அறிஞர் அண்ணாவின் கட்டுரைகள்


Mr. Bandaranaik, the Prime Minister of Ceylon, is happy holidaying at Nuwara Eliya, a hill-station situated a hundred and twenty miles away from Colombo. None grudges him this whoopee! But, while he is fiddling, his men are having a devil-dance around the fire that they have lit—and what is burning happens to be the hovel of the unfortunate Tamilians.

Tamilian Leaders are put in jails. Tamilian blood is being shed! Tamilians are terrorised, hunted out and harassed. Business is paralysed. The women and children are in a state of shock and scare. The Movement for the maintenance of self-respect has been launched and the elected representatives of the people are sent to prison. There is tumult in Ceylon and the Tamilians are in tears.

What has the 'Tamilian Government at Madras done? It has not even cared to take note of the situation. It is busy with its campaign of vilification against the D.M.K.

And of course Delhi is concerned with arming Bhakshi with means and money, mettle and vigour to withstand the onslaught of Sheik Abdulla. Delhi is so full of this pet problem, that it considers this Ceylon Problem to be a matter of minor importance.

The Banda Government is determined to show to its Sinhalese supporters, that in the matter of ruthlessly putting down the Tamilians, it would outbeat Kothalawalas. Bandaranaik, who was hailed as a statesman of rare abilities, as one who has confidence in the wholesome principle of sweet reasonableness, is now appearing in true colours. He who was pleading for concord and amity is today out hunting.

His present attitude is attributed to the wave of unrest that has arisen in his party camp. Some of his supporters, it is said, did not want him to be so soft—and weak. They goaded him on, it is said, to this path of fire and sword.

Of course, there is a grain of truth in this explanation. Whichever party attempts to control the Ceylon Government, must necessarily pander to the tastes of the mass of Sinhalese who are being tutored by fanatics. So, each party in Ceylon has to compete with the other, to prove that it is more Sinhalese than all other parties. In this race for supremacy, the various political parties in Ceylon, are led to become more and more antagonistic to the Tamilian interests and aspirations.

Tamilians in Ceylon have seen many a change in the political scenery, but find their lot getting worse day by day. One butcher is as savage as another, for everyone of them are our for our blood—sighs the Tamilian in Ceylon.

Had there been a more responsive and sympathetic Government at Madras, it would have gone to any lengths to convince Delhi, that the problem should not be shirked, as it involves the lives and future of millions of Tamilians, who for many generations have enriched Ceylon, by their sweat and blood.
But, the Congress Ministry at Madras is gloating over the fact, that it is safely saddled. The one and only aim dear to this government, is to be in the good books of the masters at Delhi—and it is not in the least worried about what happens to the Tamilians in Ceylon. "Why should this Government worry about distant Ceylon? Are these Ceylon Tamilians voters? They need not, therefore be cajoled or cared for! If Banda butchers them, well, we can't help it. Why not lie low and lick his boots. They have gone there as coolies! Haven't they? Well serfs should not aspire for self-respect. If they get their morsel, they should be tearful. Dare they demand justice and fairplay—political equality and other precious luxuries?"—that seems to be the logic behind the Madras Government's silence, inaction, and indifference.

Harassed by the Banda Regime, neglected by Delhi and uncared for by Madras, millions of Tamilians, are languishing, struggling against odds—with no succour, no word of solace or encouragement from any quarter.

From the cool heights of Nuwara Eliya, Mr. Bandaranaik, has issued a statement—abrogating the pact with the Tamilian leaders—which means, to all intents and purposes, that there is to be a struggle to the bitter ends.

Mr. Banda's pact with the Federal leaders, to ward off dangerous repercussions due to the Tamilian agitation, was hailed as a fine piece of statesmanship. None but one schooled in the art of forging friendship even amidst tumult and trouble, could have registered such a signal achievement.

The 'Pact' was welcomed by one and all—for, by this stroke of diplomacy, Mr. Bhandaranaik, showed to the world that he could rise above passions and petty prejudices.

The 'Times' of London paid rich tributes to Mr. Banda's sagacity and sobriety.

"The statement of the language issue is probably the greatest achievement in the interest of Ceylon of any Prime Minister. Mr. Bandaranaik has averted the greatest crisis that ever threatened his country. For the first time too, he has faced an important problem with little thought for the extremists who have hitherto dogged his steps and made it difficult for him to act according to his own lights."

What has become of this Statesmanship? Or was it after all a sort of ruse? The 'Times' along with many, thought that this 'Pact' would put an end to all the troubles.

"Now that a settlement has been reached, the country breaths freely again. The atmosphere has been cleared of suspicions and the danger of violence has disappeared."

