Monday, January 30, 2012

COVER STORY Tamilians Dread Motivated Revenge



Tamilians Dread Motivated Revenge
Approach Home Minister for Relief

In an explosive representation made to the Home Minister, the Andaman Tamizhar Sangham, a socio-cultural organization, representing the interests of the Tamilians of the Islands for over 60 years has lambasted the ANI Admn accusing it of motivated harassment of prominent Tamil businessmen and concerted effort to root out the Tamil community of the Islands layer by layer in a planned manner.

By Zubair Ahmed

Blaming the ANI Admn for much of its plights, the representation signed by the President of Andaman Tamizhar Sangham has said that the Admn have of late been playing a highly dubious role threatening business as well as livelihood interests of the Tamil population. It further says that there seems to be a systematic attempt to eliminate the leadership layers and thereby adversely affect the livelihood avenues of the Tamil people.
It has also blamed certain vested interests with an eye on their vote-bank politics acting with a hidden agenda in collusion with certain unscrupulous elements in the AN Admn. The representation said that it is unfortunate that these elements are not duly aware of the great contributions of the Tamils for the overall development as well as for protecting the harmonious social fabric of these Islands.
On Legislative Assembly or Pradesh Council, the representation said that in the absence of an elected Legislative Assembly, which is expected to take care of the genuine problems of the people of these Islands, these vested interests are bent upon disturbing the peaceful atmosphere that has been prevailing here for over seven decades. The Sangham has put forth their demand saying that even, if it is not immediately possible to have a full-fledged Legislative Assembly, the erstwhile Pradesh Council may be revived to safeguard the genuine interests of the Islanders.
To substantiate the allegation against the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, Andaman Tamizhar Sangham has highlighted various issues pertaining to suppression of Tamilian interests in these Islands.
In the representation, it said that OBC Reservation to Tamil Settlers and Permanent Inhabitants of these Islands has been denied. The officials of the Andaman Administration utterly failed to highlight before the OBC Commission the need to include Tamil Settlers in the list of OBCs. While the Admn took all efforts to include the post-1942 Bengali Settlers in the list, they deliberately denied the same facility to post-1942 Tamil settlers and the Permanent inhabitants of these Islands.
The Representation has also blamed the ANI Admn for denial of Resettlement of Tamil Settlers of Katchal Island. About 48 Sri Lankan expatriate families who were settled in Katchal Island in 1960s were made to work in a rubber plantation. Katchal Island, which falls under Tribal Reserve Area, due to which they were all along, denied a proper settlement package that was extended to all other categories of settlers. The situation has further worsened post-Tsunami, with local tribals claiming the land currently under the occupation of these Tamil Settlers as well as for their total eviction from Katchal Island.
The representation said that the Sangham has been fighting for long for their resettlement in the land available at Saithankhari, South Andaman, under the possession of Rubber Board, Kerala, which is kept unutilized for over 20 years. Though the Rubber Board had expressed its willingness in writing to surrender this land for the resettlement of the Katchal Tamil settlers, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, possibly under pressure from vested political interests, has been adopting a callous approach to this issue and failed to provide any honourable resettlement package. It is worthwhile to mention here that the Katchal Tamil Settlers now comprising of about 170 extended families, instead of taking a confrontationist stand against the tribals of Katchal Island are willing to be evacuated from their lands which have been in their occupation for over five decades. The Administration has not realized the consequences, had there been a stand-off between the tribals and the Tamil settlers.
The Sangham in its representation has also highlighted that there is motivated harassment of prominent Tamil businessmen. As many as 7 prominent businessmen from Tamil community, engaged in quarrying and construction business have been arrested and kept under judicial custody for more than 5 months, in an explosive case. Several of their applications for grant of bail have been rejected due to strong opposition from the prosecution side. Citing examples of similar cases, the representation felt it worth to mention that about 35 cases relating to similar offences are already in the court of law, and all those accused in these cases had been let out on bail within a reasonable period of time. But these 7 businessmen are not able to get bail, due to revengeful and politically motivated attitude of the authorities. ATS also fee that it is quite possible that these 7 prominent businessmen, being totally demoralized due to delay in obtaining bail, might decide to leave the Islands for good which will in turn adversely affect the livelihood of about 1000 Tamil labourers working under them and their families.
The Sangham has also accused the Administration of motivated attempts at ethnic cleansing by targeting the Tamil population and those businesses run by them. Sea sand quarrying, which was mainly controlled by Tamil businessmen, has been totally banned for the last two years. Similarly, several crusher operators, who happen to be Tamilians, have been denied renewal of their licenses in the name of pollution control, even though they have complied with all the norms stipulated for the same. Several high-value tenders successfully bid by prominent Tamil businessmen have been cancelled citing vague reasons, thereby causing huge loss and mental agony to them. ATS also has highlighted that with the proposed move to introduce A&N Islands (Restriction on Entry and Residence) Regulation 2006, there is a possibility of all non-tribal and non-OBC population of these Islands losing their property and residence rights, wherein the Tamil population would be the most affected.
The Sangham in the representation has reiterated that it believes that there is a concerted effort by the A & N Administration, with undue pressure from vested political interests to root out the Tamil community of these Islands layer by layer in a planned manner. It has also made apprehensions that a situation may arise wherein the entire Tamil population of these Islands would have to face forced migration back to mainland. The Sangham has also warned about protests and rallies, if such oppressive measures against the community are not immediately stopped by the Andaman and Nicobar Administration, which might disturb the peaceful atmosphere prevailing in the Islands.
The ATS has requested the Home Minister to impress upon the ANI Admn to desist from bowing to pressure from vested interests and intimidating Tamil population who have made and are still making significant contributions to the socio-economic development of the Islands.
Speaking to LOA, A K Bhojarajan, President, Andaman Tamizhar Sangham said that thousands of labourers are approaching the Organisation seeking assistance as they are without wages for months now. He also said that it has now proven beyond doubt that the huge cache of explosives were meant for illegal quarrying and not for any terrorist activity, and the accused should be charged accordingly and they may be let on bail.

No comments: