Nadu. Whenever and wherever violence clashes occur between Dalits and caste Hindus, do police officers lathi charge the caste Hindus who instigate violence against Dalits? When has this happened? Has it ever occurred? Have the police fired shots against the caste Hindus during acts of casteist violence against Dalit Christians? It happened recently for the very first time in the history of Tamil Nadu. Is this the beginning of an auspicious new era in Tamil Nadu? 6

It is a custom that whenever caste violence occurs between caste Hindus and Dalits the police department supports the caste Hindus. The police department guides these people. People in the police department only lead the caste Hindus. 80% of those working in the police department are caste fanatics who wear khaki uniforms.

What were the circumstances that led to the death of Senthil from Gunamangalam by a gunshot? Police officers with guns drawn ran into the oppressed people’s streets. At just a small distance behind the police are caste fanatics carrying weapons including country bombs, who are chasing away the Dalits. Without turning to look behind them, the police officers do not drive away the caste fanatics. In the present of the police department the caste fanatics throw country bombs and cut down the oppressed people. 7

While this happened with such great enmity a fire engine arrived at the scene. In this situation the fire engine should have gone to the cheri where ten huts had caught fire. That engine must go to the cheri. But, because a caste fanatic was driving it, he instead drove the fire engine and extinguished a fire that had caught in a caste Hindu’s cowshed. That fire engine did not go to the cheri to prevent the spread of the fire or to save the burning huts. Because of that our brother Senthil and a few youth, consumed by rage, ran toward the man who was operating the fire engine. As they ran across the tar road a police officer suddenly fired his gun and killed Senthil. This is an example of how the police department always uses their weapons to protect the caste Hindus.

For the reason that the government cannot give a gun to each and every caste Hindu, police stations have been established by the government throughout Tamil Nadu. Here, guns are kept for the benefit of the caste fanatics only! The government keeps guns strictly to protect the caste fanatics. Having training a few caste fanatics and brought them into the police stations, whenever caste fanatics are affected, you (Niinga; directed toward the police) always shoot and kill. This is the situation that exists. But, for the first time, two caste fanatics were hit by gun shots in Eraiyur. They were not killed by the bullets because they attacked the oppressed people. Rather, it’s only because they attacked the police officers. The oppressed people under the leadership of comrade Mathew, engaged in a hunger strike on their street. Did they sit in front of the church? Did they go and sit on the common path? Did they sit on a street in the caste Hindu area? They only sat in the cheri. They sat in the church to Mother Mary that rests in the cheri. But, two thousand caste fanatics, having mobilized, charged into the cheri, damaged the statue of Mary, and assaulted local houses with crowbars until they collapsed. To this extent their caste fanaticism rampaged through the cheri. But, what is the meaning of this?

By 7:30am on that morning Mathew told me over the telephone: “Let us not continue this hunger strike. Let us not allow the people get further frustrated. If another two or three days pass the people will themselves come to the decision that the hunger strike should not continue. Because of that, let us not continue this hunger strike. Immediately stop it. We may lead the struggle with a different design,” like that Mathew advised us. Because of this, they were about to wind down the hunger strike. If anyone, the parish priest, the archbishop, would have spoken with the people, the hunger strike would have stopped. The archbishop never thought that these things would have happened. They never thought that the Panthers would intervene (and therefore the archbishop ignored the Dalits’ struggle)

The archbishop submitted a written report to the caste Hindus that thanked the police for the gun shots. Even though he knew that two people died in the gun fire, the archbishop thanked the police department for controlling the revolt. In what way did the police department actually control the revolt? The police department only controlled the violence by firing their guns! Because of the police department’s actions two individuals died. And the bishop said thank you in his statement! A few people wrote and released this statement. But the archbishop provided his signature. This is how their administration functions.

