The recent attacks on Sri Lankan pilgrims in Tamil Nadu is a bully's game to garner political mileage.
THE STATE of Tamil Nadu has always been known for its hospitality and tolerance. It is this image that has taken a beating recently thanks to the antics of certain pro-Eelam fringe political outfits and the AIADMK government. Betraying a total lack of statesmanship and political sagacity, the Chief Minister, Jayalalitha, banned a friendly football match between a visiting Sri Lankan school team and a school in Chennai. Upping the ante, the fringe outfits attacked buses ferrying Sri Lankan tourists to pilgrimage spots, marking a new low in Indo-Sri Lankan relations.
Games of political brinksmanship are not new but such actions reek of cheap, bullying tactics rather than righteous protest. By condemning these shameful incidents, the DMK patriarch, Karunanidhi, has revealed that he is more of a statesman than the current Chief Minister. With the LTTE decimated, it is time to move on and write a new chapter in Indo-Lankan relations. The way forward lies in strengthening bilateral ties of trade and cultural contacts. With China’s giant shadow looming over the sub-continent, India
cannot afford to alienate a friendly neighbour by humiliating its nationals who visit our shores.
We often boast that ours is a country which believes in the maxim, “Athithi devo bhava” or “the guest is god”. Like many other boasts, including the one that describes India as a superpower, this too has proved hollow. Velupillai Prabhakaran and the LTTE now belong, hopefully, only to history books. A new era beckons—an era of peace, trust and mutual respect. The sabre-rattling politicians ought to remember that trade and livelihood in both countries will take a hit if such incidents are allowed to recur.
Sri Lanka is home to a sizeable population of Tamilians. Hostile acts against Sri Lankan citizens will, in the long run, impact their well-being in their adopted homeland. Tamil Nadu’s fishing community is also dependent on the goodwill of the Sri Lankan government. Keeping such realities in mind, the fringe outfits and the state government would do well to tone down their rhetoric and stop flexing their muscles. The people of Tamil Nadu are too intelligent to be swayed by such unimaginative and hackneyed political games.