Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stalin, DMK activists arrested for trying to picket Sri Lankan Mission

Chennai, March 5, 2013

Stepping up pressure on Congress-led UPA Government, its key southern ally DMK on Tuesday demanded that India support the US-sponsored resolution at the UNHRC against Sri Lanka as over 4,000 people staged a protest against Colombo's alleged war crimes.
The resolution at UNHRC "will certainly succeed. Our strong demand is that India should also cooperate," DMK chief M. Karunanidhi told reporters.
Mr. Karunanidhi's son and DMK Treasurer M.K. Stalin led the protest under the banner of party-backed TESO (Tamil Eelam Supporters' Organisation) and as the 4000-strong protesters set out on a march to picket the Sri Lankan Deputy High Commission here there were arrested, police said.
Besides Mr. Stalin, other prominent leaders arrested included Dravidar Kazhagam chief K Veeramani and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) founder and Lok Sabha member Thol Thirumavalavan.
The protestors raised slogans such as asking the Centre not to betray Tamils and not to underestimate Tamils' sentiments as they insisted that India support the US initiative.
Mr. Karunanidhi, who has been vocal in recent months on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue and revived the TESO, said theprotest was not just confined to the city but also held in different parts of the state.
The Centre should realise that these were not the efforts of one particular party but the "united voice" of people of Tamil Nadu, he said.
Government should "at least now come forward" to ensure the welfare of Eelam Tamils, he said adding "We hope Centre will come forward to better the livelihood" of Tamils.
In Delhi, DMK MPs attended Parliament wearing black shirts after staging a protest inside the Parliament House complex.
DMK Rajya Sabha member Kanimozhi said Tuesday's protest was aimed at pressing the central government to make its stand clear on the US-sponsored resolution. India had supported a similar resolution last year.
She demanded India support the resolution and sought fresh probe into alleged human rights violations in Sri Lanka, saying New Delhi should take the initiative in moving any such resolution in the future.
The Sri Lankan Tamils issue has generated heat again in Tamil Nadu in recent weeks following the alleged cold-blooded killing of slain LTTE chief V Prabakaran's 12 year-old son Balachandran, a charge denied by Colombo.
The issue was also raised in Rajya Sabha last week when DMK along with AIADMK and Left parties staged a walk out dissatisfied with the government's reply. The issue is likely to be discussed in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The Government has taken the stand that it cannot foreclose its position on the resolution, saying it would depend on actions taken by Sri Lanka.


Tagore favoured Buddhist control over Bodh Gaya shrine

Abdul Qadir
GAYA: Buddhist demanding undiluted control over the Bodh Gaya shrine management got a shot in the arm as researchers have come across an article penned by Nobel laureate Rabindra Nath Tagore favouring Buddhist control over the Bodh Gaya shrine, the seat of Buddha's enlightenment.

The Martibhumi journal article, written by Tagore in the year 1922, almost three decades after Angarika Dharmapala, a Buddhist missionary from
Sri Lanka launched the struggle for Buddhist control over the shrine and subsequently established Mahabodhi Society for the revival of Buddhism in the land of its birth.

"I am sure it will be admitted by all Hindus who are true to their own ideals that it is an intolerable wrong to allow the temple raised on the spot where Buddha attained enlightenment to remain under the control of rival sect, which can neither have an intimate knowledge of, nor respect for Buddhist religion and its right of worship" wrote Tagore.

Attempts to find a solution to the somewhat vexed issue of Buddha shrine management have been going on for quite sometime now. Whereas the neo Buddhists want the Temple Act 1949 repealed to pave the way for the constitution of an all-Buddhist committee to manage the shrine affairs, former governor RS Gavai and religious trust board chief
Acharya Kishor Kunal worked on a compromise formula to end the controversy.

As per the Gavai-Kunal formula, the Hindu representation in the nine-man committee has to be brought down to four from the existing five to make the temple management committee more balanced. Besides reducing the number of Hindus in the temple Committee, the Gavai-Kunal formula also wanted the post of committee chairman to be made religious neutral and the post of secretary reserved for the Buddhists.

According to the existing Act, the Gaya district magistrate is the ex officio chairman of the committee provided he/she is a Hindu. In the case of Gaya DM being a non-Hindu, the state government is under obligation to nominate a Hindu as the chairman of the temple committee. Such a situation has arisen only once ever since the Act came into being in the year 1949. When KM Zuberi became Gaya DM in the sixties of the last century, the state government nominated Jugeshwar Prasad Khalish, MLC, as the chairman of the shrine management committee.

A final call on the Gavai-Kunal formula is to be taken by the state government.

