Thursday, April 30, 2009


Lanka belongs on UN Security Council Agenda- Miliband

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in an interview with the BBC following his visit to Sri Lanka, said that Sri Lanka should be on the UN Security Council agenda for which UK, France and the US are pushing for as the war has regional and wider ramifications.

Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, was interviewed on the BBC's World at One following his visit to Sri Lanka on 29 April 2009.


Martha Kearney: Well earlier the Foreign Secretary David Miliband told me from Sri Lanka what he’d heard as he was visiting a refugee centre there.

David Miliband: Well the so called safe zone is not safe at all, that’s where the conflict has been ongoing. The Sri Lankan Defence Secretary confirmed there will be absolutely no more heavy shelling, that must be put in to practice, but of course it’s a stop to the fighting that the European Union and the G8 have been calling for. At the moment the civilians are trapped by LTTE, the Tamil Tigers, a terrorist organisation that is stopping them leaving this so called no fire zone but the Government’s obviously got responsibility that it needs to live up to as a democratic member of the United Nations applying the rules of international humanitarian law.

MK: Alongside the French Foreign Minister you’re on an EU mission to try and urge an immediate ceasefire by the Sri Lankan Government, how have you been getting on with that?

DM: There isn’t going to be a ceasefire today as a result of this visit. There is an ongoing struggle for territory in this country, this civil war has claimed eighty thousand lives over the last twenty five years. What we have is a very clear focus on the civilians in the conflict zones who are desperate for water and food and never mind safety.

MK: But isn’t it a fact that the Sri Lankan Government is paying no attention to international opinion, to delegations such as yours, isn’t it time for a UN Security Council resolution?

DM: Well this is the first delegation that’s been allowed in, media are not being allowed in to the north east of the country which only adds to the concern. I think that we were right; Britain, France, the US, to raise this issue at the United Nations last Friday this does belong on the United Nations Security Council agenda. This is a civil war that does have regional and wider ramifications and, obviously, a massive civilian emergency as well.

MK: Do you think that war crimes have been committed here? You’ve got the Sri Lankan Government using heavy artillery even though they’ve stopped now, and also the Tamil Tigers using people as human shields?

DM: The truth is we don’t know, there’s no question that there has been abuse of civilians by the Tamil Tigers, preventing people leaving the conflict zone and, obviously we’re very concerned about the heavy pounding that has been going on in the conflict zone as well. One reason for a proper access is to promote not just civilians’ welfare but also proper accountability on all sides for what has happened.

MK: We’ve seen big protests here in Britain do you think pressure can be brought to bear on the Tamil community in exile?

DM: I think that people around the world will be very worried about the situation here. A hundred and fifteen, a hundred and twenty thousand civilians have been displaced by this conflict and I think it’s right that there is international concern reflected not just in the UN Security Council by countries like Britain and France but also on the streets in peaceful demonstrations.

MK: Another way out of the situation of course would be for the remaining Tamil fighters, the rest of the LTTE, to surrender and so then the civilians would be freed, are you asking for that to happen?

DM: Well we’re certainly demanding that the LTTE stop sheltering civilians, keep holding them hostage would be a better way of putting it. It’s vital all along that we don’t forget that this is a civil war where a terrorist organisation has blown up people on buses and in shopping centres in, right across Sri Lanka. The real voice of the Tamil people is for decent rights and proper recognition in a peaceful way in Sri Lanka. The deeper political crisis is one of representation and recognition and that certainly needs to be addressed.

MK: Should the Tamil Tigers surrender though?

DM: We, we’ve said all along we want them to renounce violence because violence is never the way to deliver political progress in a democratic country and this is a country that needs the international community. The international community will engage but it wants to see a proper recognition of Tamil aspirations for recognition of their needs and that can be done within a unified Sri Lanka but it does need to be based on clear political rights. And the consequence of the fighting is that while the Sri Lankan Government may win the war the danger is that they lose the peace and we have twenty five more years of terrorism because Tamil communities across Sri Lanka are so appalled by what they’ve seen.

MK: The Foreign Secretary David Miliband speaking to me from a refugee camp in Sri Lanka.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"We tried very hard -- we insisted and we insisted....!!!

Britain, France fail to secure Sri Lanka truce

COLOMBO (AFP) — The foreign ministers of Britain and France said Wednesday they had failed to persuade Sri Lanka to end its offensive against Tamil rebels and allow aid in for civilians trapped by the fighting.

"We tried very hard -- we insisted and we insisted -- but it is up to our friends to allow it or not," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner told a news conference after talks with the Sri Lankan government.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband also said the talks had ended without a breakthrough.

"Now is the time for the fighting to stop," Miliband said, but later admitted to the BBC that "there isn't going to be a ceasefire today as a result of this visit."

"This does belong on the United Nations Security Council agenda," he warned. "This is a civil war that does have regional and wider ramifications, and happens to be a massive civilian emergency as well."

Sri Lanka's leaders say they are on the cusp of victory after 37 years of violence, with the ethnic rebels cornered and outnumbered in a small strip of coastal jungle in the northeast of the island.

President Mahinda Rajapakse told the two ministers that access to the conflict area was not possible because of the on-going fighting, a government spokesman said.

"The main point raised by the two ministers was access to the area where fighting is going on and the president very clearly and politely said 'no need'," the spokesman said after closed-door talks.

The refusal means the two ministers will leave Sri Lanka after a one-day visit empty handed, after being unable to secure agreement on a ceasefire.

Government officials have argued that any truce would only allow the rebels to regroup.

But at the centre of global concern are some 50,000 Tamil civilians who the United Nations says are unable to escape the fighting.

"There's no question that there has been abuse of civilians by the Tamil Tigers, preventing people leaving the conflict zone, and obviously we're very concerned about the heavy pounding that has been going on in the conflict zone as well," Miliband said.

A UN document circulated among diplomats in Colombo last week said that as many as 6,500 civilians may have been killed and another 14,000 wounded in the government's offensive so far this year.

Sri Lanka has for months blocked most aid agencies from working in the conflict zone, and has herded about 110,000 fleeing civilians into overcrowded camps which are guarded by the military.

Kouchner and Miliband visited one camp near the northern town of Vavuniya on Wednesday, where Tamils told them of relatives who had been arrested inside what the government calls "welfare villages."

Kouchner told AFP that "this camp is good, the rest must be awful," referring to the severe shortage of food, shelter and medical essentials reported at other camps.

Although Sri Lanka is restricting access for aid agencies, it did appeal for 100 million dollars in foreign aid for the nearly 200,000 civilians displaced by the offensive, Disaster Management Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe told AFP.

On the eve of the ministers' one-day visit, Sri Lankan authorities denied a visa to Sweden's Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who was hoping to join the peace mission -- prompting a major diplomatic row with the European Union.

The diplomatic row was a symptom of Sri Lanka's hardening stance towards the West, with officials regularly accusing the UN and foreign aid groups of supporting or colluding with Tamil Tigers.

After months of heavy fighting, the Tigers are said by the military to be down to their last few hundred fighters.

In the latest fighting, Sri Lanka's navy said that it sank six rebel boats and killed at least 25 guerrillas in a pre-dawn sea battle on Wednesday.



Daya Master claims Tigers killed 200 civilians

A former spokesman for the Tamil Tigers who surrendered last week has accused the rebels of shooting dead at least 200 civilians, and forcibly recruiting children as young as 13.

Velayudam Dayanidi, better known as Daya Master, made the accusations in a video interview released today on the Defence Ministry's website ten days after surrendering with V.K. Pencharatnam, known as George, a former aide to the Tigers' late political chief.

Both appeared in the video and seemed to be relaxed and in good health, but it was not possible to speak to them directly or to verify whether the interview was conducted under duress.

The interview was released as David Miliband, the British Foreign Secretary, and his French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, arrived in Sri Lanka to press for a ceasefire to allow aid agencies to reach tens of thousands of civilians trapped with the last of the Tigers in a 3.8-square-mile strip of land on the northeastern coast.

Daya Master said that he had left the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2006 after the collapse of a 2002 ceasefire brokered by Norway, but had been forced to rejoin.

“LTTE was keeping the Tamil people as hostages,” he said, according to the English subtitles on the video.

“LTTE attacked civilians who were trying to get out of Suthanthirapuram,” he added, referring to a village inside the conflict zone.

“People were shot. Many died. Nearly 200 civilians died due to LTTE fire. LTTE propaganda was that these people died because of military shelling.”

The Tigers have accused the army of shelling Suthanthirapuram in January, killing dozens of civilians, but civilians fleeing the same area in February also reported seeing the rebels shoot dead dozens of people trying to escape.

“When people moved into Puthumatalan, there too civilians were shot when trying to get out. Many died. People were beaten up, shot and many died,” Daya Master said.

Puthumatalan is next to the earthen fortification that the army breached on April 20, starting an exodus of more than 100,000 civilians from the conflict zone.

The army has broadcast footage taken from a surveillance plane that appears to show Tiger gunmen shooting into a crowd of civilians on a beach.

The Tigers are banned as a terrorist organisation by the US, the EU and India and have killed thousands of innocent people, many with suicide bombs, since launching their armed struggle in 1983.

Daya Master also backed up accusations from the army and civilians fleeing the area that the Tigers have been forcibly recruiting children.

“In all the refugee locations the LTTE forcibly took away children as young as those born in 1994, 1995 and 1996. The LTTE conscripted even one and only child in a family. Sick children like heart patients too have been forcibly conscripted,” he said.

“When children are removed forcibly, parents have attacked the recruiters. They retaliated and assaulted parents and forcibly removed the children.”

The UN has also accused the Tigers of forcibly recruiting children, including the 16-year-old daughter of one of its own staff.

Daya Master and George described how civilians had been moving around the conflict zone for weeks trying to find a way to escape without the Tigers noticing.

“Only the ablest of the lot were able to get out - the weaklings were unable to get out because there was firing from behind,” George said.

The two men said that they seized their chance to escape on April 20 when the army breached the earthen mound and thousands began rushing to government-controlled territory.

“I decided I am going to take it, even if I'm going to get shot,” said George Master said. “I was lucky - I was able to cross over.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


A perilous journey for freedom
Manjula Fernando

When we started our trip from Colombo on Friday, I had some idea of what to expect. It was not going to be easy. After witnessing TV images of the mass human exodus described as the biggest hostage rescue mission in the world and following it closely since Monday, I knew the picture would be rough.

Around 7.30 in the morning we took off from the Ratmalana Airbase in a light aircraft used to transport goods and soldiers to North and landed in Anuradhapura one hour later. From there we boarded a MI 17 helicopter.

There were some 50 journalists representing both foreign and local media organizations.

Soon after landing in Kilinochchi some 45 minutes later, we were given a hurried briefing of our basic program by military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara. We were to have breakfast inside the LTTE’s former political office and listen to a media briefing by 58 Division Brigade Commander Shavendra Silva on the military operations. Later, there would be a display of weapons and important documents recovered from LTTE leaders’ residence.

Then would come the most important part of our trip, a visit to the very edge of No Fire Zone in Puthumattalan, where I saw the other day on TV, a virtual human stampede - a mass exodus of civilians into military held areas, seeking refuge away from the brutal grip of LTTE where they suffered without food, water and security.

But nothing could have prepared us for what we saw. The destruction and the devastation caused by the conflict was evident everywhere, from the scorched tops of palm and coconut trees to the pallet ridden shabby structures, some of whose roofs had been blown away by shelling. The entire environment appeared as if a tornado has just crossed its path. As we got nearer the destruction seemed intense. There was hardly any life left.

It was hard to believe that one man’s eccentricity and lust for a selfish and an impossible dream could bring such suffering to so many people.

Brig. Shavendra Silva explained the situation inside the No Fire Zone. Remaining LTTE cadres have donned civvies on strict orders from their hierarchy. And there could still be 10,000-15,000 civilians trapped inside the NFZ. He said this number could be more or less, they had no way of knowing the exact figure.

This is the most challenging phase of their operation. In this tail end, they have deployed most of their tactics and the Tigers were able to read them better. ”We cannot use the same tactics we used to liberate the civilians from the north of the NFZ.

We must plan afresh.” The rescue mission was a pre-dawn operation. The military had been announcing their entry into the NFZ via Puthumattalan for days. The civilians were asked to be prepared to flee. By April 19, Sunday this call had become stale in the Tigers’ ear. The time was right for the rescue mission, military commanders agreed.

“We were closely monitoring their habits. Through our surveillance we knew the cadres’ alertness was at a very low level during the early hours. Our operation started late Sunday night and the LTTE taken by surprise could not hold their ground for even half an hour,” Brig Shavendra said.

Civilian influx
As soon as the earth bunt was breached the civilians started to pour out as if the floodgates of a brimming tank were suddenly opened up. At first they threw away their last earthly possessions in the hurry to get to safe terrain and some were lost in the stampede. The scattered belongings were still visible near the boundary of the Puthumathalan Lagoon. But when the pace eased and the LTTE was driven further south, the civilians arrived with ease.

Over 100,000 civilians were rescued by Military Forces within the first three days of the operation. Seventeen people died in three LTTE suicide attacks on the day one of the rescue operation. Rajeshwari, a middle aged woman who arrived at Iranapalai after fleeing the NFZ with her five year old son and her ageing mother told us a heart wrenching story. “I heard the announcement.

I saw people running towards the military controlled area. I ran with my child, hoping that even if I died my child will survive and be freed.”

Time did not permit us to ask her about the plight of the rest of her family. The Tigers in their desperation to hold their last stand, shoot and beat up anyone who tries to escape. They have been using the civilians as a human shield for the past several weeks.

Rajeshwari had been inside the NFZ for two months. The place is said to be a living hell with LTTE restricting ration quotas and plundering the rest for their own use. Some civilians said they had not eaten a proper meal for days. This was true for children, women and the old. Sleep is a luxury they cannot afford.

Fortunately, the group of people whom we met on our visit had no major injuries other than signs of extreme exhaustion but thousands of civilians who were rescued by the Forces since April 20 had sustained injuries including gunfire wounds, a price they paid for freedom over LTTE’s insanity. They are being treated in hospitals in Vavunia, Pulmodai, Chettikulam, Trincomalee, Padaviya, Mannar and Colombo. The conditions in the NFZ are such that some of the senior Tiger cadres have also opted to quit and mingle with the civilians and flee at the cost of their dear life.

An audacious task
Military forces on a daily basis announce safe escape routes for civilians. Helping civilians who want to cross over is an audacious task. The previous day LTTE cadres clad as ordinary civilians shot dead two soldiers who tried to usher them to safety responding to their call.

After an LTTE human bomb killed soldiers and IDPs at a transit camp, the civilians who could barely walk after the perilous and arduous journey need to undergo intense screening at the IDP receiving point.

We had a glimpse of the Puthumattalan hospital which fell into the hands of the Forces a few days back. The area has been secured by the Security Forces.

We had a view of the distant stretch of land, beyond the lagoon where the LTTE was still keeping civilians hostage. Black smoke billowed from the treetops. A special task force soldier said the Tigers could be burning one of their weapons dumps. “We have to surprise the enemy. We are now fighting a very sensitive battle. Our aim is to ensure Zero Civilian Casualties. It has to be a hand to hand fight,” Brigadier Silva explained.

He said they have to discern Tigers from ordinary civilians and target them. This was a challenge as the Tigers were now in civvies. Pointing to the buildings at the other side of the lagoon where we could see their roofs intact, he explained that was because the military did not use heavy weapons during the rescue operation.

Rescue operation
On the contrary the LTTE was still using heavy weapons and shells to attack the Forces. “We know that there is at least one peddle gun with them in there,” a senior ranker whom we met at the location said adding that LTTE could very well shell the place where we were standing right then.

When asked how long they would take to free the civilians, Brigadier Shavendra said they hope to rescue all the civilians unhurt within a few days. This was a hope we all shared. A hope to see an end to all this suffering soon and the dawn of peace in our Motherland.


No tears for LTTE
Anil Chawla

Army is heading for a victory over the LTTE. The defeat of the LTTE has disturbed many in India, especially in Tamil Nadu. It is understandable that many Indian Tamils emotionally identify with the Tamils of Sri Lanka and are moved by their plight.

However, it is important to understand the true nature of the LTTE before Indian Tamils let their emotions rule their heads. The LTTE under its leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran has earned reputation as the most violent and ruthless terrorist organization across the globe.

LTTE has caused immense misery. Picture by Tilak Perera

There can be no denying that Tamils in Sri Lanka had and still have genuine grievances which were repeatedly ignored by the Sinhalese political leaders. From the fifties to late seventies, the grievances were constantly raised by many moderate Tamil leaders who believed in a process of dialogue.

Sure enough, the moderates among Tamil politicians had a difficult time in convincing the Sinhalese politicians to yield ground and work towards fair and equitable governance. Nevertheless, the efforts of the moderates had attracted attention and sympathy from the international community.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that the moderates might have succeeded if they had been able to continue their efforts of dialogue, reconciliation and integration. Efforts of the moderates were cut short by a series of brutal assassinations carried out by the LTTE. The first major operation was assassination of the mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiappah in 1975.

Assassination in 1977 of a Tamil Member of Parliament, M.Canagaratnam, was carried out personally by Prabhakaran, the leader of the LTTE. These are just two examples of hundreds of cold-blooded murders of Tamils carried out by the LTTE.

The violent and ruthless ways of the LTTE led on one hand to extermination of all other Tamil militant groups and, on the other, forced moderate Tamils to either withdraw from political activity or side with Sinhalese parties.

The radicalization of Tamil political space found its echo in the Sinhalese parties and mutual hardening of stances closed all avenues of national reconciliation and integration. This led to the civil war that had been raging in the island for the past three decades.

The violent, merciless, cruel bloody ways of the LTTE have no precedence in the history of South Asia.

Hindu and Buddhist minds have streaks of kindness, compassion and pity. The militants of Indian Freedom Struggle were often soft-hearted poets. There is no prior instance of an Indian (or Sri Lankan) militant killing people of his own community with such ferociousness as Prabhakaran did. It is also important to note that for thousands of years, Buddhism and Hinduism have co-existed through much of Asia, without a single instance of a major clash.

It is hence necessary to clarify that the civil war in Sri Lanka was not a Buddhist-Hindu war. Though much of Sinhalese leadership is Buddhist, the LTTE cannot be called a Hindu organization by any stretch of imagination. The LTTE leadership has never found any sympathy among Hindu organizations of India.

Prabhakaran is a Christian (his son’s name is Charles Anthony) and most of his close associates are also Christians.

It seems reasonable to guess that the LTTE could attain its superiority over other militant Tamil groups (a) by its ruthless ways and (b) by the vast superiority of resources that the LTTE could manage. Rabid fanatical elements of Christian churches are known to fish in troubled waters across the world.

