On muthukumar..

Immolation ignites, not just the self but the social order in which it occurs. Whatever be the tributes (heaped in hindsight), it is a suicide, albeit an altruistic suicide!

When muthukumar died in the flames that he ignited on himself, in support of Tamil Eelam, it was painful to know  and even more painful to reflect. He died for a cause. He is not going to get any part of the promised money that politicians would like to present, he is not going to see Tamil Eelam, he is not going to win an election, he is not going to see his statue which is the first stupid thing that a crafty politician is going to commission, he is not going to even see that the youth are agitated and angry and demanding. He is not going to be; he is gone. All those instantly printed images of his face are going to fade just a little while before his name becomes another affordably-forgettable trivia. (How many remember the names of those who died in 1965, in the same manner, for a similar (?) cause?)

I have been reading blogs written about this in the past week, and even serious and sensitive writers- vinavu in tamil and meena kandasamy in English- have been swayed by the emotional impact of the immolation.

Yes, he had dared to do what most of us fear- embrace death for a cause espoused. Yes indeed, he has achieved what he perhaps wanted- the youth to awaken. At this moment, just a few days after the death, it may even appear vulgar to discuss him. It would be unfair to ascribe motivations of self-interest to him. It will certainly be cheap and false to reduce his act to the psychological phenomenon of attention-seeking. I understand the pain. I feel sorry for him, but I feel more sorry for his death which I am afraid is not going to do much for much longer. I am afraid about idiots and immature people trying to imitate him. I feel even more sorry for him as I know how short-lived are the emotions that flare without deeper understanding of reality.

There are going to be politicians who would like to use his death to further their interests. There would be cheap writers who earn by writing about him. There would be half-baked intellectuals who would try to discuss dispassionately over dinner on the death of an individual. There would be interviews, columns, serials and even films on this event. Is that what he wanted? Is that what he died for?

How many of those young men and women who went to pay tributes to him know about the reality of Eelam? There is a genocide. It has been happening for nearly a generation. All those young and angry minds were infants or un-born when this started. That is the reason why political traders are selling them lies. The most unworthy of all lies being the projection of prabakaran. It pains me to see youth thinking that prabakaran is a leader in the `Che’ mould. This is the right time for a shrewd, conscienceless businessman to make Tshirts with prabakaran’s image. It hurts when he is being eulogized to this level- just because one muthukumar burnt himself to death and declared that LTTE have a great leader unlike the people of tamilnadu. It is true that there are NO leaders in this state which has politicians aplenty.

Just because we do not have a good leader should we accept a bad one? Let us not be led astray. Even friends and comrades when they were talking to me over the last one week lamented that since no one is there to fight for tamil-eelam, we have to put up with prabakaran. Are the angry youth aware that they have to ‘put up’ with him because no one else is fighting? And are they aware why there is no one else in the fray? Have they been informed if not educated about how those who fought for the same cause were killed because this one man wanted to reign supreme? Do they know of EPRLF and EROS?Were these young minds not idiotic enough just a few weeks back to stand in the rain and form a human chain because karunanidhi wanted to play his political game? One man wants you to stand in rain and get wet as he waves a promise from his motorcade- he was always that way, it is just now that he gets more and more exposed since his reflexes have become slower with super-confidence. As his alternative is the projection of a self-centered person who even now would not dare to face a match stick that might burn him- he needs innocent and unwilling people around him as a shield! Is this what muthukumar wanted?

Just because muthukumar died and declared so, it does not mean that prabakaran and LTTE are the only hope and promise for Tamils in Srilanka. Just because one man burnt himself to an agonizing death does not mean that we have to stop thinking. So what can we do?

Think and make others think. As Indians, we have very little option. We can shout and scream, so can Obama and Hillary; we can cry so can the politicians of the state, we can write—and?