Congress team briefs Rahul about TESO meet

CHENNAI, March 6, 2013
B. Kolappan

The conference is to be held in Delhi on March 7
Seeking to dispel the impression that the Congress is indifferent to popular sentiment in Tamil Nadu on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue, party MPs and Union Ministers have briefed AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi about the need to participate in the Tamil Eelam Supporters Organisation (TESO) conference to be held in Delhi on March 7.
The meeting of Congress Ministers and MPs from the State with Mr. Gandhi came a few days after DMK Parliamentary Party leader T.R. Baalu and Rajya Sabha member MP Kanimozhi met him.
“There is no word officially yet about our participation. Mr. Rahul Gandhi has asked AICC general secretary Gulam Nabi Azad to discuss the issue with party president Sonia Gandhi to take a decision,” TNCC president B.S. Gnanadesikan told The Hindu.
He, however, made it clear that the Congress would not subscribe to the DMK’s view that a separate ‘Tamil Eelam alone would be a solution to Sri Lankan Tamil question.
“We are with the Tamils and want to secure rights for them on a par with the Sinhalese. But we want to achieve everything within a united Sri Lanka. We told Mr. Rahul Gandhi that we should participate in the [TESO] conference and reiterate our views,” Mr Gnanadesikan said.
Congress MP K.S. Alagiri, representing Cuddalaore Lok Sabha Constituency, said it was his personal opinion that the Congress needed a platform to articulate its views on Sri Lankan Tamils issue and that TESO could provide one.
“We cannot sit with Vaiko or Nedumaran or some other groups and discuss the Tamil issue. We are against the LTTE; we are against its leader Prabakaran and we are also against a separate Eelam. But we are with the Tamil people,” Mr Alagiri said.
Reiterating that if only the Indo-Sri Lankan accord of 1987 had been allowed to be implemented, it would have secured the Tamils in the country a state like Tamil Nadu, Mr. Alagiri said Rajiv Gandhi’s efforts were brought to nought by the LTTE.
“Now we need a platform to campaign for the rights of the Tamils and I feel TESO could fulfill our objective,” he said.
Union Ministers P. Chidambaram, G.K. Vasan and Jayanthi Natarajan were among those who were part of the delegation that met Mr. Gandhi.
Sources in the DMK said Mr. Gandhi was very receptive and was keen on maintaining rapport with the party’s regional allies in the run-up to Lok Sabha elections due next year.

Death of an asylum seeker from Sri Lanka

March 6, 2013
FMT LETTER: From Sarah Devaraj, via e-mail
On March 1, 2013, Jesumalar, a Sri Lankan, received a phone call from the Immigration Department that her husband Krishnanantham had died at about 2am on Feb 28 at the Seremban Hospital. Krishnanantham was earlier detained in Lenggeng Detention Center on Sept 28, 2012 for not having legal documents.
The deceased was admitted to Seremban hospital on Feb 27 and died at about 2am the next day. At all times, Jesumalar was not informed of the condition and the status of her husband’s detention.
Sargeant Shahril of Lenggeng Police Station, the officer in charge of the case informed the family that a post mortem was performed on the deceased on Feb 28 and the doctors had suspected that he died of poison from rat urine and that they would conduct further tests.
On March 1, lawyer Viswanathan together with Jesumalar and Suaram went to the Seremban Hospital to identify Krishnanantham’s body. However, they were not allowed to do so. The Forensic Department claimed that the police and Magistrate had not viewed the body and that a postmortem had not been performed, a stark contrast to what Sargeant Sharil had told the family earlier.
The family was also told that the police and Magistrate had to be present in order for the family to view the body. In contradiction, the questionable post mortem was later performed without the presence of the Magistrate and the police, as confirmed by the Forensic Department.
The deceased, Jesumalar and son, Abishek had previously made an application to be registered as refugees to the UNHCR, however, the applications were rejected. Suaram urges the UNHCR to reassess Jesumalar and Abishek’ application.
The family had faced imminent threat to their lives in Sri Lanka and were forced seek refuge in Malaysia. Now their sole breadwinner is dead and his body will not be released until a letter of release is obtained from the High Commission of Sri Lanka, the Immigration Department and the police.
Suaram condemns the negligence of the forensic team. The procedural irregularities were apparent even in the presence family and their lawyer. Suaram is gravely concerned for those who are not legally represented who had, or will face similar fate.
Suaram demands the government to immediately conduct an inquest into the death of Krishnanantham. Ultimately, Suaram urges the government to immediately ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees to protect and uphold the rights of asylum-seekers to life, safety and livelihood.