PLANTATION TAMILS PLIGHT AS STATELESS PEOPLE

 TAMILS  OF INDIAN ORIGIN MADE STATELESS 

Daily Thanthi, the leading Tamil daily published a news about the National Executive meeting of Samata party to be held at Vijayawada on 15/16 th of June 2002 under the title “In Elangai Peace talks India should cooperate and strive together with Norway: Pondicherry Dravida Peravai urges” Pondicherry Dravida Peravai General Secretary Nandhivarman had told that India should work together with Norway in Srilankan peace talks.

Samata National Executive

Last time the National Executive of Samata party was held at Mysore on 8 th January 2001.After that a long interregnum was there. Meeting was postponed. Now on June 15 th and 16 th in the Lohia Nagar at Vijayawada, Siddhartha Hall the National Executive and National Council are meeting. In the high command of Samata Party’s National Executive three political parties were getting special invites from 1997. The Nagaland People’s party leader and former Chief Minister Mr.Vamuzo is no more. The Mizoram People’s Conference Leader and former Chief Minister Brigadier T.S.Sailo M.L.A could not attend due to ill health. Pondicherry Dravida Peravai alone continues to participate in the National Executive meetings and raising various issues of national importance. Before leaving for Vijayawada Dravida Peravai General Secretary Nandhivarman met the press people and told as follows:

It is not correct on the part of India to keep aloof from the peace talks and India must cooperate with Norway in the Srilankan peace talks. In between 1871 and 1881 when lot of coffee and tea estates mushroomed in Srilanka to work there lot of Tamils went from here. They constituted 10 percent of the Srilankan population. Donoughmore Commission constituted before independence told in 1928 that among the plantation labour 50 percent were permanently residing there. The Jackon Report of 1928 gave the figure at 60 percent. The Soul bury Commission constituted in 1946 told that 80 percent of plantation labour are permanently living in Srilanka.

Disenfranchisement

Donoughmore Commission recommended in 1928 that citizenship should be given to those who live there more than 5 years. Ceylonese Government did not accept the recommendation. A problem came to the fore. In 1940 both India and Ceylon deliberated this issue. In 1941 once again a bi-partite conference between India and Ceylon took place. The agreed agreement signed by both countries in the conference was not implemented by Ceylon. But in 1942 for the sake of economic development, the Government of Ceylon requested India to permit plantation labour to come to their country.

1947, in the first general election all plantation labour had voting rights. They supported the Ceylon Indian Congress and elected 7 members to Parliament. The plantation labour remained deciding factor in the victory of 20 Member of Parliament constituencies.

So the first Prime Minister T.S.Senanayaka brought an amendment to article 8 in 1948 and snatched the voting rights of plantation Tamils. Parliamentary Elections amendment Act 1949 was enacted; all Indian born Ceylonese citizens were removed from electoral rolls. This is how the voting rights of plantation labour who could send 7 members of parliament were disenfranchised. Then Indian born Ceylonese were told to apply for citizenship. Nearly 8,25,000 people applied for citizenship but only 1,00,000 persons were conferred with citizenship.

Pacts

To resolve this issue in 1953 Ceylonese Prime Minister Dudley Senanayaka and Indian Prime Minister Nehru had talks in London but in vain. In 1954 Ceylonese Prime Minister Sit John Kotewala and Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru signed a pact, but it was not implemented.

In 1964 between Indian Prime Minister Lalbahadur Sastri and Ceylon Prime Minister Mrs.Bandaranaike signed a pact. Ceylon agreed to grant citizenship and India agreed to take back 5,25,000 persons.

Dravidian Parties have forgotten

Present day Americans were settlers from Europe. No European country foolishly signed a pact to take back these settlers. After signing such a pact India still has left 2,00,000 people in Ceylon. India is looking into the Srilankan problem as a problem between Ealam Tamils, the natives of that soil and forgets the plight of its own citizens in alien soil.

Dravidian parties too have forgotten the plantation labours who are our own sons of soil. To resolve the issue of plantation labour affected by the pact between two countries and to press for India’s participation in the peace talks we will deliberate at Vijayawada National executive, Nandhivarman told

 [Translation of news in Daily Thanthi 15.06.2002 page 6 Pondicherry Edition]

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