I do not know what we can do as a country. maybe as some learned men say India should not offer assistance to srilankan army. but the stealth of international politics is more complex for such a simple solution. there are many who want an end to this problem, but what is going to be the end? Death of millions? it is happening and after all the deaths, laments and political theatrics, there is going to business potential in the destroyed area. I am aware that there are monsters waiting to rebuild the non-existent bridge and do business with the singhaleese. it hurts.Yet I as an individual cannot do much. I can only offer food and shelter realistically and thoughts and words idealistically to those who get displaced from the terror region.

I can even write poems on the miserable state of affairs- but would this be better than what muthukumar did? There is one difference- I can live to take care of atleast one suffering refugee which would matter more to those who flee from terror than my death.

as some friends have asked me after reading this, i have to say what i feel could be a solution-1.srilankan government must be made to see reason2. innocent lives have to be protected. THIS CANNOT BE DONE WITHOUT INTENSE POLTICAL AND ECONOMIC PRESSURE ON THE GOVERNMENT, but we cannot allow another IPKF, any american intervention will only mess the situation further,britain would just clone america. french will not. china/japan?  i honestly do not feel any military intervention is going to do good. if India can squeeze srilankan government by not offering even silent/sly support a solution is possible…hopefully

On immolations and the psycho-social history of Tamils in this regard later.

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10 Comments on “On muthukumar..”

  1. anbudan_BALA Says:

    Very good post, Realistic and Moving at the same time,

    I agree with your analysis of this “impossible” situation.


  2. The shame aspect is that our Governments (esp central govt) will turn their face only if such deaths are happening… they are never disturbed with the ‘gandhian’ way of protesting. Central Govt could squeeze the Srilanka in many ways to stop the killing of Tamils… but they didn’t… Atleast, if the India’s cricket tour to Srilanka is withdrawn, it would have made an impact internationally.

  3. There is genocide. No questions about it.
    Though it’s very painful and unwelcoming, but Muthukumar’s decision has evoked the feelings for the near future, and some thinking among the Political lines and Indian Government.

    The silence of Indian Government is to be blamed hugely because of their Geo-strategical importance in the region, but they are all driven by the market economics, and they do not want to miss a playing field in Sri Lanka, as per the interests of the bigger global market players. No wonder none of the western countries can force the Sri Lankan government’s sheer implementation of brutal force. Government of Sri Lanka has been implementing what has been asked by the rest(read it as west). India cannot do anything against it and the lack of a real national Leader is another reason to blame for it.

    The blame and recklessness are equally shared by the LTTE along with the Sri Lankan government.

    //It pains me to see youth thinking that prabakaran is a leader in the `Che’ mould.//
    Prabhakaran is not a Che, NO doubt about it. Otherwise he wouldn’t be surviving for so long with all the support from the west till couple of years ago (OR) he wouldn’t be in such a bad position today, it would have been a massive rebellion with the support of all the Eelam tamils.

    With the current situation in Vanni, only Indian government can make a difference, and that too has to happen from the protest of the people of Tamil Nadu, which can shake the sly behavior of the Central politician who is nearing an election within four months. India can force a truce for a short time but the rest lies with the attitude of Sri Lankan government. Moreover LTTE has to find a mid-path solution with some of the genuine Tamil democratic parties, that will be a much bigger problem think since that involves Power-sharing.

  4. sangeetha enian Says:

    this is what i expect from u.why not u start a magazine sir?

  5. Rajkumar Says:

    Dear Rudhran
    the stand of an oridnary tamilian is much more complicated. we have to look at it from a point of view of an indian and a tamilian. which ever may be primary. the jafna tamil first of all doesnt look at tamil tamils as brethern. when the hiil tamils were present in large numbers jafna tamils colluded with singalese to drive them out of the country. agreed it was more than thirty years ago. the indian government would not want a soverign tamil state near tamilnadu which may pave the way for separatist elements raising up in the state. the govt. again will not want other countries like china or pakistan entering sri lanka under the guise of helping them with arms and advisers which will be a security threat for the country. sri lanka had offered deals which were rejected by LTTE and now srilankan govt will not be interested in deals as it is winning. i sincerely hope that by supporting srilankan govt and gaining the power to influence its decisions indian govt will try for a negotiated settlement after prabakaran is finished (due to Rajiv factor)i personally think muthkumar and others who sacrificed their life needlessly would have made more impact if they had gone to mullativu and fought for what they believed in

  6. Sethu Says:

    I totally agree with your view.
    Let us just widen over view from “Tamilians getting killed in Lanka”. Human beings are getting killed everywhere (Palastian, Afghan, etc.). Can Indian government interfere there? Indian government cannot even interfere Pakistan for Mumbai terror attack with proper black and white evidence.