Because of that, in this way only comrades, because of the lack of gravity from the archbishop’s administration, the revolt began in Eraiyur. This is our opinion; it is not blame. It is only the truth. Our only allegation is that this is the truth. Because of this, the honorable bishop himself is responsible for the crime. If we say that he is responsible for all of the good things that happen there, he is also responsible for all of the bad things that happen there. Because of that, while the caste fanatics crossed into the cheri and were assaulting the people with horrifying cruelty, the police also came inside the cheri. Then the stones that were being hurled by the caste Hindus hit the police officers. The fact that a stone hit police superintendent Amalraj is itself a miracle. If the stones had hit ordinary police officers, they would have been carted off to the hospital. On the next day the news paper would have read, ‘police officers injured; four oppressed people injured, admitted to the hospital.’

But, Jesus Christ himself turned the stone in such a way that it struck the superintendent of police. The caste Hindus did not throw that stone. Jesus Christ himself charted the stone’s path and directed it toward the superintendent of police. That is what happened. Amalraj himself is a Christian. He himself prays to Jesus Christ. Because the stones hurled by the caste Hindus hit Amalraj the bullets that were sleeping in his gun awoke with frenzy! ‘Are you throwing the stone on our boss?’ the bullets asked in all of their fury. Amalraj was not angry. It was the bullets in his gun that were angry. Because the bullets in his gun grew furious two laboring brothers lost their lives. Why did this happen? Who had the power in their hands to prevent this?

We organized this demonstration to emphasize that it is archbishop’s responsibility and duty to root out casteism from the churches of the Pondicherry-Cuddalore archdiocese. But, because he perceived this in advance, he released this announcement. ‘I believe firmly that we are moving toward a harmonious solution.’ But, we must acknowledge that this problem does not end with Eraiyur. This solution does not end with a solution for the people of Eraiyur. This is not only about the thirst of the people in Eraiyur. After all, why did Dalit people in Kakkanuur also lock their churches? They did so because they share this same thirst. We must quench this thirst.

Because of that, this struggle will still spread to many more archdioceses. And if it does not spread on its own, we will spread it. This is the work of a social revolutionary. Che Guevara did this. Having gone to each and every city on a motorcycle, he kindled life into revolutionary fires that were burning with intensity throughout the country. This indeed is the work of a true revolutionary. Like that, in whatever churches Untouchability is rampant it is our duty and our responsibility to find a solution in each of those places. Let the Villupuram conference provide a suitable venue to search for solutions. I suggest that we begin the fieldwork for that conference today. I appeal to all people that we must invest our full efforts for the sake of establishing a lasting solution along with enduring harmony and tranquility in Eraiyur. Now I must take leave of you. Thank you.

[Speech] Dalit-Muslim Solidarity, It’s not merely a Dream

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Dalit – Muslim Solidarity, It’s not merely a Dream”1

Delivered in Tamil by Thol. Thirumaavalavan at the Dalit-Muslim Uprising Day Remembrance Meeting on 6 December 2007

Liberation Panthers, the light of life, I express my humble greetings to all of you.

Today is the remembrance day of our esteemed leader Revolutionary Ambedkar who made all of us feel proud as human beings. All over India this is a day of agony, anger, and an upsurge of emotion for the Muslim minority. It is a black day in Indian politics as Hindu chauvinists demolished the Babri Mosque, turning it into rubble. In honor of Revolutionary Ambedkar we have declared this day as Dalit –Muslim Uprising Day and we have been celebrating it continually to salute the innocent common people and Muslim citizens who suffered murderous deaths at the hands of the fanaticism that was unleashed all over India following the demolition of the Babri Mosque.

Immediately following the demolition of the Babri Mosque in 1992, the VCK2 staged a condemnation protest as a counter response in Madurai. Approximately 3000 Liberation Panthers participated in the bicycle rally that we organized. At that time the VCK was resolutely boycotting elections. Without expecting any form of political benefit and following the path of Revolutionary Ambedkar, the Liberation Panthers convened the protest on that day with a political and social concern: the democratic rights of minority peoples must be protected.

Before the demolition of the Babri Mosque, the Liberation Panthers released an announcement in Madurai and pasted wall posters reading: “Sri Lanka was set ablaze in ancient times because of Hanuman; in our time India is going to burn because of Advani! The Muslim minority and the Dalit people must be cautious!” From that time through to the present day, we have been stressing that the oppressed people living in the cheri3 and other oppressed minorities must be mobilized within a single front.

While delivering a speech at a function convened in the Icehouse area by the India Desiya League with north Indian Muslims, I stated this: In India we must integrate three great powers into a common front. One is the Dalits, another is the minority people belonging to Islam, and third is the leftists! In Indian politics, the leftist democratic powers are leading the protest against hindutva, also referred to as communalism. I underscored that until those three powers are united as a political base we cannot stop the hindutva chauvinists’ fanaticism.

When I had the opportunity to participate and speak in a life rights conference convened by the Tamil Nadu Muslim Progress Movement chaired by elder brother Hyder Ali, I said this: If we unite Muslims and Dalits across India, Advani and Vajpayjee would not even be able to dream of victory. The very notion of victory could not even cross their minds. Government power would rest in our hands only! I said that if we unite, stable power would remain in our societies. I extended a challenge in that meeting: even if we do not achieve this solidarity across India, we will begin to work towards this goal in Tamil Nadu. This is a continuous effort! There is a historical need to unite the oppressed communities and the minority communities. The VCK has perceived this necessity in advance. On this basis only, we have united on Ambedkar’s day of remembrance, dubbed it ‘Tamil Muslim Uprising Day’, and we stand together today.

Why did Hindu fanatics select Revolutionary Ambedkar’s Remembrance Day [to demolish the Babri Mosque]? Could they not have demolished the Babri Mosque on December 5th? Could they not have demolished it on December 7th? Why did they select December 6th? Did this happen unexpectedly or spontaneously? It was a long held calculation that the Babri Mosque must be demolished. It did not just happen in a day. It was not planned in just one or two years. The Babri Mosque was demolished on that day after many years of meticulous planning! On December 6th Hindu fanaticism reached its climactic state. On that day millions of oppressed people all over India pay respects to Revolutionary Ambedkar. All over India his images and idols4 receive respect from every cheri person that has risen up! Having selected that specific day Hindu caste fanatic gangs razed the Babri Mosque.

Comrades, every year in Nagpur a grand celebration is held to commemorate Revolutionary Ambedkar’s conversion to Buddhism. At least five lakh people unite in Nagpur on that day. Having selected that same day, Hindutva religious fanatic gangs convened ‘Ram Leela’ there [in Nagpur]. Who objected to the protest staged by the hindutva religious fanatic gang? We must not forget Revolutionary Ambedkar’s primary objective in India. Firstly, Revolutionary Ambedkar fought against the powers of hindutva. “Why?” you might ask. Throughout his life Revolutionary Ambedkar exerted serious and concerned leadership in uprooting hindutva. He tore the mask of hindutva. From Gandhi through to Ghose who shot him, Ambedkar defined the primary enemy as the Hindu religion, which is both Brahminism and hindutva. In that way they selected Revolutionary Ambedkar’s Remembrance Day and they engaged in fanatical and deplorable acts on his remembrance day. This is not a false statement.

Revolutionary Ambedkar said to the oppressed people in that time, “your primary enemies are three: first, the Hindu religion; another, Gandhi; another, the Congress movement.” Why did he say this? The Hindu religion protected caste, the Congress protected the Hindu religion, and Gandhi protected Congress.

So, because we must annihilate casteism in this land, we must uproot Hindutva. Because we must uproot Hindutva, we must identify the Gandhis and the Congresses in the political field. This is not Thirumaavalavan’s voice. This is the voice of revolutionary Ambedkar! On that day he was shouting these slogans. On that philosophical basis Ambedkar identified two oppositions: One, capitalism; and another Brahminism! Brahminism is nothing but casteism! Casteism is nothing but Hindutva! For that reason alone So. Ramasamy (a Tamil political writer) is a friend of Narendra Modi; Ammaiyar (Jayalalitha) is a friend of So. Ramasamy. They expressed that if they were separated at any time they could not stand [on their own].