In all probability, these elements supported Prabhakaran and his men giving them money as well as arms and ammunition. Along with the resources to fight the war, the rabid Christian elements seem to have also supplied to the LTTE a mindset that is typical of one-book-religions and is completely alien to this part of the world.

All one-book-religions have no place for tolerance. Spread of Christianity through Europe, Africa and America was achieved by widespread genocide and torture. As the Pope talks of harvesting a new crop of souls in Asia, there is no attempt on the part of Church to apologize for inquisitions, witch-hunting, slavery, or opium wars or even the Bengal famine. These are viewed as acts of piety necessary for saving the souls of millions.

In the 18th, 19th and first half of 20th Century, the evangelical agenda of Church was carried out in Asia by British, Portuguese and other European colonial powers. Thousands were brutally tortured and killed in Goa inquisitions. Script for Opium Wars was written by Christian missionaries.

After the Second World War, the mainline political parties of Europe and America had turned too secular and could no longer be relied upon to further the expansionist agenda of fanatical elements of Church.

The Church had to turn to native converts to carry the flag forward. Prabhakaran is one such native convert.

Prabhakaran’s bloody ways can only be compared to the medieval Christian knights / vikings, who tolerated no dissent and killed innumerable members of their own communities on slightest pretext. If the LTTE had succeeded to create a Tamil Eelam, Prabhakaran would surely have been the worst possible despot the world has ever known.

Tamil Eelam would have done more harm than good to Tamils. Historically, Tamils of Sri Lanka were well educated and quite progressive. This changed after the LTTE took control of Jaffna. During their reign in Jaffna, the liberals were brutally killed. Even academicians were not spared.

Dr.Rajini Thiranagama was killed by the LTTE on September 21, 1989. Her only fault was that she criticized the LTTE for their atrocities. She was the head of the Anatomy Department at Jaffna University. She was also a Tamil human rights activist and feminist.

The poisonous, cancerous mindset of fanatic proponents of one-book religions has led to balkanization of South Europe. Success of Prabhakaran would have led to initiation of the same process in Asia.

The Prabhakaran effect would not have remained confined to just Sri Lanka, but would have impacted the whole continent giving inspiration and strength to separatist elements in various regions. For example, Church-sponsored terrorism would have received a boost in north-eastern states of India.

The Maoist or Naxalite elements have been known to receive support and cooperation from Churches in tribal areas of India and Nepal. Having tasted success in Sri Lanka, the fanatical rabid elements of Churches would have stepped up efforts towards disintegration and Christianization of India, China and rest of Asia.

India has been fighting various forces, both Islamic and Christian, aiming to disintegrate her. Besides fighting them, India has had a close brush with the brutal ways of LTTE. On May 21 1991, the LTTE’s suicide bomber killed Indian ex-Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

This made Indian public lose patience with the LTTE and Prabhakaran. The fact that the assassination paved the way for a Roman Catholic (and her Christian coterie) to get complete control of the oldest political party of India may well be purely coincidental and need not be discussed here.

The point here is only about the mindset of Prabhakaran and his organization. The mindset that tolerates no dissent and has no hesitation in cold-blooded killing of fellow politicians, women professors and even old friends, is a grave danger to peace and co-existence of human beings on this Earth. Fortunately, the LTTE has lost the war. But it may not be the end of the war. A war is fought not just on the field with guns and bombs. The most important place where a war begins and ends is in the minds of the people.

As guns silence in Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka, the challenge before the Government is to ensure that the LTTE does not become a myth - larger and more glorified than what it ever was. The Sri Lankan must take steps to write a true history of the civil war without mincing any words and portraying the LTTE in its true colours.

For the sake of good relations with majority population of India, the academicians, journalists and historians of Sri Lanka should clarify in unequivocal terms that the so-called civil war was a war between the Government and a terrorist organization.

It is necessary to underline the fact that there is no conflict between Buddhists and Hindus, who have been brothers through thousands of years. Actions speak louder than words.

The Sinhalese political class must use the end of civil war as an opportunity to initiate extensive efforts for national reconciliation, reconstruction and integration.

The President must walk over the ghost of the LTTE to extend a hand of friendship and brotherhood to Tamils of the country. If the Sinhalese population can act with the Buddhist qualities of kindness and compassion towards their Tamil brethren, they can surely win their hearts over. That will truly be a victory for everyone in Sri Lanka.

Let us pray - May the Sinhalese have the strength and wisdom to be kind, considerate and compassionate towards their Tamil brethren; And may the Tamils of Sri Lanka have the strength and wisdom to exorcise the ghosts of the LTTE from their minds and rebuild bonds of heart with their Sinhalese brethren. Lastly, let no tears be shed for the LTTE either in Sri Lanka or in India.

(The writer is an engineer, a lawyer and a philosopher.)

The guerrilla leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has avoided death and capture for more than three decades....!!!

Cornered Tamil Tiger leader has god-like status
Stewart Bell, National Post
Published: Friday, April 24, 2009

Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The National Post's Stewart Bell reporting from Sri Lanka as the civil war draws to a close. Today, he examines the life of the notorious leader who for years has led the Tamil Tigers through bloodshed and battle.

The guerrilla leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has avoided death and capture for more than three decades as he wages South Asia's longest-running civil war.

But his luck is running out.

As supreme commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Prabhakaran once presided over a rebel mini-state more than twice the size of the Palestinian Territories.

But he lost it with startling speed to the Sri Lankan armed forces, who won it back town by town and have now cornered Prabhakaran and the remnants of his rebel force.

On Friday, Brigadier Shavendra Silva said Prabhakaran was preparing to make a final stand in the strip of jungle still held by the Tamil Tigers.

"But, even at the last minute, he will try to escape," warned the brigadier.

Prabhakaran hardly looks the part of a ruthless guerrilla, even in his trademark tiger-striped camouflage: He is short and stout with a soft voice and a fondness for history books.

But his face has become the symbol of militant Tamil nationalism, appearing on posters, calendars, watches and the placards waved by his adoring supporters, many of whom live in the Toronto area.

They call him National Leader, or Sun God.

"A supernatural image has been created of Prabhakaran," says a U.S. military profile quoted in Colombo's Island newspaper. "The mysticism surrounding Prabhakaran, reinforced with massive propaganda campaigns, has endowed him with a god-like status and a cult-like following."

When RCMP counterterrorism investigators raided the World Tamil Movement office in Toronto in 2006, they found a framed photomontage of the "Eight Greatest Commanders of the 20th Century." It showed Prabhakaran encircled by the likes of Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Vladimir Lenin and Yasser Arafat.

Through a combination of guerrilla and terrorist attacks, Prabhakaran hopes to exhaust Sri Lankans and ultimately win independence for ethnic Tamils in the tract of palm jungles and sandy coastline under his control.

He already has a name for his nation: Tamil Eelam.

The Tamil Tigers are determined and resourceful. They built a fleet of small submarines and a squadron of warplanes. They can also be merciless killers. A branch of the rebels called the Black Tigers is devoted solely to carrying out suicide bombings.

Prabhakaran turned to Canada to finance his forces, writing in a 2002 letter that he expected Canadian Tamils to send him $3-million "in a timely manner" for nation-building.

The World Tamil Movement office in Toronto set up an elaborate fundraising scheme that targeted Tamil-Canadians for donations and wired the money to overseas accounts linked to the rebels, the RCMP says. Between 2002 and 2006, the transfers totalled more than $3-million.

Sri Lanka has changed dramatically since winning independence from Britain in 1948, but Prabhakaran has stubbornly refused to abandon the dream of statehood for the island's minority Tamils.

Prabhakaran was born in 1954 in Valvettithurai, a town of sea traders and smugglers on Sri Lanka's northern coast. He is the youngest of four children born to a devout Hindu mother and middle class father who served in Ceylon's post-colonial government.

"He was as normal as any boy," his sister, Vinothini Rajendran, who lives in Toronto, said in an interview. "Normal, only he was reading a lot." His mother loved history books and Prabhakaran pick up her passion.

"The pocket money that my parents gave me I spent on books," he told the Sri Lankan magazine Velicham in 1994. "There was a book shop in my village. It became my habit somehow or the other to buy all those valuable books there and read them."

It was through books that he learned about the Indian freedom struggle and guerrilla fighters like Subash Chandra Bose, whom he called his "guiding light." (Bose was a dubious role model given that he sided with the Nazis during the Second World War.) "It was the reading of such books that laid the foundation for my life as a revolutionary," he said.

Prabhakaran's views about revolutionary violence were also shaped by a teacher named Venugopal who "used to din into our ears that the Tamils should take up arms." He says he was 14 when he fully embraced militancy. It was a time of rising unrest among Tamil students, who were losing faith that their grievances could be resolved through parliamentary politics. Prabhakaran joined with a group of youths who pooled their pocket money for a gun. They were never able to save enough to buy one, although they did set fire to a bus.

"Our aim was to struggle for freedom and to attack the army. I was the leader of the movement," he told Velicham. "This is how I spent my youth, filled with thoughts about struggle, freedom and the urge to do something for our people."

At 17, Prabhakaran launched the New Tamil Tigers. It was 1972 and Ceylon had just changed its name to Sri Lanka and unveiled a constitution that made the Sinhalese spoken by the country's Buddhist majority the official language, and recognized Buddhism as the dominant national faith. To the island's Tamil minority, it reinforced suspicions they would always be second-class citizens.

Prabhakaran's dream was to create a homeland for ethnic Tamils in the northern and eastern parts of the island. But the police came down hard on the movement and identified Prabhakaran as trouble. Police visited his parents' home, but he slipped out the back door and took a boat to southern India.

He founded the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam at a secret meeting in Jaffna in 1976. "I named the movement ‘Liberation Tigers' since the tiger emblem had deep roots in the political history of the Tamils, symbolizing Tamil patriotic resurgence. The tiger symbol also depicts the mode of our guerrilla warfare," he said in a 1986 Newsweek interview.

Initially, Prabhakaran trained the fighters himself, although he admitted he was a self-taught guerrilla. "I use my natural instincts and I watch war films and westerns by Clint Eastwood," he told Newsweek.

The sequence of events that would erupt into all-out civil war began with the death of Prabhakaran's lieutenant and close friend, Charles Anthony. Prabhakaran quickly retaliated by ambushing a group of Sri Lankan soldiers, killing 13.

It was the bloodiest Tamil Tigers attack yet and it shook the country's ethnic Sinhalese majority. In Colombo, Sinhalese extremists began rounding up and killing Tamils and looting and burning their homes.

Hundreds of thousands of Tamils fled to places such as Canada while others decided to stay and fight for independence.

"A lot of youngsters joined the movement," said Colonel Karuna Amman, a former Tamil Tigers commander. The anti-Tamil violence had another important effect: India's intelligence service began training and arming the Tigers.

Those close to Prabhakaran describe him as stubborn, committed and disciplined. He does not drink or smoke, and abstains from even the tea for which Sri Lanka is famed. Neither will he drink coffee or soft drinks. "He drinks only milk," a former senior Tamil Tiger who now lives in Canada told the National Post.

He expects the same puritanical conduct from his cadres, who were issued cyanide to swallow if captured. Tamil Tigers fighters had to appear neat and keep their bases pristine. Prabhakaran even sent an envoy to his jungle camps to make sure they were brushing their teeth regularly, the former senior guerrilla said.

India deployed a peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka in 1987, but the Tigers turned against the troops and they withdrew in 1990. A year later, Prabhakaran exacted his vengeance: A Tamil Tigers suicide bomber detonated her explosive vest next to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Revenge is a recurring theme in Prabhakaran's life, said the Indian journalist Narayan Swamy, the author of the biography Prabhakaran; Inside an Elusive Mind.

After Gandhi, the Tigers assassinated President Ranasinghe Premadasa with a suicide bomb, and the Oxford-educated Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, the most senior Tamil in the government, was killed by a suspected rebel sniper. The Tigers made assassination attempts against Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga, Defence Secretary Gotibaya Rajapaksa and the Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka. He also killed off the leaders of rival militant groups.

"He's like a mafia person," Col. Karuna said, "always revenge."

In 2002, Prabhakaran agreed to a ceasefire while Norway tried to broker peace talks and brought the government and the rebels together in Oslo and Geneva. "We had a good opportunity," Col. Karuna said. But he said Prabhakaran would not settle for anything less than full independence and simply used the halt in fighting to re-equip his forces.

Prabhakaran gave his last videotaped speech in November. Standing at a wooden lecturn, wearing his fatigues, he acknowledged the war had become "intense and widespread," but he vowed to fight on.

"This land is ours," he said.

He chastised countries that had outlawed the Tigers, as Canada did, and called on Tamils around the world to "raise their voices, firmly and with determination, in support of the freedom struggle."

Despite his defiance, the Tigers are in rough shape - isolated internationally for their tactics, outmanned and outgunned. Sri Lankan troops entered the rebel capital Kilinochchi on Jan. 2. It was a ghost town. Prabhakaran had fled, along with his fighters and the civilians that human rights groups accuse him of using as human shields. The rebels retreated toward Mullaitivu, the last city under their control, but that fell to government troops three weeks later.

"We are hunting for him," said military spokesman, Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara.

The Sri Lankan Army's 11th Light Infantry later fought its way into a well-guarded house in a coconut grove 500 metres off the main road outside the town of Piramanthalkulama.

It didn't look like much at first, just a cluster of low brick buildings with thatched roofs. But the Eurostar satellite dish and the electric generators suggested it was more than a simple farmer's hut.

As the soldiers searched the compound, they noticed a surveillance camera at a door that led down to an air-conditioned bunker buried 15 metres below the jungle, its walls made of metre-thick concrete.

One of the underground rooms was painted robin's egg blue and furnished with rattan chairs, a few books, plastic flowers and a life-sized stuffed leopard. A framed photo of Prabhakaran in uniform was perched atop the refrigerator. Near the sleeping bunk, an M-16 and an insulin container (Prabhakaran is diabetic) sat on a wooden bedside table.

The military issued a statement saying that Prabhakaran's main hideout had been captured.

But the Sun God was gone.

There were rumours he had escaped to South Africa or Malaysia, but on March 27 the Sri Lankan government said that surrendered Tamil Tigers fighters had claimed to have seen him the previous week in a civilian No Fire Zone, although he was described as depressed, suffering from high blood pressure and diabetes, and so "fat and heavy" that he was hard to recognize.

Thirty-seven years is a long career for a guerrilla on the run. Prabhakaran survived through a combination of shrewdness, caution and luck. "One day a bomb fell barely 50 metres from where he was, throwing up dust on his clothes," his biographer Mr. Swamy said. "But luck, as they say, deserts people at some point. That point seems to have arrived for him."

Recent Comments

Vedar, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

TVA - When is the time talk about the ruthless power hungry monster? It is the same mentality of people like you and the diaspora that has brought the innocent civilians in Sri Lanka the state they are in now. He should be made ineffective going forward if Tamils in Vanni has to prosper. If this monster is let back, then he will do the same for another 30 years and then there won't be any human beings left in Northern parts of Sri lanka.

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Vedar, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

To Gowri: Prabakaran let young kids die for his safety - not for any cause, and when he run out of potions he is hiding behind civilians for his own life. His actions proves that he wants to run a kingdom the way he wants - not to resolve Tamil issue.

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Vedar, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

To Gowri: Separate Eelam will do more damage to Tamils than anything else. The root cause for this problem is that the Tamils in North and their tunnel vision. It is their mindset and arrogance that lead this bloodshed. And for VP - he is paying the right price for what he did - what goes around comes around. Why can't you people force the Tigers to let the people go and fight until death? They can die as heros.

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Vedar, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

To Gowri: What do you have to say of Prabakaran killing his own people in order to come to power - if you look at the numbers - he had killed more Tamils until now. Even now he has every thing to do with the people dying in Wanni. Why can't he force the people to leave - the same way he did to the Muslims in Jaffna ?

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Vedar, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

GOWRY CANADA - There is no need for you to get worked up on this article. Most of this info in this article are not false. You and me we both know. As a Tamil from Sri Lanka this what I have to say - Tamils do not need a separate state within Sri Lanka to live peacefully. There are more than 1 million tamils live in Colombo and other places of Sri Lanka. And there is no such thing called Tamil Eelam. Sri Lanka was called as Eelam historically.

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fairandshare, Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009

Only Newspaper that write unbiased and in support of ordinary Canadians who want to rid the world of Terror and terrorists and murderes like this guy whose rein of terror is going to end ! All these people who write supoorting him are terrorists also - whose Liberal vote is what liberal newspapers want like you know what that supports MP's in scarboro ! Shameless people - how can they look in the mirror and say I buy votes by supporting terrorists ?

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TVA, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

To the author of this article I beg you this is not the time to write about pirabaharan or the ltte fighters its about the bombings of civilinas. The only causalties are only civilians no army or tigers dead innocent civilians and the inaction of the un innocent blood in their hands

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jferdy5, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

Hi Canfool, Yes, the Tamil Tigers are still active in Toronto (and apparently in this comment box as well) and still extorting funds from Tamils in Canada. This won't end until the Tamil Tigers are defeated in battle. They can conduct suicide bombings. But each one they conduct will work against them, showing that they're nothing but violent murderers.

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GowriCanada, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

To Stewart Bell: Few things to correct: “ India deployed a peacekeeping force to Sri Lanka in 1987, but the Tigers turned against the troops and they withdrew in 1990. “ It was on the request of Sri Lanka President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The 1987 “Indo- Sri Lankan Accord” signed to merge the EAST and North of SL Hopefully to end the civil war. The current SL State Terrorist nullifies it. As usual, it has been the typical behaviour of SL State Terrorist for the past 60 years.

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GowriCanada, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

To Stewart Bell: Few things to correct: “ He already has a name for his nation: Tamil Eelam. “ Tamil Eelam was declared even before LTTE. “ Sri Lanka has changed dramatically since winning independence from Britain in 1948 “ SL did not fight to win independence. British gave it. Before British came to SL (then Ceylon), North and East of SL was ruled by a Tamil king. It was Tamils traditional homeland.

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GowriCanada, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

To Stewart Bell: “ The National Post's Stewart Bell will be reporting from Sri Lanka as the civil war draws to a close. “ I hope you will not be sitting in a hotel and echo the SL State Terrorist statement. Rather like any other internationally respected journalist, tell the truth to the World. You have never voiced for suffering/dead Tamil civilians. Rather, you have always with the SL State Terrorist, which treat Tamils as a second-class citizen and kills its citizen. Anyways, Good Luck.

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GowriCanada, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

Separate Eelam only way to end Lankan ethnic strife:

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GowriCanada, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

Obama Administration - White House Statement “ ………..We call upon the Government of Sri Lanka to stop shelling the “safe zone” and blocking international aid groups and media from accessing those civilians who have managed to escape………………..It would compound the current tragedy if the military end of the conflict only breeds further enmity and ends hopes for reconciliation and a unified Sri Lanka in the future.