The 'Times' thought, as many others were forced to think, that Mr. Banda would follow this path of piety, nobility and sound politics, and forge a lasting bond of comradeship as between the Tamilians and the Sinhalese. But, such hopes were shattered and many today stand bewildered at the sight of this sober politician assuming an air of fury abrogating the very pact for which he was applauded.

At that time, it was Mr. Banda who eulogised the spirit of compromise and accommodation exhibited by leaders of the Tamilian community. All that is changed and we find an autocrat today.

The Tamilians were at that time so much inflamed, so well prepared for all eventualities, that, the Ceylon Government was not prepared to face the upsurge. Any amount of shooting, would not have caused dismay in the minds of the Tamilians. They were determined to end their serfdom or their very lives. It was then that Mr. Bandaranaik, stopped his sabre-ratting and donned on a smile, and effected a pact.

Now this same pacifist abrogates the pact, which means he is encouraging those who cry hoarse against the Tamilians. He expresses his willingness to join the 'killers' —to join the chorus of 'war-cry' let loose by a section of the Sinhalese, for whom the very sight of a Tamilian is abhorrent.

The Federal leaders having launched, 'Satyagraha', have themselves made the pact a dead letter—not me!—argues the astute politician.

But the common man who is not interested in finery of expression or subtility of argument, asks 'can it be the reason why, a pact should be abrogated by the head of a responsible Government?' They know that the leaders of the Federal party are not a type of men who dash towards rash deeds. They are a set of men who want restraint, reason and responsibility. But when they find the extreme elements in Ceylon, taking law into their own hands, to terrorise Tamilians, and Mr. Banda himself perched up on Nuwara Eliya, what else could they do than announce a Satyagraha to vindicate the honour of the Tamilians?

What prevents Mr. Bandaranaik, from adopting a more tenable and statesmanship policy of attempting to confer with these leaders, before launching his offensive? Mr. Banda complains, through his statement, that the leaders of the Federal party did not inform him about the 'Direct Action'. But prior to this 'direct action' much blood was shed.

Conflict broke out in Ceylon between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. There was a violent wave and four persons were shot dead. What did the leaders of the Tamilians do? Did they exploit the situation for furthering their ends? No! The prime minister himself praised the Tamilian leaders for their sense of responsibility.

Should not Mr. Banda pursue this path of responsibility by convening a conference immediately—to find out ways and means of forging friendship and concord? Instead, we find him hopped upon the cool heights holidaying and from there issuing statements, clouding the entire issue. He talks about 'sinister moves' for 'wider Tamil Nad' sponsored by a group! And he himself refutes his argument when he says, that he is sure no responsible person is backing such moves.

But the question is, 'was it for achieving that objective, that the Federal party has launched Satyagraha?' Certainly not! It is to vindicate a just cause.

The pact, so enthusiastically welcomed by different sections, has to its credit, more breaches than implementation. While the 'pact' assured that Tamil would be guaranteed a reasonable use, in Tamil regions, it was the Sinhalese section that broke the sanctity of the pact, by exhibiting Sinhalese 'Sri' on vehicles. The infuriated Tamilians feared in this, a linguistic onslaught. 'Hence they erased the 'Sri' with tar! Retaliation was let loose, resulting in an outbreak of violence.

It was at this critical stage, that the leaders of the Federal party came out with gestures of good-will and restraint and won even the praise of the prime minister.

It is against such responsible men, that Mr. Bandaranaik, has launched his ugly offensive. His present repudiation of the 'pact' proves only, that Mr. Bandaranaik wants to play to the galleries! His Sinhalese friends, have made of him a convert to the cause of fanaticism. And to screen his own weakness, Mr. Bandaranaik, has issued a statement accusing the Tamilian leaders. But the cat is let out of the bag by one of his colleagues.

Mr. Senanayaka, Minister of Transport, on being questioned by reporters at Madras, is stated to have explained the situation, this way:-
"While the Ceylon government was earnest in giving recognition to Tamil, a situation had now been created by the extremist elements among the Sinhalese which made the position difficult but with patience and good-will on both sides he was sure language issue was bound to be satisfactorily settled"
So, it is the extremist Sinhalese element that is responsible for the worsening of the situation.

And, as if to add fuel to the flame, Mr. Banda, abrogates the pact, to placate and actively encourage the extremists! Is this statesmanship? Or, is it, the Strijdom path?

But, Mr. Banda is not a bit worried. If there is civil disobedience, he has his jails, and means to build new one! If there is commotion, he has his police, and his 'extremists' who know the art of hooliganism. Tamilians have a bleak future before them. They are paving their path of 'righteousness' by their blood and tears while we sit here, with sorrow and remorse choking us, almost into inaction, and our benign government would not budge an inch, to offer their hand of friendship. And at Delhi, Pandit Nehru, is busy packing his luggage for his journey, to the Land of the Lamas.