    What make oneself to take a wild decision,like, igniting oneself?

    Are there anyways to stop the suicide (igniting oneself)?

  7. Ramu Says:

    Hi Friends

    I would like defer despite being considered anathema in this circle. The fear of Central government about “having a Tamil nation near Tamilnadu is a security threat” is as absurd as saying “having Nepal a Hindu country next to India is a security threat”, because it will influence India to become Hindu nation as well.

    Any race has unique identities. The uniqueness would survive only when they are allowed to live on their own. When one race tries to rule the other, the harmony is the first casualty. Why did India made of several states based on language, while there are other social stratas to consider? When there are two or more languages co-existing in a country, they should be given equal rights as it is in India to maintain harmony. We have a classic example of what happened in 1960s when Hindi tried to dominate Tamil.

    What is happening in Sri Lanka? If a Tamil student gets 40 marks to pass, a Sinhalese student just need to get 35! If Tamil student need to get 60% to acquire a government job, Sinhalese student need to get just 50% (am not sure about the exact value, this is just an example). You need to know how to read and write Sinhalese language if you want to join any government job, even if you are a Tamil!!! To top all these, Sri Lankan constitution says “Only a Sinhalese speaking, Budhilst Sinhalese national is elgible to become head of the state”

    How would you name such a government? Sri Lankan Government or Sinhalese Government? How can you engage in reasonable talks with such a bunch of hypocrites? This is not a British government that atleast tolerated Gandhian struggle for freedom. You have no other choice but to hold weapons for freedom.

    Freedom is not something to be bequeathed, and you are not a beggar. It has to be fought and attained. In world history no freedom is got without weapon struggle (India is an exception). It is easy to write on a blog against weapon based struggle, unless you are affected.

    Let us stop being psuedo intellectuals and start thinking rationally. A person taking arms for his own sake does so out of self ceteredness. A person taking arms for his people, does so out of abundant love. Self immolation is another expression of such love. If you can understand Mother Theresa’s love for lepers of Calcutta, you will be able to empahtise this too. At least let us stop brandishing the sacrifice of Muthukumar.

  8. kaeswar Says:

    Beautiful Explanation Ramu , i 100 % agree with ur comments

  9. Hannah Says:

    Ramu, I understand and to an extent empathise with your views on dominance and how to thwart it. However, I do NOT believe or subscribe to armed struggle. Because, that really takes us back to the dark ages, where might was right. All it takes is to shout louder and with arms, and the assumption is you are perhaps correct. This is dangerous because armed struggle will find ways to justify ‘collateral’ damage and the arms industry will have to be funded by plundering natural resources, which in turn means displacement of aboriginal people! It’s a self-defeating exercise…

    In such times, we have to think of something much beyond armed struggle…we need thinkers, we need a vision, a strategic vision for the future generations…

  10. Ramu Says:

    Hi Hannah & Kaeswar

    Thanks for your comments. Would like to reply to Hannah’s comments. I do understand your concern of not catering to Barbaric instincts. But I do wonder what makes you think we have graduated from ‘Dark age’ where might is considered right. Are we living in a world that is any better? How would you justify the policing of universe by America. America’s might is ruling the world today whether you like it or not.

    When Iraq invaded Kuwait way back in 1990 US intervened. But when US invaded Iraq in 2005 under guise of WMD, none could intervene including United Nations. How would you justify this heinous act. If you still believe we are living in light ages and not dark, I would say you are the samaritan of abundant optimism, this world badly needs now.

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