Accusing the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai of false propaganda, unlawful intelligence gathering and tipping off exercises, Agni Subramaniam, the Executive Director of Chennai based Manitham Human Rights Organization is requesting the authorities to close down this Consulate.
He has made several accusations against this Consulate in an interview to Kumudam Reporter, the well known Tamil weekly magazine from Tamilnadu.
The English translation of this week``s (23 03 2008) Kumudam Reporter article is as follows:
It appears that the Lankan government, which causes chaotic situations in the north - east of Sri Lanka, has now ventured to cross the seas and cause mischief and chaos in Tamil Nadu.
This is the impression that is created by a book published by the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai.
`LTTE in the eyes of Tamil Nadu` is the title of the book. In this book, published by the Lanka Foreign Ministry, it is portrayed as though the Tamil Nadu were against the Tigers. The book is a collection of news stories that appeared in favour of Sri Lanka in the Tamil Nadu media. This book has created a stir among the supporters of Tamil Eelam in Tamil Nadu.
Having laid his hands on this book, Agni Subramaniam, the Executive Director of Manitham Human Rights Organization, brought the matter to the notice of Dr.Ramadas, the Leader of Pattalli Makkal Katchie.
The angered Ramadas, addressing the general sessions of his Party, charged that the Lankan Government has published this book to inject venom into Tamil Nadu politics and demanded that the Lankan Embassy in Tamil Nadu be closed down.
In an interview, Agni Subramainam told that the Manitham Human Rights Organization has been engaged for the last 4 years in exposing the excesses committed on Lankan Tamils by their government. The Sri Lankan Government has published this book to launch a conceptual war, while perpetrating military onslaughts in their country.
He continued in the following words:-
This book containing 220 high quality pages is a collection of selected news stories that appeared in favor of Sri Lanka in the Tamil Nadu media between January and December last year.
Although the title of the book refers to the LTTE, most of the views are totally against the Lankan Tamils. The book has three sections - Editorial, news in the English media and the interviews that appeared in the Tamilnadu news papers.
The introductory page carries views expressed against the Tamil people with focus on LTTE.
Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai distributes the books free to the journalists, who carry propaganda against the Eelam Tamils.
I got a copy from a friend in the Embassy. I was shocked to read the stories.
Ramadas, Thirumavalan and Seeman are angered over this book. Since we have received only one book, we are reading it one by one.
According to a publisher, the cost of each copy of the book would be more than Rs 1000, since it has a higher printing quality. What is the ultimate motive of distributing this book free of charge?
If the purpose had been to portray the views of the Tamil Nadu media on the Lankan Tamil issue, the views of both sides should have been published impartially. But it is unjust to have compiled the views favourable only to the Sri Lankan government and prejudicial to the other.
It was the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai that provided such stories to the Tamil Nadu journalists. It was this Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai that gifted gold chains and cash to certain journalists here. It is these media men who revel over these gifts, plant such biased news against the Lankan Tamils leaked to them by the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai.
Thereafter, it is the same Consulate that compiles the news stories that are not impartial. This is nothing but a mockery. Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai makes use of Tamils of Tamil Nadu to write against Lankan Tamils to carry out a designed propaganda against Lankan Tamils - thus states Agni Subramaniam.
We posed him the question whether we can demand the closure of the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai merely for this reason. His response to this question is given below:-
It is not only the journalists that they influence. They have certain leaders of the Tamilnadu fishing community under their undue influence. These selected fishermen pass certain information regarding their fellow fishermen whom they dislike, to Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai, which in turn tips off to the Lankan Navy so that the Navy can intercept those fishermen and attack them.
Instead of engaging in legitimate functions of an Embassy, it indulges in intelligence gathering and in tipping off exercises.
Further more, we have reliable information that the Consulate has collected the cell phone numbers, residential addresses, official addresses etc of persons such as film directors Thangagpachan, Seeman, Pugalaenthy, Thirumavalavan (Leader of Viduthalai Siruthaikal) and others who are supporters of Tamil Eelam.
What is the need for this exercise? Is it to tap the telephones of these persons? It is the Head of the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai, Hammsa, who is indulging in such excesses.
The embassy in Delhi is adequate enough to handle its affairs. Why should there be a Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai? Is it for intelligence gathering?
The Tamil Nadu government and the central government must take steps to close down the Sri Lankan Consulate in Chennai.
Besides carrying news against the Lankan Tamils, the book contains stories that are prejudicial to the interests of the Tamil Nadu government.
It is learnt that having come to know about this, Tamil Nadu News Division has acquired a copy of this book and has begun investigations in to the matter.
About 6 to 7 Tamils disappear daily in Jaffna alone.
The government of Sri Lanka has treated a Netherlands judge of International Criminal Court and former Justice of India, Mr. P.N.Bagwathy, who went to investigate into the disappearances in a derogatory manner. Human Rights Watch has published a 243 paged document against the Lankan government regarding the mysterious disappearances of Tamils.
In Colombo alone, 100 Tamils disappeared recently. One does not know whether they are dead or alive.
Mahinda`s government has refused permission for international NGOs and international journalists to visit areas under dispute.
The Lankan government refuses permission to dispatch food items to Killinochchi, where Tamil people live. 100`s of Tamils die. Price hike is unbearable. In such a context, should we not infer the free issue of such a costly publication as a war strategy!` concluded Agni Subramaniam.