Is Narendra Modi a Brahmin? No! He is a caste Hindu! Modi is openly an RSS member who accepts Brahminism; accepts Hindutva. Narendra Modi does not speak as an unassuming citizen. Narendra Modi, the man who holds the responsibilities as Gujarat’s chief minister, said “carrying human excrement is not a degrading profession; it is a holy one.” Hey! Narendra Modi, come to Puliyanthoppu; come to Nochikuppam5; there you can carry feces! Invite the sankarachariya to come with you! To attain enlightenment must you wear saffron and carry a religious vessel?6 Must you follow religious austerities to attain enlightenment? In Chennai there are so many dry latrines without people to clean them! We will lease so many of them to you. The Sankaracharya mutt should be the chief of this work. You [Narendra Modi] can also assist in this work!

In our modern milieu many people in this world are frequently discussing democracy and humanism, discussing the uses of modern technology, Narenda Modi recently wrote in his book Karma Yoga that ‘Human beings cleaning human feces is a sacred task’ and that through this work enlightenment can be attained. How can you say that? So Modi, if you want to come to show how this work is performed, your friend So., the editor of Tuklak will welcome you here! Comrades, I am not saying these things for comic relief. These works cut like a fire burning through my abdomen! I have spoken these statements while full of rage! What arrogance does it take to profess that caste based profession has its own dharma!

A division of oppressed society called Valmikis work as sweepers and cleaners in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Like the work of Adi-Dravidars living in some areas of Chennai, the Valmikis are performing this work in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh. Having listed this information in his book, Modi published the book at the government’s expense.

The Indian government must immediately ban this book! I must stress this opinion. The must arrest Narendra Modi, that Manu Dharma terrorist, and imprison him under violence prevention laws.7 Having stressed this demand, The Dravidar Karazham and the Liberation Panthers will unite in Chennai on the coming 11th [of December] and spearhead a demonstration in which we will burn copies of Karma Yoga! Waves and waves of Muslims must mobilize and participate in this demonstration. Here and now, I am requesting your participation.

It is said that Narendra Modi will come to Tamil Nadu. Elder Brother Hyder Ali said this. He invited us, ‘come to welcome him at the airport.’ He suggested that while welcoming him we should arrive bearing garlands. ‘If Modi comes we will gather with garlands; we gather with chappal garlands!’ At this time it is our duty to act. We will not criticize Narendra Modi in privacy. Modi, your principle is cruelty; your opinion is despicable; your politics are those of Manu Dharma; Again, you have come here as a Manu. You are eager to suppress us, to control us, to turn us into slaves. We are eager for liberation. We are Liberation Panthers! We don’t allow our enemies to enjoy their social activities. We will not enjoy these activities. On this basis, the Liberation Panthers severely oppose the flesh eating fanatic Narendra Modi’s ideology; we will continuously oppose him!

We did not assemble this meeting today with the thought that through this meeting Dalits and Muslims will receive political benefits from joining together as one. Today we are uniting together in this meeting with the long-term objective of consolidating our communities. Anyone can go and join any political alliance. It is necessary for us to assemble on the basis of ideology. If we don’t realize this necessity, history will not forgive us. If there is not a political awakening of the Dalit and Muslim communities even now in the twenty first century, then when will it happen? What other time? What other generation? We must think along these lines.

When Revolutionary Ambedkar spoke about rights for Muslims, he stressed that it was necessary for democracy. Democracy is not merely decided on the basis of the majority population; the majority people’s desire should be to protect the minority people’s rights; this only is true democracy! As a way of stressing this principle, Revolutionary Ambedkar declared the Indian government as a secular government. Among all the countries in the world, others do not declare their government as a secular government. Of all countries in the world, only one country calls itself as a secular government; that is the Indian government. For whom did Ambedkar declare that the government must be secular? For what reasons did he declare that the government must be secular? Do you know? We must understand Ambedkar’s long term perspective!

