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Indians need three years to clear mines

[TamilNet, Monday, 3 August 2009 12:19 No Comment]

It will take one-and-a-half to two years to do away with most land mines and another year to declare the areas safe for habitation, reported Times of India, Sunday, citing Indian Army’s retired Major General Prem K. Puri who is heading one of the Indian outfits engaged in de-mining the North and East. Meanwhile, 82 more former Indian soldiers have gone to Sri Lanka last week to join the hundreds or perhaps thousands already operating under the care of Colombo’s National Steering Committee. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s insistence on ‘de-mining first’ to free civilians from the concentration camps and India sitting on international intervention raise serious concern in Tamil circles, how long both the Establishments are going to continue the ‘human shield’ in fulfilling their agenda.

Colombo has already started telling resettlement not possible in 180 days pledged by it. Now the Indians are echoing it, going back to Colombo’s original scheme for three years, Tamil circles pointed out.

According to General Puri, "From a distance it might seem as if we are working slowly. That is not so. We have to clear every bit of land carefully, inch by inch. It is a meticulous operation," Times of India reported.

The Indian outfits are now operating in the districts of Mannaar, Vavuniyaa, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampaa’rai.

The strategic and economic interests of India and chauvinistic schedule of the Sinhala state have forged a long-term agenda of grabbing land and demographic changes in the Tamil homeland, which they consider a vanquished territory, Tamil circles said.

Addressing the Andra Chamber of Commerce last Monday, Colombo’s Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai, P.M. Amza (posted to London now), invited South Indian investment to the ‘Special Economic Zones’ in the North and East planned by Colombo in Trincomalee and Ki’linochchi.

According to Mr Amza, reported by The Hindu’s Business Line, agriculture (including food processing and dairy), fisheries, infrastructure and tourism are some sectors offering tremendous opportunities for Indian industry in these provinces ‘especially after the end of conflict.’

The diplomat’s invitation coincides with what M S Swaminathan envisages for Eezham Tamils. A people’s group in Tamil Nadu recently said the idea of Swaminathan Foundation was to convert Eezham Tamils, especially their womenfolk, as bonded labour force in their own land while keeping the men in camps.

In one of her recent writings, Listening to Grasshoppers: Field Notes on Democracy, Arunthati Roy has aptly said what is in the mind of the Indian Establishment, even about its own people in India:

“The battle for land lies at the heart of the ‘development’ debate. Before he became India’s finance minister, P. Chidambaram was Enron’s lawyer and member of the board of directors of Vedanta, a multinational mining corporation that is currently devastating the Niyamgiri hills in Orissa. Perhaps his career graph informed his worldview. Or maybe it’s the other way around. In an interview a year ago, he said that his vision was to get 85 per cent of India’s population to live in cities. Realising this ‘vision’ would require social engineering on an unimaginable scale. It would mean inducing, or forcing, about five hundred million people to migrate from the countryside into cities. That process is well under way and is quickly turning India into a police state in which people who refuse to surrender their land are being made to do so at gunpoint. Perhaps this is what makes it so easy for P. Chidambaram to move so seamlessly from being finance minister to being home minister. The portfolios are separated only by an osmotic membrane. Underlying this nightmare masquerading as ‘vision’ is the plan to free up vast tracts of land and all of India’s natural resources, leaving them ripe for corporate plunder. In effect, to reverse the post-independence policy of land reforms.”

The Tamil circles in the diaspora said the West is no different in its approach in exploiting the plight of Tamils for its advantages in the island. They cited the liberal grants of loan to Colombo without any effort to restore the sovereignty of Tamils in their homeland or even at least recognising it.

It is time the Eezham Tamils realise the universal dimension of their struggle, hemmed between a genocidal Sinhala state and the geopolitical greed of powers and realise that this struggle has now entered into a phase having bearings to entire human civilisation. Unless Eezham Tamils take appropriate moves in asserting to their sovereignty in their homeland, bargain and convince powers at an international level that nothing could be smooth without Tamils handling their own affairs including development, it is futile to expect any freedom emerging for them from the present manoeuvres in the island, the Tamil circles said.

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