I also outlined that sequel to the Illanaki Thamil Arasu Katchi teaming up with the United National Party in the aftermath of the 1965 General Election several acts affecting the interests of Tamils took place and I undertook to discuss them in the ensuing articles.
Dudly Senanayake who undertook to bring the bill for the establishment of District Councils in 1965, announces in 1969 that he was unable to honour the pledge consequent opposition by Sinhala Parliamentarians and Buddhist Maha Sangha.
In the context of the Special Tamil Language Provisions Act passed in 1966 not being implemented, Tamil politicians particularly those from Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi who had been advocating aloud from their political platforms that Tamil public servants should not study Sinhala, the official language, since 1956, changed their stand and accepted the provision that new entrants to public service should acquire proficiency in Sinhala up to grade 5. This could in a way be construed as acceptance of the Sinhala Only Act passed by Banadaranaike Government in 1956.
Furthermore, Leaders of Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi supported the bill for the issuance of National Identity Card, through which Tamil people have been easily identified as a distinct ethnic group since 1970. Not only that, they even went to the extent of expelling V. Navatartnam who criticized the Bill in very strong language and thereby ITAK displayed its trust in the government.
In the interim period, Thiruchelvam who had been enjoying privileges personally cut a sorry figure unable to achieve anything concrete for Tamil welfare. In order to make Trincomalee as the capital of the Tamil area, Thiruchelvam appointed an advisory committee to determine the boundaries of the district but it was dissolved by Prime Minsiter Dudly Senanayake unilaterally without consulting Thiruchelvam. Following this and several other humiliatory acts, Thriuchelvam resigned from the portfolio on 16.09.1968. But, still the ITAK continued its support to the government.
While the actions of the ITAK cause frustration and disappointment, the government of the day engaged in acts of discrimination against the Tamil community that were detrimental to the interest of the community.
This deep sated frustration that prevailed among the Tamil youths led to the birth of Tamil Student Peravai.
It is pertinent here to mention about the rise of Tamil Elam Movement in 1969, prior to the inauguration of Student Peravai. It can be said that while Tamil Student Federation (Tamil Manavar Peravai) made an impact in the birth of Elam liberation movements, the Elam Tamil liberation movement too made a decisive impace in the birth of Student Federation.
It was students of leading Jaffna schools such as St. Patrick’s College, Central College, St. John’s College, Hindu College, that were in the forefront in forming the movement. It can be specially mentioned that students of St. Patrick’s played a key role.
Michael Thambinayagam ( St.Patricks College), Former International Coordinator Lawrence Thilakar ( St.Patricks College) present Opposition Leader of the Northern Provinccial Council Sinnadurai Thavarasa ( Kokuvil Hindu College) Thiyagi Pon. Sivakumaran ( Jaffna Hindu College), Diaspora activist in London Dr.Jeyasundram ( St. Johns’ College), Sandirasekaram ( St.Patrick’s College), Joseph Vilvarajah (St. Patricks College), Ilankai Mannan ( St.Patricks College), Muthukumaraswamy, and Hitler were the senior members of the movement.
The following three activities can be characterized as milestones of the Tamil Elam Movement:
1) An all party conference was held in 1969 at the auditorium of the Jaffna Municipal Council under the auspices of Tamil Elam Movement.
The objective of the meeting was to bring under one umbrella the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi, Suyatchi Kalakam, Tamil Congress and the Leftists who had been divergently opposed to each other on principles and program of work.
Vavuniya Sivasithambaram ( Tamil Congress), Udupity Sivasithambaram (Tamil Congress MP),A. Amirthalingam ( ITAK), S.Kathiravetpillai (ITAK-Nallur),V.Navaratnam ( Suyatchi Kalakam) and V.Ponnambalam ( Communist Party) took part.
Besides, Rajan Philippillai ( nephew of Rev.Fr.Thaninayagam Adigal) , Sivendran ( nephew of Alfred Duriappah) and I representing the Tamil Youth Front of Peradeniya participated.
2) A Fast was held in the same year, 1969, opposite Jaffna Mumiappar temple demanding that all Tamil parties must unite. More than one hundred youths attended the fast and expressed their solidarity.
3) A demonstration was held at the Jaffna esplanade protesting against the usage of Sinhala names such as Siyawasa (Lottery) and Salusala ( Co-operative movement) and it was followed by a march to the Kachcheri that handed over a petition to the Government Agent.
In 1970, following the increase of police harassment sequel to the bomb blast by Sivakumaran in 1970, the members of Elam Tamil Movement had to leave the island and the Elam Tamil Movement had to be disbanded.
In the next installment, let me discuss the conduct of Sivakumaran, how he secretly engaged with his colleagues and committed the act of blast in June 1970.