[Ambedkar claimed that] the democratic rights of the Muslim and Christian minority people must be protected! In this country there are so many religious places and so many holy sites. But, under the law the government cannot declare that it belongs to any particular religion. Revolutionary Ambedkar openly contended that this is the quality of a secular government. While functioning in the way of Revolutionary Ambedkar, this movement is always ready regardless of the sacrifice to protect the life rights of the Muslim and Christian communities. At present, it is my duty to say this.

For a long time the Liberation Panthers have protested for the right of Muslim reservations. During my time as a member in the legislative assembly, I continually spoke about this. I rose up and asked, ‘Honorable Chief Minister, In the T.M.M.K conference convened at the seaside marina, you should announce that it would be good to introduce reservations for Muslims. Why not declare it in this year’s budget?’ At that time chief minister Jayalalitha responded, ‘I have no intention of making that announcement.’ She refused to say it. All of this is recorded in the legislative assembly record.

The Liberation Panthers did not conduct a struggle for Muslim reservations that filled the jail cells with their own cadre. Even though the movement did not orchestrate road rokkos, the press for Muslim reservations was firmly supported. In Vellur we organized a ‘reservation conference that demanded reservations be allotted to Muslim and Christian minority people. At present, I am obliged to speak about this. Henceforth, a united Liberation Panthers and Muslim community will create the field to demand that the Babri Mosque must be rebuilt in the place that it was demolished! Many people, including elder brother Kavithoo Abdul Raguman and Mavulavi Salim Siraji, have said “In the leadership of Thirumaavalavan this war can burst out.”

Right now I will utter a promise. The Liberation Panthers will keep this in their action program. Having joined together for the purpose of this struggle we will establish the field to press for this demand. The Muslim and Dalit people, once united can conduct a journey by foot across the country while stressing the demand that the Babri Mosque must be rebuilt at the same site that it was demolished. Otherwise, we can establish the fields to continue to struggle for this demand.

Revolutionary Ambedkar’s wife Savitha said the following about the place where the Babri Mosque was demolished: “A Hindu temple did not exist earlier in the place where the Babri Mosque was demolished; a temple to Ram did not stand on that ground. In the early days a Buddhist temple stood on that ground; we have evidence to support this.” According to Savitha Ambedkar, Ram was not born there and a temple for Ram never stood on that ground.

Before the death, Barbar wrote the following in his last will to his son, Humayun. We know that he instructed him son as follows: “You should excel as a king in such a way that you love the people and the people love you. Never under any circumstances should you destroy a place of worship of the people.” Barbar told his son in this last testament that if there is a Jain temple or if there is a Buddhist temple, you should not undertake actions that destroy the people’s prayer halls.

We can raise the question, ‘considering that Barbar was this type of person, would he destroy a temple for Ram and build a mosque in that place?’ Today that same Barbar’s children (referring to Muslims), and this Baba’s children (affectionately referring to Ambedkar as Baba) have joined together as one. We are Baba Sahib Revolutionary Ambedkar’s children. That man is ‘Barbar’, this man is ‘Baba’. If Barbar and Baba’s children unite together, we will hold India, which is called Bharath, in our hands! This is not an erroneous calculation; this is an accurate calculation. But we still have not opened our eyes.

Muslim people all over India feel that the BJP should not be victorious within the political field. Because of that, who [has traditionally] benefited? As always only the Congress party benefits from this! Still the Muslim people are not thinking about this in a different way. [They see politics only as a contest between the Congress and BJP, without considering the viability of a third front.]

I want to conclude by saying one thing only. How did Mayawati seize power in Uttar Pradesh? Gurumurthi (a Brahmin writer) who is here wrote that, “Despite whatever reasons you continue to insult Brahmins, can’t you see that you only captured political power because of the Brahmins’ support? Mayawati only ascended to the podium (attained political power) because of Brahmin support.” I respond as follows to people like Gurumurthi: Do you know what slogan the late leader Kanchiram and Mayawati were shouting 15, 20 years before? “Why do you disrespect us as a cobbler community? Hey Brahmin upper caste gang, if you come near our streets we will drive you away and hit you with our shoes! Our symbol is an elephant! We will grab you and crush you like a snail!” Who was saying these things? It was not Ram (lord Ram); it was our Ram Kanchiram!

