On March 8th, the students of Loyola College embarked on a fast demanding rights and justice for the Sri Lankan Tamils who are being treated brutally by the Sri Lankan army, the Tamils who have almost lost faith in God and who have forgotten the existence of peace. Agitations arose when the eight-member-ed team from Loyola was arrested by the TamilNadu police on 11th. When common people thought that such tension among students can be put to an end by mere arrests by the police department, students from across the city proved everyone wrong by surprising them with a series of strikes commencing on 12th March.

Similar to the current scenario, protests took place in the year 2009 in India, UK, Australia and Canada, urging the world leaders to bring a unanimous ceasefire agreements to the Sri Lankan Civil War which has been taking place for over 25 years. Even after the Civil War came to an end, at the end of the year, protests and demonstrations continued, demanding governments to undertake a war-crimes inspection in Sri Lanka.

In the year 1983, LTTE, the militant organization went against the Sri Lankan Government and demanded a separate Tamil state which led to the civil war that in which the Tamil Tigers were defeated by the Sri Lankan military forces. After many years of struggle and years of failed peace agreements, conflicts that centered on particular sects turned out to cause a Civil War in which 80000-100000 persons were killed and many more injured. Even international intervention couldn’t stop Eelam Wars ll and lll. It was a moment of happiness in Sri Lanka when LTTE leader Prabhakaran was declared dead on 18th May 2009. Although it was a relief that the military operation was finally over, it was troubling that so many innocent civilians were killed in the course.

Tensions between LTTE and Sri Lanka prevailed but just when people thought that things are pretty much under control, the sensitivities of students in Tamil Nadu heated up when a British broadcasting channel released pictures of Prabhakaran’s 12 year old son lying cold and dead after being shot on the chest five times by the Sri Lankan Army. Protests began, an initiative by Loyola College students that proved to be a kick start for other colleges to continue the strikes, gaining momentum. Initially, the main agenda behind the strikes was to get justice for the Sri Lankan Tamils but the strikes went on to oppose the Central Government as political parties started influencing these strikes.

“All we want is to declare Sri Lankan Army and the Rajapaksa Government as accused of genocide and we want the Indian Government to take necessary measures to ensure the bill be passed in favour of the Sri Lankan Tamils at a new sitting in the UN in September”, says Pushkin, a student from a Chennai based Law College. When asked why the strikes involved violence Pushkin claimed that only violence reaches the Central Government and peaceful protests would take the agenda nowhere. Opposing this, Mr.Ashok Xavier Gladstone, belonging to the department of social work, Loyola College said “violence and agitation is definitely not a key to a quick solution. Silent protests can gain as much attention as violence, except it takes time. Students are a lot distracted by what the media portrays and they do not have the patience to wait till silence protests gain impulse.”

A 30-year-old man died after setting himself ablaze in Chennai over Sri Lankan Tamils’ issue as protests continued against the island nation’s government across the state. He is the second person to immolate himself in the on-going protests. Such acts are often branded as acts of bravery. But what sort of bravery is this when people who call themselves sensitive over the issue immolate themselves rather than being a part of the situation and doing something about it until a solution is arrived at?

Mr.Gladstone feels that how much ever people fight for the rights of Tamils, how much ever support other countries give for the Tamil, there is no end to the situation for he thinks that if a chance was to come, it would have, many years ago and he strongly hopes that one day the public realizes that. One fails to understand that the scenario in Sri Lanka has become far better and that the Tamils across the country no more flee to neighboring countries as refugees. It is nice to see the socially aware students fight for the rights of a minority community but it is essential for them to also be politically aware of the situation.

-Aishvarya Gopalakrishnan

Ethiraj college

 

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