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India Politics Sri Lanka

Denying visas, deporting people … Indian style democracy?

Few days back the SriLankan Tamil National Alliance ( TNA) MP M K Shivaji Lingam was denied permission to enter India and was sent back as soon as he arrived from Dubai at Chennai airport. He is one of the Presidential candidate in the elections to be held in Sri Lanka next month. It should be noted that he was ordered to quit India in December last year.

Mr. Sivajilingam. MP, Srilanka

Mr. Sivajilingam. MP, Srilanka

Mr. Sivajilingam. MP, Srilanka, not allowed to speak in India

The reasons for denial of permission is not known immediately. It may be due to the continuing policy of the government of India to support the anti – Tamil government in Sri Lanka . The activities of Mr. Sivaji Lingam during his previous stay in Tamil Nadu such as participation in meetings organised by Tamil Nationalist leaders like Nedumaran , Vaiko and his continuous efforts to speak for the human rights of Ealem Tamils should have provided enough reasons for the anti – Tamil forces entrenched in the Indian bureaucracy to block his entry to India to satisfy their collaborators in Srilanka.

However Mr. Sivaji Lingam should have the right to visit Tamil Nadu to participate in religious and cultural activities or for any medical treatment. It looks strange while Sinhalese political leaders, MPs and their relatives can visit India freely, an elected Tamil MP of the same neighboring country is denied such hospitality. If the denial is an effort to cut the relation between Ealem Tamils and Indian Tamils it should be condemned.

Dr Ellyn Sue Shander

Dr Ellyn Sue Shander

Dr Ellyn Sue Shander, US citizen, not allowed to speak in India

In September 2009 the Indian high commission in New York canceled the Indian visa of Dr Ellyn Sue Shander, a US-based humanitarian worker. The Stanford-based American woman activist was scheduled to deliver lectures in India on the human rights violations of the Srilankan government. Mr. M.Natarajan, husband of Ms Sasikala, close aid of AIADMK leader Ms Jayalalithaa and the organiser of the seminars accused both the Central and State governments of curbing free speech in the country.

In November 2009 Sebastian Seeman an Indian citizen and a noted Tamil film director was asked to leave Canada canceling his engagement to speak against the human rights violations in Srilanka and in favour of achieving a home land for Tamils in Srilanka. The reason for deportation was nothing but his fiery speech supporting  the LTTE.

Mr.Seeman, Film Director

Mr.Seeman, Film Director

Mr.Seeman, Film Director, not allowed to speak in Canada

We do not know how a democratic Canadian law can be any different from the Indian law on free speech. The Indian court could not detain people like Vaiko under Prevention of Terrorism Act ( POTA) and released him by acknowledging that mere speech cannot be considered as a support to a banned organisation. But even after the defeat of LTTE and the killing of their leaders we wonder what support Seeman can give to that organisation by his few speeches. That exposes a hidden agenda among the low level officers of SriLanka, India and Canada to curtail free speech to suit their foreign relations defending their personal interests.

All over the world, the Governments have failed to understand the difference between a freedom struggle and terrorism. The key to the entry of a country is handed over to immigrant officers. They issue visas to terrorists furnishing a false identity and deny visas or deport activists who had already proved themselves as credible personalities with responsible position. It only shows the arbitrary attitude of allowing terrorist activities and suppressing a non violent democratic activity – idiocy institutionalised.

India is a democratic country and it cannot follow Srilanka or any other country in not allowing foreign activists or press persons from participating in events related to human rights. Unfortunately Indian policy makers have a narrow vision with respect to universal values and that may take India to be identified with states like Srilanka regarding freedom of speech and expression.

The government of India introduced new regulations on the issue of Visas on November 4 in the wake of disclosures about the abuse of tourist visas by 26/11 suspect David Coleman Headley. The home ministry issued a directive that foreign nationals having a long-term multi-entry Indian tourist visa must have a mandatory two-month gap between two visits. The new guidelines were opposed by the US and British governments.

In India Mr.Shashi Tharoor , Minister of state for external affairs observed in a Twitter, a social networking site, criticising the government for its new visa regulations.On December 26, Tharoor observed

“Issue is not security vs (versus) tourism, but whether visa restrictions protect our security. 26/11 killers had no visas”

The Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said the government will go by the home ministry’s guidelines and stressed that differences over issues should not be discussed in public. This old attitude of preventing discussions is not going to produce the desired results. Mr. Krishna should demonstrate his diplomatic strength with USA in extradicting David Coleman Headley a terrorist, where India has let the head go and tries to catch the tail. Instead Mr. Krishna is acting against individuals Sivaji Lingam and Dr Ellyn Sue Shander who have no weapons except their words and language . This attitude reminds a coward husband attacking his weaker and loyal wife in house instead of fighting with a strong evil man waiting in the street.

We are undergoing a situation where an American (Dr Ellyn Sue Shander) can speak only in US, an Indian (Seeman) can speak only in India, a Srilankan (Sivaji Lingam) can speak only in Srilanka (of course under the prevailing conditions, risking his life). Then how we can say that the values of human rights and free speech are universal? The governments may fall or rise but the values should remain permanently. If all our globalisation is only for selling goods and services and not for universal values, this planet will be ruled only by merchants of death.

It is not wisdom to lose the Capital
for the sake of Interest.

( ThiruValluvar 463 )