Even if Brahmin Baniyas consider themselves higher, they shook hands with Mayawati and forged political relations. The Muslims are the reason for this. This political decision was taken because Muslims account for 16 percent of the population in Uttar Pradesh. What political decision am I referring to? While thinking that the BJP should not come to power in Uttar Pradesh, the Muslims had been continuously voting for Congress. Like that, throughout India from the time of Gandhi through to the present day, do you know which community has continued to be the Congress Party’s vote bank? The cheri people only! Even today it is the cheri people who, by giving their votes, keep the Congress Party afloat! All caste Hindus are forming alliances and creating regional political parties. Under the leadership of Mulaayam Singh, Lallu Prasad, Chandrabaabu Naidu, Jayalalitha, Karunanidhi, doctor Ramadoss, in the individual leadership of caste Hindus these regional parties have supported Congress. For this reason, Congress has integrated regional demands for state rights into its platform. If it were not to unite with regional political parties, Congress’ source of power would stem from the votes of the cheri people. Sonya Gandhi realizes this fact. Do you not see it as well?

But comrades, the Congress party still holds power across India only because of Dalit votes. What change happened in Uttar Pradesh? In 1984 when the BSP first contested elections they lost their election deposit in 202 constituencies. Recently the BSP won contests in more than 200 places. What evolutionary changed occurred [between 1984 and today]? The evolutionary changed that occurred during the time in between was that the Congress Party’s vote tally decreased. How did the Congress Party’s vote tally decrease? All the cheri people who had been voting for Congress began voting for the BSP! Because of this, Congress began to decline [in Uttar Pradesh]! Do you know the political decision taken by the Muslims at this time? Muslim community members reasoned, ‘Hereafter even if we vote for the Congress, the Congress Party will not rise to power; the BJP will once again come into power! So, for the purpose of ensuring the BJP’s decline, the only strong opposition power now is the BSP! Because of that, they took the political decision that the only viable approach was voting for the BSP. That is, because of knowing who their leaders were once the Dalits had mobilized, and because the Dalits had seized political power, they were joined by the Muslims. The Dalit-Muslim political relationship shattered the political power of the Brahmins and other high castes. Through this relationship Mayawati rose to power in Uttar Pradesh.

What facts must Muslims understand from this case? Nobody can deny that there is need for the complete decline of the BJP. But, there is another option aside from voting for the Congress in order to counter the BJP. There is another choice! That is, the other choice is Dalit-Muslim solidarity! The example of Uttar Pradesh is proof of this! Why should we not also implement this? Why should Muslims here not also change their way of thinking [regarding voting options]? I am making this request for camaraderie! There is a political need for us to unite together on this basis; it is a historical necessity!

Today the Liberation Panthers are in the process of reorganizing its district and state structures and it has issued an invitation for Muslim and Christian minority people, democratic forces among the non-Dalits, and women to join the party. Toward this end, this landmark transformation occurred in Veelacheri on October 2nd. For two months the party has lacked both state and district organizing bodies, but this mass public meeting is proof of the strength of our party [despite having temporarily dissolved its organization structure]! Today many thousands of individuals have accepted the straightforward invitation and joined the party. The party is presently without a district organizer, without a district secretary, without a district treasurer, without state administrators. But, having gathered together as Liberation Panthers, who are the light of my life, you can also join the party.

Thirumaavalavan dissolved the party with frustration; So many members, in their craze for cinema, will run after cinema actors and join their party,’ a few people imagined a scenario like this. Panthers will never bow in submission in a craze for film; they are a political power! Even if [cinema actors and other politicians] want to draw them into their parties, they can pull the youngsters only. Also, if they wake up and open their eyes, they will return only to the Panther barracks. When distressed, they will not go to any other place. After all, our field is different; their (referring politicians and cadre in other parties) field is different. They spend three-fourths of their lives behaving unruly like a gang; Thirumaavalavan who has the ability to lead and preside over this movement is not like those other party men. From the age of twenty through to his present age of 45, throughout his youth for more or less a quarter century, he has entrusted himself with the responsibility of mobilizing the oppressed people and Tamil society.