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

goverment force /army force, who are their brothers, sisters, ,cousins, ,who are ex rapist, muderers who are given high posts/money so to hide the criminal activies by the evil forces, who are living in luxury life, while many tamls, abducted, murdered, raped, disappered without trace, many in thousands, and thousand contue live with out shelter, food, water, many to continue to die, it sickens me the whole world is watching these not doing anyting to support the tamil race.god be with them

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

goverment continue to buy war weapons to wipe out whole race instead of using the money for development and for the food and water for affected people. or should canada watch the srilankan criminal goverment force wipeout whole race/culure.

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

these evil forces even dont mind killing their own kids to hide the truth. lots of their own people , jurnalist murdered who were exposing the truth. high level forcesliving in high class where are 5 months old baby a terrorist?, pregnant woman dying, child as 5months dying of malnutrition, i m disgraced to call myself belonging to the majority group. goverment forces giving ex rapists,murderers, high posts, so they can continue to do all criminal activities.

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

These forces trying to solicit underaged gals in haiti and got caught by the media. they thought they could get away like the do in there homeland. GOOGLE SEARCH SRILANKAN ARMY RAPE .

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

more than 80000 dead, continuing to die, of these bomb, churches/temples, schools , hospitals, in no fire zone area. jurnalists , and humanatarian aid personals, politican murdered, these ruthless, barbarines of the government forces continue to murder in mass amount, children with amputed legs, hands, with shattered body parts all over the place. blocking all medical aids, food, to the affected area. no one has been brought to justice.

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rita200909, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

While the world is watching the srilankan army rape girl as young 8 yrs be raped and murdered, where more than 80000 with corps burried, or burnt. lots and lots named as tigers and gets abducted, murdered, woman and including underaged gals in mass amount getting rapped and murdered, in out of prisons.

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OaO Asithri, Sunday, Apr 26, 2009

Canadians, here are two current articles - A MUST READ - that finally calls a spade a spade: AND

Monday, April 27, 2009

I thought, I won’t survive..............!!!


‘I thought, I won’t survive’

Almost 100,000 civilians have fled the war zone in Northern Sri Lanka. Journalists are generally not given access to fleeing civilians. But Swaminathan Natarajan of the BBC’s Tamil service managed to speak to Vinoo, a young mother who made this difficult journey and is now in a Government-controlled camp in Vavuniya.


We were staying near Puttumatalan hospital. On the night of the 20th there was heavy shelling. I thought, I won’t survive. There was continuous shelling from midnight to the early morning.

Many civilians have made a harrowing journey from the war zone.

During that time we took shelter inside a bunker. At around 6am, when I came out of the bunker, I saw people running all around amid shelling. I also joined them. But soon I got injured in the legs and arms. My husband got injured in his head.

Some shrapnel is still inside his head. Still, we came out of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam)-controlled area along with our son.

My mother and brother also started with us, but I don’t know what happened to them. I have lost all contact with them. The LTTE had built a bund and because of that structure it was difficult to move. People had to walk through neck-deep water.

Some children fell down in the water. It was difficult to cross that area. I don’t know how to describe that. We were trying to escape for the past month. We packed a few of our belongings and tried to escape at an opportune moment.

But we were prevented by the LTTE from escaping from the area.

Once we crossed over to the Government-controlled areas we were checked in at a few checkpoints. They completely checked everything. They made a detailed account of the jewels I was wearing and took note of the cash I had with me.

After the checking we were kept in a military camp, in a place called Chalai. From there we were taken to a school and later we were brought to Vavuniya by bus. Before reaching Vavuniya we were checked again in the Omantai checkpoint.

There has been no proper food for the past three days. Yesterday afternoon we got something to eat. Today, only in the late afternoon, we got food. But the amount is very little. We three shared a single meal.

I have not been given any clothes. So I am still wearing a dress which got wet and is covered by mud and dirt. I have not taken a bath for the past three days. It is very difficult here. My husband’s bandage needs to be changed immediately.

In the LTTE-controlled areas life is very difficult. There is a huge shortage of food. There is heavy fighting and many are dying every day.

Some days it is difficult to get a single meal. So we planned to escape to the government-controlled areas. We were not bothered to take any of our belongings. We made three attempts in one month to escape but all of them were thwarted by the LTTE. Now we have come to safety.

Towards a Sinhala national land policy......?????!!!!!

Towards a national land policy
Uditha Kumarasinghe


Popular actor turned politician Land and Land Development Minister Jeewan Kumaranatunga in an interview with the Daily News expressed his views on the current political situation and the measures taken by his Ministry to settle the land problems of the people.


Q: Has the Land Ministry focused its attention to formulate a National Land Policy?

A: The Ministry has already formulated a National land Policy. In order to implement this policy, the National Land Commission should be established.

Land and Land Development Minister
Jeewan Kumaranatunga. Picture by Saman Sri Wedage

We have already submitted our proposal to the Cabinet for the establishment of this National Land Commission. At present, this is being discussed in the Cabinet and the Cabinet intends to include some more features into this proposal. Therefore, we will be able to implement the National Land Policy once this National Land Commission is established by the Government.

Q: What are the measures taken by the Ministry to provide lands to the landless families?

A: A proper land policy was lacking during the past few years. When we look into the past, lands have been grabbed by certain people using the strength of their body and their political power. Some people have grabbed lands and decided even the boundaries of lands using their political power.

After living in that particular land for a certain period, these people have obtained a permit to that land. As a policy, we have informed the Cabinet and taken a decision, if somebody has grabbed a land by force to consider it as a disqualification to issue a permit or an authorised document to that land.

We also made a request at the Provincial Council level to register the people in each Divisional Secretariat level who don’t have any land of their own. Under this program, a large number of people have registered. When we conduct Land Secretariats priority will be given to these people. I think this would pave the way for creating a proper mechanism to provide lands to the landless in a more justifiable manner.

Q: Has the Ministry formulated any mechanism to overcome the land disputes of the people?

A: We have already introduced several amendments to the existing land bills. Under the ‘Bim Saviya’ program, arrangements have been made to survey every inch of land in the country and computerise the details of lands and provide a certificate to each land accepted by the Government.

As a developing country, this would be a great help for us to separately identify the lands such as industrial and private lands. Therefore, this program will help minimise land problems. In addition, a large number of documents have got stuck due to various prevailing conditions of the land acts. These problems cannot be solved without removing the shortcomings of the Lands Act.

We moved a bill in Parliament to overcome these shortcomings and reached a consensus. But some Provincial Councils opposed it due to lack of their understanding about the content of this bill.

The Ministry will closely work with Provincial Councils regarding this land issue. According to the Land Act, the Land Ministry has been vested with some powers while the Provincial Councils have also been given certain powers. Through these new amendments, we intend to give powers to the Provincial Councils to sort out the land problems in their respective provinces.

Therefore, we hope to move this bill in Parliament again and make the Provincial Land Ministers understand the importance of this new amendments. Only the Central Government Land Ministry can move amendments to the Lands Act. The Ministry will move this bill in Parliament within the next few weeks and get it passed. This would help to overcome a large number of existing land problems.

Q: What are the measures taken to settle the land problems of the people in the North and East?

A: As the initial stage, we have already taken steps to fill the vacancies of the employees in the Eastern province to conduct our survey activities. A discussion will also be called within the next few days to commence the survey activities of the lands in the Eastern Province later.

The Ministry has already sent a team of Government officials to plan these survey activities in the Eastern Province. The Ministry will commence the same program in the North as well when the North is fully liberated from the clutches of the terrorists.

Q: What do you think of the present measures taken by the Government to develop the North and East areas?

A: It is our prime responsibility to provide all the requirements to the people in these two provinces who did not see even an electric bulb during the past three decades due to ruthless terrorism. At present, the Government is fulfilling this task.

But the people in the south should also make some sacrifice regarding this as the Tamil people in the North are our own brethren. When the entire north is liberated from terrorism, the people in the North and the East can largely enjoy that great victory.

Q: At present the people have given a massive mandate to the Government to implement the Mahinda Chinthana policy. According to you what is the key reason for this?

A: At present most of the people are with the Government. Earlier, an opinion had been created that most of the Tamil people vote for the UNP as a habit. This thinking has been completely changed at present.

Today Tamil people and most of the other people firmly believe President Mahinda Rajapaksa is the only leader who can bring a solution to the ethnic problem and they have extended their fullest support to the President to fulfill his task. Even a large number of UNP supporters have also joined hands with the Government to turn this objective into a reality.

Q: What do you think of the support given by the country’s artistes to the Government to eliminate terrorism?

A: It is very important the support given by the artistes to put an end to this issue. Once terrorism is eradicated, the artistes can play a leading role to bridge the gap between the people in the North and the South and minimise the present gap created between Sinhala and Tamil communities. All the artistes should join hands and play a key role to heal the minds of the people who have been seriously affected due to the result of the three decade old terrorist problem.

Q: As a veteran actor, can you be satisfied with the moves taken by the Government for the welfare of the artistes?

A: Amidst various hardships, the Government has taken a series of measures to develop the country’s film industry. The Government has given various concessions and credit facilities to promote the film industry. In addition, the National Performing Art Centre and other cultural centres which are under construction in Colombo will provide more facilities to the country’s dramatists to further develop their skills.

The Government has also focused its attention to provide houses to the artistes. Therefore, we should highly appreciate the measures taken by the Government for the well-being of the artistes.

During the former UNP Government, a large number of artistes went and requested then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe not to sell the National Film Corporation. But those artistes had to turn back within a few minutes later due to remarks made by Wickremesinghe that he will sell all the Government institutions which are running at a loss.

