India’s MDMK General Secretary Vaiko condemned the Sri Lankan Government for changing the names of Government-owned establishments that were named after Tamil-origin Sri Lankan politician and trade unionist Saumyamurthy Thondaman, the Times of India reported.
A Government vocational training centre, a cultural complex and a stadium were named after Tondaman, who was one of the senior-most politicians.
Tondaman had been cabinet member for 21 continuous years. The Maithripala Sirisena government in October last year changed the names of these government establishments leading to protests by the Tamil-origin Sri Lankans in the island nation.
In a statement, Vaiko accused the Sirisena Government of indulging in an uncivilised act of attempting to wipe away the identity of Tamil-origin Sri Lankan people in the nation by dropping the name of an influential Tamil-origin Sri Lankan politician in government establishments.
Vaiko urged the Indian government to condemn the Sri Lankan Government and exert pressure on the island nation to rename the government establishments after Tondaman.
After assuming charge as the leader of Ceylon Workers’ Congress (CWC) in the 1940s, Tondaman had untiringly fought for the basic and fundamental rights of the Tamil-origin workers of tea estates in the country, the MDMK leader said.
Recalling Tondaman’s immense services, Vaiko said he spearheaded non-violent protests over the years leading to the signing of the Sirima-Shastri pact in 1964, which resulted in the repatriation 5.25 lakh Indian-origin people back to the country and granting Sri Lankan citizenship for three lakh Indian-origin people.
However, Sri Lanka had refused citizenship for the remaining 1.5 lakh Tamil-origin people then. As soon as he was elected to the Sri Lankan Parliament on CWC ticket, Tondaman had initiated efforts and obtained citizenship for all the remaining Tamil-origin people by 1987, Vaiko said.
Tondaman had also served as a member of the cabinets under four different Sri Lankan presidents, he said. (Colombo Gazette)