By Deccan Herald –
Lankan Tamil leaders not for Tamil Eelam, says CPM
Beyond regional and linguistic barriers, a tender side to the rehabilitation process of the internally displaced people (IDP) in Sri Lanka has come to light, with Karnataka being among three Indian states to train a significant number of Tamil war widows in new job-skills.
Sri Lanka’s war against the separatist Tamil Tigers that ended three years ago had eventually caused “35,000 war widows”, mostly Tamils and concentrated now in the Island’s Eastern Batticaloa area. They are now the focus of a skills-training programme to help them eke out a decent living.
CPM Member of Parliament T K Rangarajan who was part of the 15-member Indian Parliamentary delegation who visited war-ravage areas in Sri Lanka and other places told reporters in Chennai on Sunday that they were saddened by the fact that 13,000 of those widows were under 23 years of age.
In a bid to make both ends meet and help them return to a normal life, Rangarajan said under an Indian government initiative, 800 of the younger widows were selected initially for a multiple skills development programme in Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra .
Sharing his impressions of the visit, Rangarajan said the widows were imparted training in computer operations, food processing and embroidery among others.
Women Self-Help Groups under the name ‘Sewa’ was formed with India’s help to ensure livelihood support for the widows, Rangarajan said.
Back home after their training, a small group of women from Gujarat have taken the lead to “guide” the widows further, he added.
The mobility of the Tamil IPDs’, particularly the males from the barbed wire fenced camps in Northern Sri Lanka have considerably improved – they were able to go out to do different kinds of work to earn a daily wage.
However, Rangarajan said, in all areas they had visited including Jaffna, the epicenter of the Tamils struggle, Army presence in civilian areas and even minutely monitoring people’s movements including Temple rituals was a major concern among the Tamils.
However, “there are lots of genuine grievances of the Tamils that need to be urgently addressed”, including housing, school buildings, acute shortage of qualified teachers, and above all taking back the Army from civil administration and from civilian areas, Rangarajan said. They had conveyed all this to Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakshe, he added.
The Indian delegation also found that the demand for a separate Tamil Eelam was no longer in the air. Rangarajan said in their interactions with leaders of all the Tamil political parties, “nobody demanded any separate Tamil Eelam”.
Significantly, even the seniormost Tamil leader Sampanthan had stressed the Tamils only sought an enduring political solution within the framework of a United Sri Lanka, the Marxist MP disclosed.
“They (Tamil party leaders in Lanka) want India to facilitate a political solution within that framework,” Rangarajan added.