Indian Tamils of Sri Lanka - Current Status

Current Status

The Srima-Shastri pact of 1964 and Indira-Sirimavo supplementary agreement of 1974 paved the way for the repatriation of 600,000 persons of Indian origin to India. Another 375,000 persons were to accepted as citizens of Sri Lanka, which made them enter the polity. These repatriation agreements were the harbingers of the destruction of this community, which had evolved into a composite group with a distinct culture of its own. In the fifties and sixties this community was clamoring for education and recognition of its distinctive culture. This brought in the emergence of a community consciousness and the artesian of a distinct community. An educated middle class made up of teachers, trade unionists and other professional began to make its appearance. There was a vigorous campaign for social ameliorations and increased educational facilities. There was a growing spirit of resistance. People destroyed Indian passports and refused to go to India. Repatriation was resisted. International opinion was canvassed against deprivation of citizenship rights. The plantation people who were not prepared to leave, destitute, the land whose property they had built . They were prepared to fraternize within the Sinhalese and accept Sri Lankan leadership in the trade union movement. In the general election of 1977 they were able to elect 11 candidates. This helped the emergence of the plantation people as a political force, but they were faced with communal violence in 1977, 1983 and in 2000. In 1984-5, to stop India intervening in Sri Lankan affairs, the UNP government eventually granted citizenship right to all stateless persons. The late Savumiamoorthy Thondaman was instrumental in using this electoral strength in assuring the socioeconomic conditions of hill country Tamils to improve. The plight of the repatriated persons in India has not been good.

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