The Church roots of separatist Tamil quest
The quest to separate Sri Lanka has seen participation from a multitude of players using different tactics for different objectives, and over the years, their efforts have intermingled.
The Western Christian missionaries arrived to grab land and increase their flock by converting people and killing those that refused to convert. Sadly, history has erased their crimes, and even given some of them sainthoods.
Land was grabbed by dividing the people. Ethnic labels were designed, people were divided into classes, people were given titles, and thus religious divisions were created. A divided society made to hate each other was created, as well as the belief that they should create separate domains for their own.
This was how the concept of Dravida Nadu (a separate state for the Dravidian people) was created by missionaries that arrived in India, most notably by Bishop Robert Caldwell. The Dravida Nadu project, which comprised several states of South India, did not materialise, and Tamil Nadu separatism became the next project. This project was planted by Christian missionaries and promoted by them, and took place far before the pillow was passed to Sri Lanka.
The tactic used by the Christian missionaries was to play on the dream of a separate homeland for Tamils. The desire for a separate State was created by missionaries, who turned it into a problem and a demand, while they continued to act as the resolutionists, having created the problem. Their solution was to not resolve the problem for those they claim required a separate State, but to create a State where they ruled over the people as they did during the Colonial era. It is important to understand this reality.
Thus, the missionaries initially planted the seed of a separate Tamil State in India. It saw numerous efforts, demands, and protests, which eventually resulted in the Indian Government banning any separatist quest via the 16th Amendment to the Indian Constitution, passed in 1963.
The Christian missionaries, meanwhile, were also toying with Christian Tamil leaders in Sri Lanka. When most Tamils are Hindus, do you not wonder why a handful of Christian Tamils would come forward to demand a separate State? Why are the Tamil Hindus not spearheading the quest? The handful of Hindus associated with these programmes are namesake pseudo-Hindus, and have probably joined the new “born-again” movement.
This is why Malaysian-born S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, who founded the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK) and the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), landed to spearhead the effort in Sri Lanka, playing on the psyche of the Tamil people, having planted in their minds a fictitious dream of a separate State. This was the carrot that continues to be used by the same players – initially planted by missionaries, and later used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), faith-funded organisations, and civil society – all cloaked in different garb, but hiding the same quest.
While they deem fit to use their religion camouflaged in various means to advance their agendas, they object to other religions doing the same. Thus, anything that poses a threat to their agenda, they come out in numbers to protest against, but they take offence when their covert or overt actions are pointed out.
There has been little objection to the logic of an inclusive society by allowing the formation of ethnically labelled political parties that claim to espouse only one ethnic group. The bulk of registered political parties in Sri Lanka that contribute to dividing their communities against the majority are either Tamil or Muslim. Any effort towards inclusivity or reconciliation is useless when such divisive ethno-religious political parties exist.
Ethnic-based demands like that of separate ethno-religious states are even encouraged by Western politicians and Western media, including the United Nations (UN). Where does this lead, when the same entities preach “togetherness” and “unity” and attempt to use well-funded programmes and initiatives as camouflage, while covertly driving divisive agendas?
A deeply divided caste-stricken Tamil society claiming to want to live in a separate State once again highlights that the quest is not for the Tamil society, but for those pulling the strings on the psyche and minds of the Tamil society. This was best presented when, in spite of the ITAK being formed in 1949 for a Tamil State and the Official Language Act being passed in 1956, other than a handful of small protests by Tamil politicians (not the Tamil people), it was only in 1957 that the Tamil politicians sailed to UK to object to the Social Disabilities Act that enabled Tamils of low caste to enter schools and study. The unanswered question is this: Why didn’t the Tamil politicians set sail for the UK against the Official Language Act, but set sail to the UK against the Act that allowed low-caste Tamils to study?
It was this same lot that protested against low-caste Tamils who went on to draft the Vaddukoddai Resolution, seeking a separate State and calling on the youth to take up arms. It was probably the same brains that outsourced the struggle to the youth and thought they could watch until leadership was handed back to them. The youth were not high-caste Tamils, but of low castes. Not a single high-caste Tamil youth became a child soldier or a combatant. Eventually, they began erasing high-caste Tamil politicians from the political scene. Eventually, the youth returned to the real handlers, the Church, who through its proxies, was steering them from behind the scenes.
What we need to realise is that every action by Tamil political leaders, since the early 1900s to post-Independence, has had Western influence behind it. Unfortunately, India too has fallen prey via the same players, and though Hindu fundamentalism is an often-promoted derogative slogan, it will be no surprise if Hindu fundamentalists are also unknowingly manoeuvred by the same missionary elements. It was by tapping into India’s desire to pass its headache to Sri Lanka that India was coerced into agreeing to train Sri Lankan Tamil youth. The impact of the missionary movement in South India will reveal the extent to which Tamil Nadu is being ruled, though for the purpose of balance, a sudden Hindu fanatic element will be brought forward, simply to fool the masses into believing that Hindus rule India. A similar scenario is being rolled out in Sri Lanka as well. Buddhists are made to believe they are the majority, but when one sees the allegiance of the players that make the decisions, it is another story.
That which former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi intended, and what her son, another former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi – with his Catholic wife’s influence – ultimately did, with Sri Lanka, again showcases the hidden hands that steer policy. This was how the issue was turned “ethnic”, the interim solution became “quasi-federal”, the bid became self-determination, and the ultimate quest is to separate Sri Lanka – not for Tamils, but for the invisible hands that are steering this quest. Tamils are the scapegoat to achieving the quest. Poverty enables them to hire protestors, media helps drive the notion of the need to separate, and persons and organisations are hired hands to advance that agenda.
People need to truly sit back and analyse the issue for themselves instead of falling prey to propaganda.
(The writer is an independent political analyst who writes on a broad range of topics, and was previously the International Human Rights Commission’s Goodwill Ambassador for Sri Lanka)
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of this publication.