Veteran actors like Ravindra Randeniya who played a leading role for the victory of then UNP Government decided to extend his support to President Mahinda Rajapksa due to his complete dissatisfaction with the measures taken by Wickremesinghe with regard to the Film Corporation issue. But the President as the leader of the country is very concerned over the problems faced by the artistes.

Q: Finally what do you think of artistes entering politics?

A: There is no fault in artistes entering politics. But they should enter politics by identifying the genuine role of a politician. For the first time, an artiste can enter politics by using his popularity. But he cannot remain in this field for long without fulfilling his duties. Politics is not an easy task. But if an artiste enter politics with an honest intention and dedication, definitely he will be accepted by the people.

Jagmohan Singh, write an Open Letter to Charles Anthony, son of Vellupillai Prabhakaran...!!!

நம் இன‌ப் போராட்ட‌ம் ப‌ற்றிய‌ முக‌ம்தெரியாத‌ சீக்கிய‌ ச‌கோத‌ர‌னின் க‌டித‌ம் !

As the world watches and India celebrates elections and cricket, hundreds upon thousands are dying a few hundred kilometers away. It is time to awaken our conscience and the spirit of universal brotherhood.

The death of Eelam Tamils and the destruction of their homeland in Sri Lanka have prompted Jagmohan Singh to write an Open Letter to Charles Anthony, the son of Vellupillai Prabhakaran. The writer pleads for immediate international intervention by civil society from all over the world and expresses solidarity with Tamil fighters and civilians.

Dear Charles Anthony,

Please accept my solidarity with your struggle for survival, identity and freedom.

Having witnessed the struggle in Punjab from close quarters, I can understand the circumstances in which you and your people are waging a fight for survival.

In the media, one day, your father –Vellupillai Prabhakaran is a friend, the other day he is a foe. Some day he was protected, today he is haunted. For some he is a terrorist, for many he is a saviour. What he is should be best left for history to judge.

I belong to a martial race. Sikhs are known to befriend martial people. Though many political leaders in Punjab may not have opened their mouths and made bold statements, believe me,there are many who admire the spirit, determination and fighting prowess of Tamil Eelam fighters. The present news about the downtrend in your struggle has saddened many here.

I write this letter to express solidarity when you and your people face the chemical weapons and poisonous gasses of the Sri Lankan army and when thousands of innocents trapped in the cross fire are given just a few hours to leave.

I am moved by the suffering of the Tamil Eelam population in Sri Lanka. The photographs of the misery of women and children should move mountains but sadly it does not. The whole world, thanks to 24 hour multiple television channels has become immune to pain and suffering.

My heart goes out to all men, women and children who are forced to flee their homeland and also to the core Tamil Eelam fighters. While writing so, I feel a sense of guilt that my writing is only an expression of my inner feelings, though as a Sikh the only thing that I should be doing is joining you in your fight. My prayers and good wishes are with you.

For the Tamil Eelam as for many organizations worldwide, despite the best of timely and thorough documentation, the international community has failed to take action to mitigate the misery and suffering of the thousands in Sri Lanka. Like India downing the Sikhs, Kashmiris and the people of the North-East and getting away with it, today, the Sri Lankan government is getting away with broad daylight murder and mayhem.

It is heartening to see the Tamil Diaspora taking to the streets and forcing dialogue in European capitals. I am particularly impressed by the retort of the Tamil Diaspora to the Norwegian leadership. I have read reports that when Norwegian Tamils laid a siege of the Oslo-based office of the country’s Prime Minister and confronted the government there, the Norwegian Minister for International Development, Erik Solheim is reported to have said, “I can understand the level of desperation among the Tamils in Norway. But, I can't cause miracles."

He is reported to have replied to a question posed by the journalists of Norwegian state owned NRK, "I can talk to the demonstrators. I can talk to USA, Japan and EU once again to see if there is anything more that could be done to stop the war in Sri Lanka." Tamil writer K. P. Aravintham’s reply to him is apt and classic. He said, “Solheim may not be able to perform miracles, but at least he should have restrained himself from committing blunders. Diplomacy may be the art of the possible, but a liberation struggle is to make impossible, possible.”

Scandinavian countries are particularly known for their courage and conviction in the area of human rights and that is why perhaps your leadership had chosen the brokerage of Norway. However, Aravintham has hit the nail on the head when he said, “Norway failed in grasping the point. Posing as a neutral party to peace facilitation, Norway has no justification in joining the co-chairs demanding the LTTE to lay down arms. More serious is the stand expecting the civilians of Vanni to forfeit themselves into the genocidal hands of Colombo. Through their procedural failures, the Norwegians have brought in discredit to the whole idea of international peace brokering. There is still time for them to mend their ways if they can come out really independent from playing stooges to geo-political ambitions of powers and are prepared to commit themselves to the norms of global human civilization.”

The beleagured people of Tamil Eelam continue to reel under the jackboots of the Sinhalese despots with active and passive support from India and many other countries. The affinity of Eelam Tamils with their brethren in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu is also being ignored. Thirteen Tamil sisters and scores of others are on fast unto death in your support, but do the media and the government care, particularly when the whole country is in an election mode?

From a distance the pan-Tamil posturing by the Tamil leadership in Tamil Nadu appears to be deceptive and insincere. I am not sure whether they are genuinely supporting your mission. You know better.

To me it seems that like the Tamil leadership, the Indian leadership too has been playing Chanakya with you and your cause. And, successfully. The world cannot clearly decipher whether India is your foe or friend. India revels in this kind of double entendre. It continues to train and arm Sri Lankan army personnel to the teeth, yet maintains a soft face.

I am not a defence analyst, but I think that when the Norway-led peace process started, the struggle of your people was hit hard. I am sure your leaders then had practical reasons for the decision but invariably such peace process attempts of insincere governments enable the entrenched violators to further arm themselves and cause more death and destruction. India has always done the same with Sikhs, Kashmiris, Nagas and Mizos. The changed geo-political situation of the world after 9/11 has changed the paradigm of your struggle and this could also be the cause for shifting stands by the Norwegians.

Last year around this time, Kosovo was born a new country. A year before that, Timor Lieste attained freedom. I was hoping that 2009 would belong to Tamil Eelam. I am still hopeful, though it does not appear likely this year.

There is an impression worldwide that your struggle is at the last stage. With truth as a casualty and facts not clearly emerging, it is my sincere hope that it is not so. Your struggle must carry on. You must continue to hold high the flag of rebellion and freedom.

It is also my hope that former US attorney Bruce Fein succeeds in indicting US citizen Gothabaya Rajapakse and green card holder Gen. Fonseka for crimes against humanity. The New York based Genocide Prevention Project has issued a red alert against eight countries where genocide is happening and Sri Lanka is one of them. Let us hope they succeed in heightening awareness of the deteriorating human rights situation in your homeland.

Even in the United Nations Security Council, there is a bleak hope the Mexican ambassador to UN -Claude Hellen’s attempt to bring a resolution on the question of responsibility to protect one’s own population goes through.

Dear Mr. Charles, as the son of a man who ventures to change the geography of South Asia, I am sure you would keep the fight on. From my side, I have this to say, as I told the Kosovars when they won their freedom, “We have a saying attributed to the Tenth master of the Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, which reads, “no one gives you freedom on a platter; those who have it, get it by the sheer grit of their own determination and strength.” Sooner or later, you will have it.

I wish you and your people to have the taste of freedom in this lifetime. Let God Almighty shower his blessings on the Tamil people and their suffering end and let them stand tall as a free people in the world.

Jagmohan Singh

The author is a commentator based in Ludhiana, Punjab. He may be contacted at

தமிழ் நிலவன்

கணிப்பொறி நிபுணர், பெங்களூர்.


Priyanka Gandhi on her life and politics

Barkha Dutt, Saturday April 25, 2009, New Delhi

The media has one persistent question for Priyanka Gandhi. Will she join politics? Her answer, so far, has remained a steadfast, No.

But, now for the first time, Priyanka Gandhi, the charismatic campaigner for the Congress in Amethi and Rae Bareili reveals that for many years of her life, she was sure that politics was "absolutely what she wanted to do."

In an extensive interview to NDTV's Barkha Dutt, Priyanka talks about how she really felt about her father's assassination and why she decided not join politics despite knowing that she connects with people better than most politicians. " I know I'm good at it, I'm not a fool" she says, in this candid conversation, where she also describes herself to be more like her father, than her grandmother.

Barkha: Priyanka I know you've been asked the question of whether you will join politics a million times. So I'm not going to ask that question. The question I'm going to ask instead is, we know you've said you don't want to be in politics, but you've never told us why you don't want to be in politics?

Priyanka: Frankly, I'm not sure I've figured out why myself. But I'm very clear I don't want to be in politics, I'm very happy living my life the way I am. I think there are certain aspects of politics which I'm just not suited to.

Barkha: You're saying that from experience, from having seen a lot of it?

Priyanka: Yes, from having seen a lot of it. I mean, there was a time when I was a kid, when I was about 16-17 where I thought this is absolutely what I want to do with my life.

Barkha: Really, you were excited by it?

Priyanka: Yes, but I think I wasn't very clear about my own identity.

Barkha: When was that moment that you knew for sure, that you would never be in this profession?

Priyanka: In 1999. Because in that election it was a question in my mind, whether I would want to stand for elections or not. So I did some thinking, and I realised that I didn't.

Barkha: And since you identify it as such a definitive moment, what was that moment for you?

Priyanka: Actually I went for Vipasana meditation. I was so troubled by the fact that I didn't know my mind, so I just disappeared and went for 10 days of meditation, so that I better know what my own mind is, rather than what other people want of me.