Having endured so many humiliations, defamations, and dishonors; having carried scars, having endured wounds, he is still standing in the field. If your hut burns, Thirumaavalavan will stand there; no one else will come! If feces are crammed into your mouth, Thirumaavalavan will become enraged! No other person is willing to act in this way! There are many people who oppose imperialism, but are not willing to counter caste fanaticism! There are many people who are opposing the American president George Bush, but, they are unwilling to also condemn a cast fanatic who shoves feces into your mouth!

So, their field is different; the Liberation Panthers’ field is different. Anyone can enter into politics, but they cannot provide leadership for you! You must thoroughly understand this. The Veelacheri resolution fulfilled on October 2nd dissolved the leadership responsibilities of the Liberation Panthers; last November 12th the party’s high administration unanimously selected me as the leader. Because of this I am dutifully bound to express my gratitude to every one of the Liberation Panthers, the light of my life.

Thirumaavalavan has been functioning as the leader for seventeen years! Even in the present situation his is printing visiting cards. But, in the Liberation Panthers Party seventeen years are not necessary in order to become a leader. As a result of intensive fieldwork completed as an organizer, as a secretary, after receiving the oppressed toiling people’s confidence, you handed over the responsibility of leadership to me. I feel proud that you are wholeheartedly calling me as “annan” or “thambi”.8 I always need a seat in your heart!

Having dissolved the administration and prescribed a few rules, you can now submit an application. Even if you are presented with a critical situation, you give your cooperation. I had announced that on this day the state and district organizers’ list would be declared. Suddenly, the administrative committee said that there were not enough days to inspect all of the applications! Therefore, the deadline to apply has been extended by a few days. In complying with the people’s request, the December 10th deadline has been postponed for the last ten days.

After that, only district secretary interviews will occur. After the interviews, the administrators’ list will be announced. ‘Without an available post for most of the comrades who apply, posts will only be available for a few individuals. Posts may or may not be available for newcomers. But even with this, until our final breath we will work in the field as a Liberation Panthers,’ like this we have received applications from comrades who are such firm supporters.

My affection is given to everyone. I respect and pray for everyone’s contribution; I love each and every person. But I can appoint only one secretary for a district! If I could divide and give a post to everyone, I would divide and give them to all! But, what can I do?

I am dutifully bound to state firmly that no matter what decision is taken, and no matter what announcement is made, whether it is liked or disliked by some individuals, it is for your well being, for the people’s well being, for the movement’s well being. The decision will be reached on this basis only.

The Liberation Panthers is the only movement that organizes two struggles per week! We organize at least ten struggles per month. Even if a struggle is suddenly announced, Thirumaavalavan makes an announcement in this way, without frustration, I am dutifully bound to say thank you to the Liberation Panthers, the light of my life, who have mobilized together. The Liberation Panthers are the only party in Tamil Nadu that immediately responded to the genocide of our Tamil brothers in Eelam. The Liberation Panthers honor our elder brother Suba. Tamilselvan by installing a photograph of him in our office after his assassination by the Sinhala racist gang.9 Tamilselvan, who was a dove of peace, conducted negotiations with international countries while traveling openly and unarmed. He wanted peace to reign throughout the world.

Similarly, when the great solider Saddam Hussein was hung to death I immediately thought that this action must be condemned. I received information that many people from organizations such as the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, the India National League, and the Thavukiith Jamaath were engaged in a road rokko in the Thousand Lights district. Because of this, all the Liberation Panthers rushed to that place, joined them, and participated in the demonstration.

Today while Sun TV was showing all of the photographs of Saddam Hussein my eyes were brimming with tears; my chest was in agony; I wondered what sort of brave soldier this man was. To what great extent was this leader courageous? His situation was like that of an orphan without anyone to protect him. This world, while enjoying the scene of him standing with bound hands, took revenge and hung this brave soldier. There was not even one person with the courage to prevent this. I was in agony realizing that no country has the courage to intervene. The international fear monger (terrorist) known as American imperialism is staging so many atrocities of this nature.

