Remembering Thanthai Chelva!

“He died like Moses himself without reaching the promised land but the vision he saw, he leaves behind as the heritage and challenge to his people.” – Rt.Rev D.J. Ambalavanar at the funeral of Thanthai Chelva, April 1977

Looking back at the history of Sri Lanka, then known as “Lanka” in Sinhala and in Tamil Ilankai (I+Lanka+I) has throughout the ages the two communities Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination.

During the struggle for independence, the Tamils were the vanguard with the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. On gaining independence they made every effort to secure their political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united country.

Regrettably, successive Sri Lankan governments used the power of sovereignty common to both the Sinhalese and the Tamils that flows from independence. To deny the Tamils their fundamental rights and reduce them to the position of ruled and the people lost their paradise and the rest is history.

As it is clear today for the Tamils remembering their founding leader ‘Thanthai Chelva’ accept that no issue was insurmountable, despite decades of mutual distrust and suspicions, between the Tamil polity and society on the one hand, and the Sri Lankan State and Sinhala-Buddhist political masters on the other.

Now it may be time for the stake-holders within the nation to take a more pragmatic position, sit down and sort out their historic differences between themselves without involving third nations, regions or organisations.

In this scenario, the initiative now rest with the Government and they need to carry the moderate Tamils for a final negotiated settlement for permanent peace and prosperity of the country.
Further, as this government alone is not the only one to blame, the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist would accept whatever they agreed on the other’s behalf in the name of a permanent political solution!