Barkha: Did something happen in 1999 that made you take such a definitive decision?

Priyanka: No it's just introspection that happened.

Barkha: OK, now the assumption from afar is that Priyanka Gandhi does not want to be in politics because right now she is devoting all her time to her family, to her kids. So then the next question becomes, when the children grow up -- maybe then -- will her decision change?

Priyanka: This question for me has existed since I was 14 years old. When I first came to campaign here, even, these things were said about me -- that I would be suited to politics, and that I looked like my grandmother and I am like my grandmother. And I have to say that I think, because you are asking me, what really was the definitive thing; I think it was a growing up thing, rather than an epiphany.

Barkha: It wasn't a specific event?

Priyanka: I grew into myself. Earlier my own identity was a bit confused, because I did idealise my grandmother, I grew up in a household where she was the head and she was an extremely powerful woman. Not only politically powerful, but she was a powerful human being to be around. So being a little girl and seeing this woman who was strong and stood for so much, it did have an effect on me. So I think my own identity was confused until a certain point and when I discovered that- 'Hey, Priyanka is actually this'- then I realised that this is not for me.

Barkha: As simple as that?

Priyanka: It wasn't simple, I can tell you.

Barkha: It was a deep conflict at one point?

Priyanka: Of course.

Barkha: I liked what you have often said that life is too complex to ever use a word like never and the media took that to mean -- maybe tomorrow, maybe when the kids grow up. But you seem to suggest that in a moment of internal resolution you've settled this question once and for all, is that correct?

Priyanka: I think so, yes. And when I said -- one should never say never in life -- I really meant in life, I didn't mean in politics. I meant in life, because as you grow up, you realise that there are a lot of things that you're very rigid about when you're younger -- you think, this will never happen to me, I will never do this and I could never be like that. And as you grow up, you become a mother and everyday you're faced with something new and you have to respond to that thing. And you realise that your responses change as you grow up, so you can't just be absolutely rigid black and white and say 'yes' and 'no' to things. That's what I meant.

Barkha: But, what is the definition of being or not being in politics? Because you may never contest an election, but from what I understand, you are in politics, you're a political person. For example, it's quite well known that when the family takes decisions, you're part of those decisions and sometimes they are political decisions. So, would you at least say that you're in politics to that extent that politics is in your blood, it's in your DNA, its part of your life?

Priyanka: Yes, to that extent, absolutely. I belong to a family where most members of the family are in politics, they have been, I've grown up in that atmosphere. I mean I've grown up in an atmosphere where at the dining table you discussed big political issues. Right from when you were a kid. So obviously to that extent I am. And whenever my help is required by mother, by my brother, for small things generally, not big things, like I wrote all my mother's speeches in her first campaign.

Barkha: And now?

Priyanka: No, no, now I don't.

Barkha: Never?

Priyanka: Very rarely. If I'm passing by and I see something's being written then my advice is asked for, but otherwise very rarely.

Barkha: But do you prep her sometimes for a press conference or an interview or something?

Priyanka: No.

Barkha: She's also much more comfortable in a sense?

Priyanka: Absolutely, completely comfortable, doesn't require any tutoring, prepping, nothing. And she's comfortable being herself, now. Because she was very shy, so that was hard in beginning.

Barkha: You say that, and I was going to ask you that, that in a sense you're always described as the more gregarious person. As a person who'll sit down here under a tree with me and talk freely. Whereas both your mother and Rahul are seen as much more reticent, more withdrawn, more shy. Would that be correct?

Priyanka: My mother is shy. Rahul is ... I'm much more a recluse than Rahul is.

Barkha: Really?

Priyanka: Yes.

Barkha: It doesn't come across that way at all...

Priyanka: Personally I'm a complete recluse. I'm OK in this situation and I sort of think that I'm doing a job here, I'm doing my duty here and this is part of the job that I'm doing. So I look at it that way. But it's not an extroversion.

Barkha: So actually you're more fiercely private while able to...

Priyanka: I'm a recluse.

Barkha: A recluse?

Priyanka: Yes, I'm almost a recluse.

Barkha: You don't like people?

Priyanka: No it's not that I don't like people, I like people, but I spend most of my time on my own.

Barkha: So this perception that Priyanka is a gregarious person and Rahul is a shy person is a media construct?

Priyanka: No, I think perhaps the difference between me, Rahul and my mother is that I'm very much more open about my personal stuff in that sense. I can sit and you know somebody will ask me something very personal and I'll just say it, which Rahul and my mother are more reserved about.

Barkha: But you were talking about watching your mother change and evolve, you used that word. How have you seen the change in her over the years?

Priyanka: Well, in the beginning as I said, first of all, she wanted to have nothing to do with politics. And people ask why did she enter politics and all, and it was in one simple sentence she said that - I can't look at these photos in this room if I don't do this, which were the photographs of my father, my grandmother. Because she felt that this was her duty and that is what she really felt. So she really did it out of a sense of duty and she went completely against her grain to do this duty. She was shy, it was hard for her, public speaking was very difficult for her and both of us had to really be there for moral support, for everything. And now she's completely on her own. She's comfortable... so that's the evolution.

Barkha: And do you feel proud of that?

Priyanka: I'm extremely proud of my mother, I can't tell you how much. If there's one woman I admire in the world, it's my mother. Because I've seen what it's taken for her to do it. And when I say I wouldn't do it out of a sense of duty, it's that I wouldn't have that courage to go completely against my grain because I felt it was my duty to some ideal or to my family.

Barkha: Even though you've seen your own mother do it?

Priyanka: Absolutely. Because deep down somewhere, as a woman, as a mother, deep down somewhere, I feel that she has gone against her grain in a sense. I mean, of course, the fact that duty was such a powerful pull, also means that is part of her, that is also who she is, that duty is a powerful pull for her. So that is very much who she is, but deep down I see my mother as retiring in a forest cottage in the hills, reading, gardening, she loves that stuff. So as a daughter sometime I feel, why not? Why couldn't she allow herself that?

Barkha: You think that will happen one day?

Priyanka: I hope so. I'm building a little cottage in Shimla, hopefully she'll use it.

Barkha: And hopefully you'll use it too. But Priyanka, you said that you won't have that courage, but she made that choice in very very extenuating circumstances, God forbid those extenuating circumstances are in front of you, you're really too philosophical to know what you would do and what you wouldn't do....

Priyanka: I don't know what I would do if I were faced with particular circumstances, but I think it would be very hard for me to be convinced that, for example, the party needed me, or something like that. I would rather do something like that out of my internal feeling, something that moves within me.

Barkha: One of the things you've said in interviews is that it's a mistake to say that you're like your grandmother, you're actually much more like your dad...

Priyanka: It's true...

Barkha: Although everybody sort of prototypes you as -- she has the walk of her grandmother, she drapes her sari in that way, but you don't think you're like that?

Priyanka: I have a huge problem saying no, I couldn't say no to you, I couldn't say no to a thousand others, I have a problem saying no, my grandmother would say it like this (snaps her fingers).

Barkha: But beyond that, that's just one difference, although it's a fundamental difference, I take that point. But you see yourself more like your father?

Priyanka: Definitely, I see myself more like my father..

Barkha: In what way?

Priyanka: Well, my grandmother was a different personality. She was... I think my father was gentler... not to say that my grandmother wasn't gentle in her own way. But my father was gentler, and I really think that I'm gentler than she was.

Barkha: So whose taken after your grandmother in the family?

Priyanka: My brother.

Barkha: Less gentle, tougher?

Priyanka: My brother was absolutely, let me tell you, her favourite and the idealizing granddaughter would be kind of marginalized for the favourite grandson.

Barkha: Did that feel bad at that time?

Priyanka: (smiling) Little bit...

Barkha: Little bit, yes...

Priyanka: But she had this bond with him. And she taught him and she spent a lot of time with him, talking to him. Even the morning that she passed away. And I think that Rahul has imbibed a lot of that and his thinking is in many ways is a lot like my father, because he is a visionary like that. He's an institution builder like my father was, but it's a good mix. Because his understanding of politics is really very good. Much better than he is given credit for. And that I think comes from my grandmother.

Barkha: And you think he's also tougher?

Priyanka: He's definitely tougher...

Barkha: And more able to maybe take an unemotional decision?

Priyanka: He will not suffer fools. He's tougher. Definitely.

Barkha: I want to share a little story with you, which reminded me of you. We were doing this television programme on Qasab, the terrorist who has been caught in Mumbai, and one of the relatives who had lost his wife, Shantanu Saikia, in that horrible moment, was telling me how his son, who's only 12, wanted to go and meet this man. And he said you know, we've decided as a family that we're not going to carry anger any more. We've decided that we want to not follow this trial. We want to maybe even forgive this man and I have a child who wants to meet this man. And immediately, though in a very different context, it reminded me of you and your visit to Nalini in jail and I actually said that to Shantanu, and I said that Priyanka was so much older and so many years had passed. I wanted to ask you, how many years did you live with thinking that maybe you wanted to meet her -- feeling before it actually happened?

Priyanka: Not very long actually. Maybe, a year and a half or so. In the beginning when my father was killed, I didn't realise it, but I was furious. I was absolutely furious inside. I was furious not with particular individuals who killed him, but I was furious with the whole world.

Barkha: When did you learn to recognise that rage?

Priyanka: It was a very slow process. It was realising that you're angry. I think the whole thing about this whole business of forgiveness is really, at some level, we all consider ourselves victims. Maybe it can be a case of someone being nasty to us, or someone would have done something like kill someone we love, which is a bigger thing and then we consider ourselves victims. But the minute you realise that you're not a victim and that the other person is as much victim of that same circumstance as you, then you can't put yourself in a position where you are anyone to forgive someone else. Because your victimhood has disappeared. And to me, people ask about non-violence, I think true non-violence is the absence of victimhood. The sense that somebody else is doing harm to you. Whatever is happening to you is happening because of your own circumstances, you are creating a lot of that suffering. And anybody else who does something overtly, like kill somebody you love, or hurts you, beats you, that is also an action that is happening because of their suffering.

Barkha: Did that meeting (with Nalini) help purge the anger? Or was the anger already gone before?

Priyanka: No I was already not angry. The anger, I think, didn't last that long. Because when you're younger, you feel angry and you don't understand things. But as you grow up, the anger passes and of course there's been a lot of time, its been 17 years. That meeting, for me -- the big learning that came from that meeting was exactly this, that I was still, though I was not angry any more, I did not hate her, and I wanted to meet her, I was still thinking that I was somebody who could forgive her for something she had done. And then I met her and I realised -- what am I talking about?

Barkha: Because there are no victims?

Priyanka: I mean, here is a woman who's gone through as much if not more than me. And whatever she's done...

Barkha: You honestly feel that?

Priyanka: Of course, honestly, of course.

Barkha: Your mother, even before this happened, commuted her death sentence to life because otherwise her child would have been an orphan. Where does that spirit come from?

Priyanka: Because you've been through it. You've been through it. Something has happened to you that has made you feel awful. Something has happened that has crushed you inside. So how can you want that to happen to someone else? An innocent child, what has that child got to do with anything?

Barkha: When you hear the whole politicised debate around the LTTE that's taking place in these elections. I know that previously you said that you didn't really want to get into it, but as a concept -- when you see the very strong Tamil nationalism in Tamil Nadu, coming from all parties, including DMK. Does that make you feel uncomfortable, does it make you just withdraw or are you able to take those opinions also head on?

Priyanka: I think for me there's a clear separation. First of all, I completely admire the Tamil people. I really do. They're intelligent, they are great workers. That's one people that I really admire. So I understand that feeling, I understand the Tamil nationalism, I understand their cause. I don't agree with their method, because fundamentally as a human being I don't agree with the method. I don't agree with killing people for anything. But I make a very clear separation between the political and the personal. I completely understand that as a nation you cannot condone the killing of an Ex-Prime Minister. But I also understand a nation cannot react as Priyanka, daughter of Rajiv reacts. That is my own personal reaction.

Barkha: You're able to separate that?

Priyanka: Absolutely. It's a complete separation in my mind.

Barkha: But when you hear a political ally maybe being soft on Prabhakaran, along with many other parties in Tamil Nadu, he's not the only one, you're able to make that separation of political and personal?

Priyanka: Absolutely, and when its political, it's very clear, it's very clear that he's making a political choice, so why should I bear that as a grudge against him.

Barkha: And you wouldn't bring the personal loss of your father to that political equation?

Priyanka: Not at all.

Barkha: So you're not disturbed when you hear these kind of comments?

Priyanka: Not at all.

Barkha: That's pretty amazing. I did want to ask you, you spoke about how your mother was a reluctant participant in politics and I remember I had just done this one brief interview with her, where she had spoken about something that she said quite often, how she never wanted her husband, your father to get into politics and she was always scared that something would happen to him. Now, you've seen what happened with your grandmother, you've seen what happened with your father. Do you feel scared for your brother, do you feel scared for your mother, do you feel scared for yourself?

Priyanka: No, I don't. I don't feel scared for them at all. But I did have this one moment of terror in 2004 when I peeped into her office and I saw this bunch of, you know, Lalu ji and everybody surrounding her and saying that you have to be Prime Minister, I had this one moment of complete terror. And I burst out crying.

Barkha: You did?

Priyanka: Yes, and I didn't realise that I was afraid. And I burst out crying. I ran to my brother, I was like -- she's going to die -- and, I realized -- hey, you know, you think you're not scared, but you are scared of losing someone else you love. So I won't be very macho and say that it's never crossed my mind, but I think that since then, I mean on a day-to-day basis, no. I realise that this is part of her duty. Like now I know there are threats on her, there are threats on Rahul, but I would never say to them -- don't go out, be in the car, don't do this, don't do that. I wouldn't, because I know that they're doing their job, it's part of their duty and if they lose their life doing so, then, we must accept it.

Barkha: Do people misunderstand how clear she always was, your mother, that she did not want to be Prime Minister?

Priyanka: I think so, yes. She was clear way before the election. Rahul and I would have these discussions with her where we would say -- why don't you just say so now?. But she didn't and because it came about after the elections, I think the idea went around that perhaps her decision was because of external pressures, rather than her own clarity. But she was very clear from before.

Barkha: And you and Rahul never wanted her to be PM?

Priyanka: No, we didn't.

Barkha: But, there is a sort of acceptance that one day, if politics goes a certain way, Rahul will be Prime Minister, or could be, I won't say will be.

Priyanka: It's quite possible, yes.

Barkha: It's quite possible. Is the family comfortable with that? In terms of the background of reluctant participation?

Priyanka: I think so, yes. Provided that he works hard towards it, provided that he goes through the grind and provided that he deserves it.

Barkha: Is there anything you'd like to see different him as a politician, not as a brother, since you said you can separate the two...

Priyanka: No, I think one thing that I admire about my brother that he has this ability to be focused on what he wants to do. So people will say, you know- You should be a Minister, you should be part of government, you should learn how it works- they'll give all the best reasons for it. But he will say -- no, I'm in charge of the Youth Congress, I think that democracy is important, I think it's the most important thing right now for political parties in India and I'm going to focus on that -- and he does it. And he does it regardless of what anybody thinks of him. I mean, remember the UP election, where he was berated and in the press and everything was piled onto him. But he just went ahead with what he thought was right and, the other thing that I think is great about him as a politician is he's very good with... he doesn't have this thing that he absolutely has to succeed every time and he's very good with things in which perhaps maybe in the short term he wont succeed but he can see that there is a long term success. He will work through that short term failure.

Barkha: Like the decision for the Congress to go it alone in many states right now?

Priyanka: Yes, and I think that's so important for a politician, to be able to sacrifice the now, for the future.

Barkha: What about the charges of dynastic inheritance?

Priyanka: I don't buy that. Because, you know, I would buy it if there weren't elections every 5 years where we were elected by people. People ask me here, in Amethi, how come you're getting elected every time? It's certainly not just because he's a Gandhi. It is because that name and that family stands for something that has been done here, people have seen work. People have seen commitment, people have seen honesty and therefore they support. So I don't buy that.

Barkha: It's been an unpleasant campaign in some ways. Your cousin, Varun, is filing his nominations this week, did that make you upset, that whole controversy beyond the political because it was a member of the family? In sense, I mean in a broader sense, although maybe you all don't really talk anymore...

Priyanka: No, I haven't actually met him since, I think since the day he turned 18.

Barkha: That's a long time...

Priyanka: And before that on my wedding. So it's just sporadic in all these years. But I don't want to make too many comments about Varun, he's after all a cousin and I've said what I had to say. On principle I think it was wrong. And that did upset, me, my brother, all of us, in the way that you think that every member of this family stands for something, not just because it's a title, or it's a thing.. its something that we really believe. It is something we've justified many things with. Like the death of our own father, as children, we justified that this was for our country because he believed in something. Maybe it was a childish thing, so we've lived by these things. Therefore to see a member of our family who somehow is not being able to abide by those same principles is painful.

Barkha: Now you personally- when you hear yourself described as a natural at politics- does that feel good? Have you made your peace with the kind of public gaze there is on you, your children who were here, Robert, have you made your peace with that?

Priyanka: Yes, I think I've made my peace with it. And I think when you talked about my conflict, one of the big things of my conflict because I knew that it came naturally to me. So the confusion was, is this really who I am? Or who am I?

Barkha: So you knew you were good at it, basically?

Priyanka: I know, I'm not a fool. I know I'm comfortable with people; its not an effort for me to talk in front of people or to say what I think or to connect to them, its not an effort at all. But does that mean I want to be in politics? No.

Barkha: And yet your kids were here as part of the whole campaign?

Priyanka: Because I think its very important for my kids know this world as well and I think sometimes its misunderstood, it seems like I'm trying to thrust them into something, but it's not that at all. As children, they must be used to the fact that their family is involved in this thing. They'll see crowds. I don't want them to suddenly grow up, when they're 14-15 be intimidated or to suddenly think that they are great shakes because people are running around them. I want them to be used to it, so unless I do it at this age, bring them into this situation where people are all around us, and it's a normal thing, rather than it being something that they suddenly hits them at 15 and they think that they are the cats whiskers because they have a few people calling them great and wonderful.

Barkha: I can't let you go without asking you, how is your Hindi so proficient? I have so many friends who ask me that all the time?

Priyanka: To be very honest with you, full credit for my Hindi goes to Mrs. Teji Bacchan.

Barkha: Really?

Priyanka: Yes. Because when I was a kid I spent a lot of time with her. And she started giving me Bacchan ji's poetry to read, which I loved. So I read all his books, then she gave me other books to read- 'Godaan' by Premchand and all. So she really got me interested in Hindi literature. Its because that I read so much, that my hindi is good.

Barkha: And can you read Hindi today, can you read it comfortably like you did then?

Priyanka: Yes, yes of course. I still do.

Barkha: Thanks so much for your time. And all the best.