Who is responsible for Tamil Eelam still not receiving freedom? It is not the Sinhala racist Rajapaksa; it is American imperialism! Who is responsible for assassinating Tamilselvan? It is not the Sinhala racist gang; the responsibility lies with the advanced radar equipment supplied by the American CIA and the Indian government. It is said that through the use of advanced radar equipment the American CIA was able to track the Tamil Tiger’s international peace secretary. Through this they were able to track general Tamilselvan’s movements. Also, it is said that the American imperialists challenged themselves to track the honorable Tamil Eelam leader Prabakaran. The American expectation was that ‘Tamil Eelam and Eelam Tamils should not received liberation; also, the war [against the Tamil Tigers] should not take rest [until it achieves victory].’

Today the Indian empire is being converted into a modern colony, into a slave country under the control of America. It does not act on its own behalf. The Indian government acts only as America says. If America says to sign the nuclear energy pact, India signs it. If it says to sign the ‘GAT agreement’, India signs it. If America says to welcome Rajapaksa, India welcomes him. If America says to give advanced radar equipment to the Sinhala racist gang, India gives it. So, India never acts on its own empire’s behalf; it hears only what America says.

Even during Saddam Hussein’s murder, India stood with its mouth closed and only said, ‘don’t villianize America.’ In this situation, there are some areas where we can join together; we must unite in those areas. We can still join together without our Islamic brothers’ approval of Tamil Eelam. They are welcome to have a different opinion. It is not necessary for us to move away from each other because of that issue. The Babri Mosque must rise again on the same ground; we can stand united on this issue! We will join hands on this issue! The Liberation Panthers exist as an organization for this purpose.

In this meeting several individuals spoke about the Indian legal system. Today there are so many Muslim organizations such as the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Karazham that organize many different struggles. In particular, the context motivating these struggles frequently involves the courts. They accentuate the courts’ bias. Under the Indian legal system, actor Salman Khan was incarcerated for the offense of killing a deer. But Narendra Modi while sitting atop his throne in the Gujarati government personally witnessed the slaughter of human beings. As soon as the case for killing a deer was lodged, the legal system issued a punishment. For fifteen years a case has not been lodged for the demolition of the Babri Mosque; they do not want to conduct an inquiry. Here the Justice Department, the Administrative Department, the Legal Department all operated as formal bodies perpetuating hindutva. Because of that only, they have arrogantly imposed a maximum reservation limit of only 50%. Who has the authority to cap reservations? Who gave this authority to them? Did the Indian Penal Code grant this authority to the courts? Did it give judges the authority to meddle with reservations? With whom can we ask? Comrades, the harsh reality is that until we unite as a political force, until we make these demands, until we project forward our voices, no one in this country will ask such questions.

So, today there is a historical need for Dalits, Muslims, Christians, and other democratic forces to unite as one. Today not Dalits and people from minority communities are joining the Liberation Panthers Party. I will repeat once again, that this remembrance meeting has not been arranged so that all of you will join our party; this is a basic principle of our party (to honor the martyrs).

It is not a dream to speak about Dalit-Muslim solidarity here; it is not a figment of our imagination; we must make this into a reality. In order to achieve this goal, we must develop a strategy. In the coming time the Babri Mosque must be rebuilt! They (BJP, etc.) joined hands for the sake of its demolition; we must lead this movement by joining hands for the sake of the mosque’s reconstruction!

So, we will speak and join together. We will take a principled stance! It is my desire that a whirlwind of liberation be kindled among the rubble of the burnt cheris and demolished mosques! Here I will honor our affectionate brother who was incarcerated for condemning the assassination of Tamilselvan by draping a shawl. That younger brother alone must come to the stage now. Having spoken, I want to express my wholehearted gratitude to all of the Muslim community members and to the Liberation Panthers, the light of my life, who participated in this public meeting.

Written by plcflash

June 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm