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Tamils in Sri Lanka - A Comprehensive History (C.300 B.C. - 2000 A.D.)

by Murugar Gunasingam Ph.D.

It can be confidently claimed that a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils, including the history of their territories (Homeland), extending from the 1970s to modern times has not been published in the past three decades. Consequently, I believe there is an urgent need for a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils, their territories, their politics, religion, language, socio-economics, art, literature and culture to be available to the reading public...

However, it is clear that the Tamils' struggle for freedom has not been understood in its true light by those engaged in research, the majority of academics, politicians and ordinary people. This is largely the result of the absence of a comprehensive history of Sri Lanka Tamils based on historical evidence.

The existing primary sources relating to the history of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka were not sufficient to write such an historical work and the author, in order to gather incontrovertible evidence, visited various archives, libraries, state institutions and university research centres located in the countries that are closely related to the history of Sri Lankan Tamils. These include India, Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States of America. This invaluable material has been compiled for the first time in this book.

[compilation by TamilNation.org]

In English & Tamil

இலங்கையில் தமிழர் – ஒரு முழுமையான வரலாறு (கி.மு. 300 கி.பி. 2000) - கலாநிதி முருகர் குணசிங்கம்

576 pages, Hard Cover, published by MV Publications, P.O.Box 5317, Chullora, South Asian Studies Centre,Sydney NSW 2190, Australia, 2008
ISBN 978-0-646-49455-5

For purchase inquiries please contact: gunasingam@optusnet.com.au  
See also http://www.tamilhistory.net/

Murugar GunasingamDr. Murugar Gunasingam has authored three books including the critically acclaimed Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism: A Study of its Origins. Gunasingam holds a PhD in History from the University of Sydney. He took his Masters in Library and Information Science from the University of London. Currently, he is Research Coordinator of South Asian Studies Centre, Sydney. He had worked as Head of Technical Services and later as Head of Resources Management at the University of Western Sydney. He had also served on the staff of Charles Sturt University Library as Head of Serials Department as well as Coordinator for the Department of Social Sciences since 2000. Dr. Gunasingam had graduated in History from the University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka. [See also by the same author - Primary Sources for History of the Sri Lankan Tamils - World Wide Search and Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism - A Study of its Origins ]

From the Preface
From the Conclusion
Video Interview with Author Dr. M. Gunasingam...
பார்வையும் பதிவுகளும் - Book Review by M.Thanapalasingham
Anita Pratap at Book Launch in Norway
Book Release in Netherlands
Book Release in United Kingdom

Murugar Gunasingam - History of Tamils in Sri Lanka  Murugar Gunasingam - History of Tamils in Sri Lanka

From the Preface

This book presents a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils covering the entire Traditional Tamil Homeland of the north and east and north-western parts of the country. The religio-cultural, linguistic and socio-political history of the Tamils are, therefore, the principal aspects addressed in this book. A scholarly publication of this kind, has not previously been published and this hook is the first to offer a clear understanding and picture of the Tamils of Sri Lanka that caters to readers of all levels.

History has remained my passion from my school days. However the history that I learnt from 1965 on, at Kanagarayankulam and Omantai High schools gave prominence to the majority Sinhalese of the island. Neither the history of the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka nor the history of their traditional Tamil Homeland was taught in the curriculum. We are all aware that Sri Lanka is a country, that from historic times, has consisted of two nations, the Sinhala nation and the Tamil nation. However, Sri Lankan history has, in the past, been written as Sinhalese history and excluded Tamil history.

In 1977, I was fortunate to begin studies at Jaffna University and learn the history of Sri Lanka and India along with the history of the West from renowned scholars such as Professors K. Indrapala, K. Kailasapathy, K. Sivathamby, and Mr. Seelan Kathirkamar . During this period, I began to gain some understanding of the history of the Sri Lankan Tamils and their traditional Homeland. This was, despite lie lack of scholarly historical writings available on the Sri Lankan Tamils.

The only historical works available dealt with the ancient history of the Jaffna peninsula or the origins of the Sri Lankan Tamils. These writings on the Jaffna peninsula covered the period up to the Jaffna Kingdom but there were no historical works that elucidated the entire history of the Tamils territories. In addition, the Portuguese and Dutch invasions of the Tamil territories and their rule in these regions have not received thorough attention from scholars to date. Scholarly historical writings on the British colonial rule in these Tamils regions were also somewhat neglected and this situation has continued since Sri Lanka was granted Independence in 1948.

Western historians as well as Sri Lankan academics who researched the comprehensive history of Sri Lanka chose to focus the history of the majority Sinhalese people, their kingdoms and territories and pass over the history of the Sri Lankan Tamils. However, whenever necessary, they included sparse notes on the history of Tamils and their territories or Homeland in their studies.

Since the 1970s, when the Tamils' national struggle gathered momentum, many academics have begun to engage with the modern political issues of the Sri Lankan Tamils and their society, religion, language, art, culture and economics. As these studies focused on specific spheres of interest, they fell short of presenting a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils. It can be confidently claimed that a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils, including the history of their territories (Homeland), extending from the 1970s to modern times has not been published in the past three decades. Consequently, I believe there is an urgent need for a comprehensive history of the Sri Lankan Tamils, their territories, their politics, religion, language, socio-economics, art, literature and culture to be available to the reading public. This is my primary motivation in publishing this book.

The Sri Lankan Tamils, who have lived continuously from historical times in their traditional territories in the north, east and north-western regions have their own language and distinct ethnic, religious, art and cultural traditions and an uninterrupted history. They are the ancient Tamils of Sri Lanka. They exercised sovereignty in their territories with independent kingdoms and an empire which European invaders deprived them of in the sixteenth century. When the British finally departed from Sri Lanka in February 1948, they handed the governance of the country to the Sinhalese ethnic group as they were the numerical majority in the population. It is common knowledge that since Independence, the majority Sinhalese community has continually subjugated the Sri Lankan Tamil minority. They have been subjected to various oppressive measures affecting their ethnicity, language, religion, culture and economic wellbeing. This has resulted in immense suffering for the Tamils.

The Tamil political leaders who struggled to regain their freedom along democratic lines since 1948 have failed to achieve their goal. Alter three decades of unsuccessful non-violent attempts to achieve freedom, the Tamil youth was forced to opt for an armed struggle which is still on.

However, it is clear that the Tamils' struggle for freedom has not been understood in its true light by those engaged in research, the majority of academics, politicians and ordinary people. This is largely the result of the absence of a comprehensive history of Sri Lanka Tamils based on historical evidence.

The existing primary sources relating to the history of Sri Lankan Tamils in Sri Lanka were not sufficient to write such an historical work and the author, in order to gather incontrovertible evidence, visited various archives, libraries, state institutions and university research centres located in the countries that are closely related to the history of Sri Lankan Tamils. These include India, Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain and the United States of America. This invaluable material has been compiled for the first time in this book.
Although the book is written in both the Tamil and English languages in uncomplicated and straightforward language to cater to all readers, it nevertheless maintains a high scholarly standard and all aspects of Sri Lankan Tamil history are based on evidence.

I am certain that this book, which comes at a time when the Sri Lankan Tamils arc engaged in the struggle for their freedom, will clarify the basic and immediate reasons of their struggle and further illustrate the Sri Lankan Tamil identity, their right to self-determination and their liberation struggle. I am also sure, this book will be disparaged by those who have deliberately misinterpreted Tamil history for their own political benefit or survival but will nevertheless shed new light on the true history of the Tamils in Sri Lanka based on authentic primary sources of evidence. My hope is that such an understanding will pave the way for the permanent elimination of the suffering of the Tamils.

M. Gunasingam

From the Conclusion


Many renowned Sinhalese and Tamil Historians Archaeologists Anthropologists and Linguistic Scholars as well as Indian, American and British Scholars have engaged in research, on the ancient history of Sri Lanka for more than 30 years, conducting Archaeological excavations.

These excavations were carried out in various parts of Sri Lanka and their findings published. However, some excavations have been suspended while, in other cases, the findings have not been released. In particular, there are many instances where excavations in the northern regions of Sri Lanka were suspended and the findings withheld. However, unbiased and honest historians have openly published the findings of their studies on this subject.

Many facts related to the ancient history of Sri Lanka and its ancient people have been brought to light on the basis of archaeological evidence from excavations. But, various difficulties have arisen in regard to understanding the early Stone Age people, their antiquity and their race. Nevertheless, the scholars referred to above generally accept that the ancient people of Sri Lanka belonged to the Dravidian Language family and followed the Dravidian (Megalithic) culture of 'Urn Burials'. The findings of these scholars also show that there was a strong similarity between the ancient people of Sri Lanka and those of India, particularly from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Kannada and the Andhra regions in South India where Dravidian languages are spoken.

Geologists and archaeologists are of the general opinion that as the result of a natural calamity Sri Lanka broke off from the Indian landmass and became an island many thousands of years ago. Therefore the ancient people of South India and Sri Lanka were of the same ethnic stock. This has been further established by findings relating to their culture, language and religion that show that the people of these two regions were closely connected.

In short, it emerges that the ancient people of Sri Lanka belonged to the Dravidian family and spoke Tamil, one of the ancient languages of the Dravidian language family. However, Pali and Sinhalese historical records and literature claim that the ancient people of Sri Lanka belonged to the Aryan language family and spoke Sinhalese, an Aryan language and that they came from North India. To date no archaeological evidence has been found to support these theories.

Sinhalese historians based their theories that the ancient people of Sri Lanka were Sinhalese largely on historical records found in the Deepavamsa and Mahavamsa Buddhist chronicles written in the fourth and filth centuries A.D. and on ancient stone inscriptions written in the North Indian languages of Pali and Sanskrit. These historians are particularly inclined to use the Mahavamsa. written in the fifth century A.D., as a main source. The Mahavamsa begins with the historical legend of Vijaya who was deported from North India and arrived in Sri Lanka in the fifth century BC.

In addition, the Mahavamsa also speaks of the three visits of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka and the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka by the Buddhist mission sent to Sri Lanka by the Maurya Emperor Asoka in the third century BC. This mission was led by his son and Buddhist priest Mahinda. The records of the Mahavamsa along with other historical documents and writings also tell of Devanampiya Tissa, the king of the Anuradapura Kingdom, who embraced Buddhism in the same period.

These accounts have naturally led historians in general to consider that the history of Sri Lanka begins with the third century BC. However, there is no reliable historical evidence of the arrival of Vijaya and his associates in the fifth century BC or of his rule in Sri Lanka. It is possible to infer that, Mahanama, the author of the Mahavamsa, witnessed the decline and disorientation of Buddhism in India during the fifth century BC. Due to his devotion to Buddhism and desire to consolidate this religion in Sri Lanka he decided to write the Mahavamsa. It is also possible that he began his chronicle with the legend of Vijaya with the sole purpose of linking Buddhism with its relationship to North Indian languages as a means to achieve his goals.

The important fact that must be considered in this context is that Saivaism was firmly established in Sri Lanka long before the arrival of Buddhism on the island. The kings of the Anuradapura Kingdom had been Saivaites before the advent of Buddhism. Besides, the Kingdom of Anuradapura was a well developed and strong kingdom in the third century BC, a status that would have required centuries to attain. Would it have been possible for Vijaya who arrived in Sri Lanka only in the fifth century BC to start from scratch and build up such a full-fledged kingdom in Anuradapura? It is apparent that the Kingdom of Anuradapura originated and gradually developed into a strong kingdom through many centuries and that the people who established the kingdom were Tamils of the Dravidian family. Tamil culture and Saiva religion were practiced in ancient Sri Lanka as Tamils were the ancient people of Sri Lanka, a fact established by the archaeological evidence that has come to light.

The culture, language, and religion of an ethnic people are the most significant factors determining their unique identity. Archaeological evidence shows that the ancient Dravidian people of ancient Sri Lanka, influenced by the arrival of Buddhism and the North Indian languages associated with it, gradually embraced Buddhism, its cultural traditions and the languages related to it.

For instance, archaeological findings prove that Buddhism enjoyed an influential status as the religion of the people in the traditional Tamil regions in the north, east and northwest parts of Sri Lanka, during the first two centuries BC. Would it be right to call these people Sinhalese on the basis that Buddhism was their religion in the early historical period? Archaeological studies clearly reveal that Dravidian people were living in the Puttalam and Negombo areas in the northwest region of Sri Lanka from ancient times.

However, the majority of these people, due to socio-economic activities and transitions over the past 150 years, have become Sinhalese and now speak the Sinhalese language. Besides, the majority of Saivites in the Jaffna peninsula were converted to Catholicism during the foreign rule of the Portuguese invaders. Another interesting instance in this context is the fact that the descendents of two significant Chetty families who migrated to Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu five generations ago became fervent Buddhist Sinhala nationalists, Prime Ministers and Presidents in Sri Lanka.

It can be surmised from these matters that this same process of assimilation was a common phenomenon experienced throughout ancient Sri Lanka. The history of Sri Lanka, from the third century A.D. to the ninth century A.D., is permeated with the influence of Buddhism and Buddhist culture. This includes from early historical times, the intrusion of Pali and Sanskrit languages and their spread among the ancient Tamils of Sri Lanka and their Dravidian culture, as well as the origin of the Sinhalese language from Sanskrit, Pali and Tamil languages. The younger generation is left with the task of engaging with history and scientific methods to subject this historical period to deep and unbiased studies and write its history with intellectual integrity. When taking up this task, they should strive to find a fitting solution to the ethnic issue that has become an infested sore in Sri Lanka.

Two significant events took place in Sri Lanka following the tenth century A.D. in the wake of the Cola domination of Sri Lanka. The first is that the people who identified themselves as Sinhalese shifted their seats of rule from the ancient kingdoms of Anuradapura and Polanaruwa towards South Sri Lanka. The second was the Tamils moved their ruling structures from these same regions to the north and east of the island.

Consequently, the ancient kingdoms of Anuradapura and Polanaruwa, abandoned by both the Sinhalese and the Tamils, were engulfed by the jungle that temporarily separated the two ethnic groups for the next four or five centuries. As a result, the Sinhalese developed into a separate ethnic people with their distinct Buddhist religion and culture and Sinhalese language while the Tamils, in their traditional regions in the north, east and northwest of Sri Lanka began to establish their kingdoms under the newly risen Jaffna Kingdom, maintaining their distinct Tamil language, culture and Saiva religion.

This situation did not last long. The Sinhalese and Tamil kingdoms declined and eventually succumbed to the Portuguese invaders. The Kingdom of Kandy, however, retained its sovereignty and resisted capture by the Portuguese. The Tamils lost their kingdom forever as a result of Portuguese invasion, and the foreign Catholic religion was forcibly thrust on them. Many were obliged to relinquish their Saiva religion and follow Catholicism and its culture. Above all, they were impoverished by wholesale Portuguese exploitation of their economic resources. This situation allowed the Portuguese to amass great wealth.

 The Tamils lost their sovereignty, religion, economic infrastructure and wealth and were reduced to slaves in their own land. It is a bitter historical truth that it was not only the Portuguese who were responsible for this state of affairs but also the competitiveness, jealousy, lack of co-operation and patriotism among the Tamils as well as the evil dowry system and social disparities that existed among them.

This same situation has continued from the time the Tamils and Tamil regions became enslaved to the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. It is unlikely this situation can be changed until the Tamil politicians and officials truly realise the gravity of the situation and apply themselves sincerely to solving these urgent problems. These are the people who have to decide whether or not the Tamils are to continue living as slaves and refugees.

The Dutch, who succeeded the Portuguese, dominated Sri Lanka for 150 years and also amassed wealth by unscrupulous means. They exploited the Tamils and their regions just as the Portuguese did. The Portuguese could be said to have sucked the blood of the Tamils but the Dutch did not stop there but consumed their flesh also. This further reduced the Tamils to utter poverty. The Dutch spread Protestantism, their new brand of Christianity among the forcibly converted Tamil Catholics in the Jaffna peninsula. Dutch documents provide sufficient proof that the Tamils, already afflicted by Portuguese occupation and atrocities, were further severely affected by intense Dutch exploitation of their economic resources along with their religious activities to promote Protestantism among them.

The forced indoctrination of their respective religions and the introduction of western culture to the Tamils in the Jaffna peninsula by the foreign invaders from Portugal and the Netherlands were their sole contributions to the Tamils and their regions, the impact of which is evident even in the present day. However, the Christian missionaries, both Portuguese and Dutch, established schools in the peninsula to impart religious education in addition to a range of basic subjects. Tamil society, for the first time, was exposed to an organised system of education along western principles. It cannot be denied that this experience prepared them for the modern educational methods of the British colonial rule and enabled them to adapt to the judicial, administrative and economic infrastructure of the British.

The British colonial rule that began in the 1796 in Sri Lanka ushered in changes and new enterprises in the island generally and the Tamils and their regions in particular. The British, like their two predecessors, showed a keen interest in propagating Protestantism with the help of their missionaries who used education to spread their religion. As a result, the Tamils gave English education and Tamil education a primary place in their lives.

The prevailing caste discrimination, socio-economic disparities, lack of land and the oppressive dowry system in the Tamil regions, particularly in the Jaffna peninsula, impelled the Tamils to seek education. Parents invested in their children's education in the hope and expectation that their success in examinations would open up employment opportunities for them in the public and private sector in Sri Lanka as well as in foreign countries such as India and Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore).

True to their expectations, educated Tamils were able to acquire government and private employment in Sri Lanka, India and Malaya and earn a permanent income. This advancement in turn brought social development and progress in various spheres and Tamil society was gradually transformed into an educated society. However, this opportunity was not widely available in the undeveloped Tamil regions.

The dedicated interest shown by the British in the field of education resulted in the establishment of hundreds of primary and secondary schools in the Jaffna peninsula with various missionaries functioning as their driving force. The Tamils also, just as the missionaries established Christian English schools, opened up Saiva English schools. Saivaism and the Tamil language experienced a renaissance while Saiva temples and halls were built in great numbers due to the religious tolerance of the British rulers. This progress in education contributed immensely to various positive developments in the fields of religion, arts, culture, language, literature, socio-economics and politics.

The establishment of the infrastructure of finance, justice and administration and the efficient functioning of these structures in the early British rule helped develop the country economically as well as consolidate its administration and law and order. The population began to increase in this peaceful and thriving atmosphere. Roads and bridges were built and health services improved remarkably. This progress in turn paved the way for the Tamils in the north and east to establish contacts and develop mutual understanding with the Sinhalese in the south.

The Tamils, particularly the English-educated Tamils, already disturbed by conversion to Christianity by the missionaries and the spread of western culture among them, rose in protest and reacted against steps taken by the British government. These protest activities relating to culture and economics in turn became factors that kindled the consciousness of the Tamils. The spirit of protest manifested itself in the spheres of society_ religion, culture and language and resulted in the politically motivated rise of Tamil nationalism. The British constitutional reforms and political activities connected to them were the fundamental reasons for the rise and growth of Tamil nationalism.

The Colebrook constitutional reforms introduced in 1833, brought the north and east regions of Sri Lanka, hitherto administered as a separate unit. under a single centralised administrative system based in Colombo. This disoriented the longstanding territorial integration of the Tamils and threatened their national identity.

The 1921-24 Manning constitutional reforms among others that followed were the first to create a permanent divide between the Tamils and Sinhalese ethnic communities. The Donoughmore constitutional reforms introduced in 1931 added their share to compound the situation by implementing universal franchise, abolishing the system of territorial representation and replacing it with communal representation. This resulted in more representatives from the Sinhalese community securing seats in the State Assembly and caused great antipathy and rage among the Tamils and their political leaders. The Soulbury constitutional reforms introduced in 1947 were also partial to the Sinhalese majority representatives. They were drawn up in keeping with the draft proposals submitted by their Board of Ministers and passed in the House of Representatives with the majority of Sinhalese representatives voting in favour. The British ruling powers forcibly implemented this political constitution modeled on the Westminster Parliamentary system as practised in Britain on a country consisting of two Nations, the majority Sinhalese nation and a minority Tamil nation.

In the 1947 general elections held under the newly introduced constitution. the Sinhalese political parties secured the majority representation in Parliament and thereby became the rulers of the country. When the British finally granted independence to Sri Lanka they handed over the government to the Sinhalese majority community leaving the Tamils with a refugee status. The fundamental cause for the loss of thousands of Tamil lives and the destruction of their property in the 60 years following independence was the British government's violation of the trust placed in them by the Tamils. Sinhalese political leaders, by compiling and submitting erroneous statistics to the British rulers, were able to secure sole sovereignty over the whole country, their numerical majority being the only claim.

The Tamil political leaders, due to their dearth of political foresight and propelled by self-promoting motives sought political refuge with the majority Sinhalese political leaders. Safeguards in the form of special Acts in the Soulbury constitution aiming to protect the political rights of the minorities were blatantly abandoned by the Sinhalese majority government within a few months of Sri Lanka gaining independence in 1948.

From 1948 onwards, the Indian Tamils were stripped of their citizenship and their right to vote. Pre-planned Sinhalese colonisation in the traditional Tamil territories was vigorously and systematically implemented. These activities of the government most severely affected Tamil representation in the House of Representatives and the traditional territories of the Tamils.

The `Sinhala Only' Act implemented in 1956 which made Sinhalese the official and national language of the State and granted Buddhism the status of State Religion posed serious threats to the national status and identity of the Tamils in relation to their language and religion. Employment opportunities in considerable numbers were denied to Tamils by the partial activities of the government. Tamil students were denied opportunities in higher studies by the introduction of biased schemes such as 'Standardisation' and the 'Quota System' that were implemented to select candidates for universities.

All fundamental democratic rights such as the freedom to congregate and freedom of expression were largely denied to Tamils. Whenever the Tamil political leaders engaged in passive non-violent protest demonstrations demanding their political rights, the armed forces were used to crush them by attacking demonstrators, forced dispersal of their gatherings and the arrest of Tamil political leaders.

The various pacts the Tamil political leaders entered into with the Sinhalese political leaders following negotiations were all eventually abrogated by the Sinhalese signatories. The Sinhalese regimes, exploiting their majority strength and the power in ruling the country they thereby achieved, used its three armed forces designed to protect the government, to effectively crush the Tamils, their political leaders and their just struggles for their lost rights, in several ways. Above all, they unleashed continuous pogroms on the Tamils from 1958, killing thousands of Tamils, subjecting Tamil women to sexual violence, setting fire to their houses and property, reducing them to the status of refugees in their own country.

The Tamil political leaders, on realising that the Sri Lanka Sinhalese majority regime would never recognise the Tamil right of self-determination, in 1976 united and arrived at a firm decision that establishing Tamil Eelam was the only way open to the Tamils. This seems to be a belated decision. They contested in the 1977 general election on a mandate for Tamil Eelam. The Tamils responded with overwhelming support of the Tamil political leaders in their demand for Tamil Eelam. Following the demise in 1977 of S. J. V. Chelvanayagam who fought tirelessly for more than 30 years, the Tamil political leaders, led by Amirthalingam, opted to pursue moderate political activities. These leaders who had been elected to establish Tamil Eelam, following the 1977 election victory, tried to solve the Tamil political issue by negotiating with the government.

The young Tamil men and women who had already been pushed to the brink of utter frustration due to the denial of educational and employment opportunities, rose in protest against the activities of the Tamil political leaders who believed they could continue their politics and pacify the Tamil youth. Finally, the Tamils again whole heartedly mandated the Tamil political leaders to establish Tamil [clam in the general election that followed. The government which schemed to crush the demand for Tamil Eelam implemented an Act which called for the loyalty of the members of the Parliament to the national integrity of Sri Lanka as a unitary state. The Tamil leaders found themselves in a precarious situation caught between the intensified demand of the Tamil young men and women and this Act. Unable to go against the mandate they were elected to establish Tamil Eelam, the Tamil political leaders had to forgo their membership in Parliament.

The Tamils, already denied all their democratic rights, were now deprived of their right to representation in the Parliament. Meanwhile, the state terrorism unleashed against the Tamils in 1983 killed thousands of Tamils of all ages specially the youth . Tamil women were sexually assaulted in public. Tamils' property worth millions of rupees were looted and set ablaze. Tamils in their thousands went to Tamil Nadu as refugees while thousands sought refuge in America, Australia and European countries. Those who were not so fortunate were fled to the north and east. Tamil youth specially were arrested and tortured.

These events can only lead to one conclusion. It is that the Tamils and the Sinhalese are two different and separate nations that are unable to live together. These events were a message and open declaration by the Sinhalese nation to the Tamil nation as also the international community that the Tamils should go to the north and east and live there.

The Tamil young men and women took up arms when they realised that this was the language of the Sinhalese majority government and it was the only language that it could understand. The Nanthi (cow) symbol of peace was the emblem of the national flag of the Jaffna Kingdom of the Tamils. The Portuguese as foreign invaders robbed the Tamils of their kingdom and brought the Nanthi flag down.

The British, who were the last foreign rulers of Sri Lanka should have handed Tamils the right to rule their territory when they finally left Sri Lanka. It is tragic that they did not do so. Now, the national flag of the Tamil Nation, with its Tiger emblem of an animal that is totally different to the passive Nanthi, flies in the Tamil nation. It is the Sinhalese government that should bear the responsibility for this. The Sinhalese majority government and the Sinhalese political leaders should consider the Tamils' demand for the right to self-determination with sincerity, humanity and political foresight and act at the earliest to recognise it. Failure to do so will inevitably lead both comminutes to face more blood shed and devastation.

John Dowd, the emeritus Australian judge and the former president of the International Commission of Jurors said the following on the occasion of the launch of the book, The International Dimension in Sri Lanka's Ethnic Conflict:

The international community should recognize that Sri Lanka needs two states and that structures should be created to facilitate coexistence of the two states.

This quotation is an appropriate conclusion to this study.

 

Video Interview with Author Dr. M. Gunasingam...


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

பார்வையும் பதிவுகளும் - Review by M.Thanapalasingham

வரலாறு என&ாட்டும், ஏனெனில் அதை எழுத நான் முனைகின்றேன் என்றார் வின்ஸ்ரன் சேர்ச்சில்.

" History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it " Winston Churchill

ஆங்கிலம் பேசும் வெள்ளை நிறத்தவர்களின் வரலாற்றையே ஆங்கிலேயரின் வரலாறாகக் கண்ட சேர்ச்சிலை இரண்டாம் உலக மகா யுத்தத்தின் காவிய நாயகனாக ஆங்கிலேயர் கொண்டாடுவர்.

வென்றவர்களே வரலாற்றை எழுதுகின்றனர் எனக் கூறுவாரும் உளர். அதை வரலாற்று ஆசிரியர்கள் ஏற்கின்றனரோ என்பது மட்டுமல்ல கேள்வி. வரலாற்றை எவ்வாறு வாசிக்கின்றோம் என்பதும்தான்.  

சேர்ச்சிலின் நாட்டவரான ஜோர்ஸ் ஓர்வெல் என்பார் வரலாற்றைப் பற்றி விளக்கம் அளிக்கும்போது " யார் கடந்தகாலத்தை தம்வசப்படுத்தி வைத்திருக்கின்றார்களோ அவர்களே எதிர்காலத்தையும் தமதாக்குவர். யார் நிகழ் காலத்தை வசப்படுத்தியுள்ளனரோ அவரே கடந்தகாலத்தையும் தமதாக்குவர் " எனக் கூறியுள்ளார்.  

" Who controls the past controls the future, who controls the present controls the past"  - George Orwell. 

சிங்கள இனத்திற்கு இருண்டும் பொருந்தும் எனலாம். மகாவம்ச மனவுலகில் சஞ்சாரம் செய்யும் சிங்கள வரலாறே இன்றைய பெரும் அவலங்களுக்கு வித்திட்டுள்ளது . கி.பி 5 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டில் வாழ்ந்த மகாநாம தேரரால் எழுதப்பட்டதெனக் கூறப்படும் மகாவம்சம் சொல்பவற்றையே தமது வரலாறாக சிங்கள மக்கள் கருதி வருவது மட்டுமல்ல அதையே தம் இருப்பிற்கான ஆதாரமாகவும் ஏற்று செயல்படுகின்றனர்.

இத்தனைக்கும் அந்தத் தேரர் மீது நாம் பிழைகாணமுடியாது. அவர் மகாவம்சத்தை ஒரு நாட்டின் வரலாறாக ஒரு இனத்தின் வரலாறாக எழுதவில்லை. அவர் காலத்தில் செல்வாக்குப் பெற்றிருந்த அனுராதபுர இராசதானியில் அமைந்திருந்த மகாவிகாரையின் வரலாற்றை,  அந்த விகாரைக்கு ஆதரவு அளித்த மன்னர்களை ,புத்த சமயத்தின் மகிமைகளை அவர் எழுதினார். அதில் பல புராணச் சம்பவங்களும்,  புனைவுரைகளும்,  அசாதாரண நிகழ்வுகளும் இடம் பெற்றுள்ளது என்பர் வரலாற்று ஆசிரியர் பலர். இருந்தபோதும் ஒரு மதத்தின் வரலாற்றை ஒரு இனத்தின் வரலாறாக ஒரு நாட்டின் வரலாறாக சிங்கள இனம் வரித்துக் கொண்டதன் விளைவுகளை தமிழ் இனம் இன்று அனுபவித்துக் கொண்டிருக்கின்றது.  

மறு புறத்தில் இலங்கையில் வாழும் தமிழர்களின் வரலாற்றை எழுதிவைக்க அவர்களுக்கு ஒரு மகாநாமர் இருக்கவில்லை. அதனால் அவர்களுக்கு வரலாறு இல்லையா? இருப்பவையும் துண்டு துண்டாய் இருக்கின்றன. இந்தச் சூழலில் வெளிவந்துள்ள படைப்பே கலாநிதி முருகர் குணசிங்கத்தின் " இலங்கையில் தமிழர் " என்னும் வரலாற்று நூலாகும்.  

வரலாற்றுக் காலம் என்னும் பதத்தில் வரலாற்றுக்கு முற்பட்டகாலம் ,  வரலாற்றிற்குப் பிற்பட்ட காலம் என்னும் பதங்கள் தொக்கு நிற்கின்றன. எழுதப்பட்டதே வரலாறு என்னும்போது எழுத்தைக் கண்டு பிடிப்பதற்கு முன்னரான வரலாற்றை வரலாற்றிற்கு முற்பட்டகாலம் என்பர். இந்த வகையில் இலங்கையில் தமிழர் வரலாற்றை கி.மு 300 இல் ஆரம்பிக்கும் முருகர் குணசிங்கம்  அதற்கும் முன்னரே தமிழர் அங்கு வாழ்ந்தமையையும் கிடைத்துள்ள ஆதாரங்களுடன் விளக்கி, இரும்பைப் பயன்படுத்திய காலத்தில் அரசிற்கு உரிய வளர்ச்சியுடன் கி.மு 300 இல்  தமிழர் விளங்கினர் எனக் கூறிச் செல்லும் ஆசிரியர் அதன் பின் சோழர் ஆதிக்கத்தின் விளைவாக இலங்கையின் ஆட்சி மையம் அனுராதபுரம், பொலநறுவை என்பவற்றில் இருந்து தெற்கு நோக்கியும் வடக்கு நோக்கியம் நகரவே சிங்கள தமிழ் என இரு அரச உருவாக்கங்கள் ஏற்பட்டதை விளக்குகின்றார்.

இதில் கவனிக்கப்பட வேண்டியது என்னவெனில் தமிழ்மக்கள் வடக்கு, கிழக்கு மற்றும் வடமேற்கில் தொடர்ச்சியாக வாழ்ந்து வந்த வரலாறாகும். ஆசிரியர் இதனை தகுந்த ஆதாரங்களுடன் அழுத்திக் கூறத் தவறவில்லை. இத்தோடு அவர்கள் அனுராதபுரியை ஆண்டமை, அங்கு வாழ்ந்தமை யாவும் ஆதாரங்களுடன் நிறுவப்பட்டு 10 ஆம் 11 ஆம் நூற்றாண்டுகளில் இடம் பெற்ற சோழப்படை எடுப்புக்கள், அவர்கள் ஆட்சி, அதன்பின் அவர்கள் வீழ்ச்சி,  என்பவற்றை அடுத்து,  சிங்கள, தமிழ் இன உருவாக்கங்கள் வேறு வேறு திசைகளில் நகர்ந்தன எனக் குறிப்பிடுகின்றார்.  இதன் உடன் நிகழ்வாக வலுப்பெற்ற யாழ்ப்பான இராச்சியத்தின் தோற்றம் , அதன் எழுச்சி என்பவை வரலாற்று ஞானம் அற்றோரும் வாசிக்கத்தக்க வகையில் பதியப்பட்டுள்ளது.  

ஆயின் இந்த நூலின் சிறப்பான அம்சங்கள் என்னவெனில் ஆசிரியரினால்  நேராக முதன்முதலில் பார்வைக்குள்ளாக்கப்பட்ட போர்த்துக்கேய ,ஒல்லாந்தர் ஆட்சிக்காலத்து ஆவணங்களாகும்.  இந்த மூலாதாரங்களை ஆய்வுக்கு உட்படுத்தியதன் மூலம் அவர்கள் காலத்தில் தமிழர் வரலாறு வெறும் அரசியல் , யுத்தங்கள் சார்ந்ததோடு நில்லாமல் அக்காலத்தில் நிலவிய சமூக ,பொருளாதார ,கல்வி, சமய நிலைகள் யாவும் இவரால் வெளிக்கொணரப்பட்டுள்ளது.

பிற்காலத்தில் ஆங்கியேர் எவ்வாறு தமிழர் தாயகத்தின் இறைமையை கரைப்பதற்கான கால்கோளை இட்டனரோ அதேபோல் தமிழரின் மத, கலாசார அழிவினை போர்த்கதுக்கேயர் எவ்வாறு நடத்தி முடித்தனர் என்பதை ஆசிரியர் ஆதாரங்களோடு முன்வைக்கும்போது படிப்பவர் மனதில் ஒரு விறைப்பு ஏற்படுகின்றது. சென்ற நூற்றாண்டின் பிற்பகுதியில் இரும்பு பெண்  (Iron Lady ) என அழைக்கப்பட்ட மாக்கிறட் தட்சர் பிரித்தானியாவில் ஆள்வரி (poll tax ) என்னும் கொடுமையான வரியை அவர்கள் ஏழைகளோ பணக்காரரோ எனப் பாராமல் அறிமுகம் செய்ய முன்வந்தபோது எழுந்த எதிர்ப்பு அலையில் அவர் ஆட்சியில் இருந்து தூக்கி வீசப்பட்டதை நாம் எம் கண்முண்ணால் கண்டோம். ஆனால் எமக்குத் தெரியாதது அதே வரியை எம்மக்கள் மீது ஒல்லாந்தர் திணித்தமையாகும். இவை போன்ற செய்திகள் விபரமாக ஆதாரங்களுடன் இந்நூலில் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது.  

பிரித்தானியரின் ஆட்சி ,அவர்களின் ஆங்கிலக்கல்வி,  அவற்றால் ஏற்பட்ட தமிழரின் சமயம்,பண்பாடு,மொழி சம்பந்தமான விழிப்புணர்ச்சிகள்,  இதில் நாவலர், சி.வை. தாமோதரம்பிள்ளை, விபுலானந்தர் ஆகியோர் வகித்த பாத்திரங்கள்  சிங்களத் தலைமைகளில் நம்பிக்கை இழந்த அருணாசலத்தின் " தமிழகம் " கோரிக்கை  யாவும் புதிய பகைப்புலத்தில் வைத்து காட்டப்படும்போது புதிய வெளிச்சம் பெறுகிறது. பழந்தமிழ் ஓலைச்சுவடிகளைத் தேடிஎடுத்து அவற்றைப் பதிப்பிப்பதில் சி.வை.தாமோதரம்பிள்ளை ஆற்றிய பங்கு தமிழ் தாத்தா என அழைக்கப்படும் உ. வே. சாமிநாதஐயருக்கு சற்றும் குறைந்ததல்ல. இதில் தாமோதரனார் கூறிய அந்த புகழ் பெற்ற வாக்கியங்களை ஆசிரியர் பதிவு செய்துள்ளார். எம்மில் பலர் அதை ஏலவே அறிந்திருந்தபோதும் அதை அழுத்திக் கூறுவதில் தவறு இல்லை. 

" ஏடு எடுக்கும்போது ஓரம் சொரிகின்றது. கட்டு அவிழ்க்கும்போது இதழ் முறிகின்றது. ஒற்றை புரட்டும்போது துண்டுதுண்டாய்ப் பறக்கின்றது. இனி எழுத்துக்களோவென்றால் வாலும் தலையுமின்றி நாலுபுறமும் பாணக் கலப்பை மறுத்து மறுத்து உழுது கிடக்கிறது "  

" கனவான்களே இந்த ஏட்டுப் பிரதிகள் அழிந்து போகின்றனவே என்ற கவலை உங்களுக்கு இல்லையா? தமிழ் உங்கள் அன்னை என்பதை நீங்கள் உணரவில்லையா? உங்கள் அன்னைக்கு உதவும் வகையில் நீங்கள் எதையும் செய்கின்றீர்கள் இல்லை. தேசாபிமானம், மதாபிமானம், மொழியபிமானம் என்பன உங்களுக்கு இல்லையென்பதில் பெருமை கொள்கின்றீர்களா? தயவுசெய்து இவ் விஷயத்தையிட்டு சுஹரத்தையுடன் சிந்தியுங்கள். "  

 தமிழ்த்தேசியத்திற்கு இவர்கள் ஆற்றிய பணிகளை எடுத்துக்கூற இதனைவிட வார்த்தைகள் வேண்டுமா? 

வரலாற்றில் இடம் பெற்ற நிகழ்வுகளில் இருந்து நாம் எவற்றை கற்கவேண்டும் எந்தப் பிழைகளை தவிற்கவேண்டும் என ஆசிரியர் பல இடங்களில் கூறும்போது அது அவரின் ஆதங்கமா ? இன்றைய காலகட்டத்தின் அறைகூவலா ? வாசகர்களை நின்று ஒரு முறை சிந்திக்க வைப்பதற்கா? வாசகரிடமே  விட்டு விடுகிறார். 

இலங்கை சுதந்திரம் அடைந்தபின்னான நிகழ்வுகள் ,தமிழ்தேசியத்தின் பரிணாம வளர்ச்சிகள், போராட்டங்கள் யாவும் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டவற்றை எடுத்துரைப்பின் விரியும் என அஞ்சுகின்றேன். எனினும் இந்நூலின் ஆசிரியருக்கும் தமிழத்தலைவர்களில் ஒருவரான உடுப்பிட்டி மு.சிவசிதம்பரம் அவர்களுக்கும் இடையே சென்னையில் 2000 ஆம் ஆண்டு சித்திரை மாதம் 20 ஆம் திகதி இடம் பெற்ற சந்திப்பினைப் பற்றி ஆசிரியர்  குறிப்பிடுவதை இந்நூலினை வாசிக்கத் தவறுவோரின் கவனத்திற்காகக் குறிப்பிட விரும்புகின்றேன். இவரது சந்திப்பின்போது சென்னைப் பல்கலைக்கழக தென்னாசியத் துறைத் தலைவரான பேராசிரியர் சூரியநாராயணனும் கூட இருந்தாராம்.  

இச்சந்திப்பில் நூலாசிரியர் திரு மு.சிவசிதம்பரத்திடம் கேட்ட கேள்விகள் : 

(1)        " நீங்கள் நீண்ட காலம் தமிழர் அரசியலில் ஈடுபட்டவர், உங்களுக்கு நிறைய அனுபவம் உண்டு. அண்மையில் நீங்கள் தமிழீழ விடுதலைப்புலிகளின் நடவடிக்கையால் பாதிக்கப்பட்டு, நாட்டைவிட்டு வெளியேறி, இந்தியாவில் குறைந்த வசதிகளுடன் வசிக்கின்றீர்கள். எனவே தங்களுக்கு விடுதலைப் புலிகள் இயக்கத்தின் மீதும் குறிப்பாக அதன் தலைவர் பிரபாகரன் மீதும் ஆத்திரமும் வெறுப்பும் ஏற்பட்டிருக்கும் அல்லவா ? " 

(2)        "தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகளின் அரசியல் இலட்சியம் வெற்றிபெறும் என நீங்கள் எண்ணகின்றீர்களா ?"  

என்பனவாகும்.  

இதற்கு திரு மு.சிவசிதம்பரம் எப்படி பதில் அளித்தார். ஆசிரியரின் வார்த்தைகளில் கேட்போமே. 

" சிவசிதம்பரம் அவர்கள் சற்று அமைதியாக இருந்துவிட்டு கண்கள் நீரில் குளமான நிலையில் மிக அமைதியாக, 

" தமிழ் மக்களுக்கு இப்பதான் ஒரு நல்ல தலைமைத்துவம் கிடைத்திருக்கின்றது. அது யாரிடமுமே எக்காரணம் கொண்டும் விலை போகாத தலைமைத்துவம்.... "

" அவர் மேலும் சற்று அமைதியாக இருந்துவிட்டு, சற்றுக் குரலை உயர்த்தி,

" நான் இந்த உலகில் யாருக்கும் இதுவரை தலைதாழ்த்தவில்லை....But I' am prepared to take my hat to Pirabakaran " 

என்று சொல்லி முடித்துவிட்டு மீண்டும் அமைதியானார்.  

இதனை வெளியிட அனுமதிதருவீர்களா என நூலாசிரியர் கேட்டபோது 

 " இச் செய்தியை நீங்கள் தமிழ் மக்களுக்கு மட்டுமல்ல உலகத்துக்கே சொல்லுங்கள் " என சற்று உரத்த குரலில் கூறினாராம் எனப் பதிவு செய்கின்றார். 

இது போன்ற பழைய புதிய சம்பவங்கள் நிறைந்த ஈழத்தமிழரின் கதையை ,வரலாற்றை தகுந்த ஆவணங்களுடன்  முதன் முதலாக ஒரே நூலில் பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளமை இந்நூலின் தனித்துவம்.  

இது கடுமையான உழைப்பின் வெளிப்பாடே என்று சொல்லலாம். ஆனால் இதற்காக இவர் உழைத்தவிதத்தைப் பார்த்தவர்கள் இது ஒரு தவத்தின் விளைவு என்றே கூறுவர். இடையறாத முயற்சியே தவம் என்றால் இதனைக் கடும் உழைப்பின் வெளிப்பாடு என்றாலும் சரிதான். 

 மகாவம்ச மன உலகில் இருந்து சிங்களம் தானாக விடுபடப்போவதில்லை. அந்த மன உலகில் இருந்து அவர்களுக்கும் நாங்களே விடுதலை கொடுக்கவேண்டும். அந்த வகையில்  இறைமை மீட்டெடுப்பு போராட்டம் கூர்மை பெற்றிருக்கும் காலத்தில் வெளிவந்த இந்நூல் வரலாற்றின் ஒரு தவிர்க்க முடியாத நிகழ்வாகும். இதற்காகத் தமிழர் வரலாறு நண்பர் முருகர் குணசிங்கத்தை நன்றியுடன் பார்க்கும் எனத் துணியலாம்.

Anita Pratap at Book Launch "Tamils in Sri Lanka - by Murugar Gunasingam Ph.D. in Oslo, Norway, 14 September 2008

Dr. Murugar Gunasingam (center) at book launch 14 September 2008 Oslo Norway

கலாநிதி முருகர் குணசிங்கம் எழுதிய 'இலங்கையில் தமிழர் ஒரு முழுமையான வரலாறு" நூல் அறிமுகமும் வெளியீடும் நோர்வே தலைநகர் ஒஸ்லோவில் கடந்த ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமை (14.09.08) நடைபெற்றது.

தமிழர் ஒருங்கிணைப்புக் குழுவின் ஏற்பாட்டில், அன்னை பூபதி தமிழ்க் கலைக்கூட மண்டபத்தில் நடைபெற்ற இந்நூல் வெளியீட்டு விழாவில் இருநூறுக்கும் அதிகமான மக்கள் கலந்துகொண்டனர்.

மங்கள விளக்கேற்றல், அகவணக்கத்துடன் தொடங்கிய நிகழ்வுக்கு ஊடகவியலாளர் ஜெயசிறி தலைமை தாங்கினார்.

நிகழ்வில் பிரபல ஊடகவியலாளர் அனிதா பிரதாப் சிறப்புரை ஆற்றினார்.

அவர் தனதுரையில், தமிழ் மக்களின் இன்றைய நிலைமையையிட்டு ஆழ்ந்த கவலை கொள்வதாகத் தெரிவித்த அவர், கடந்த 20 ஆண்டுகளாக தமிழ் மக்கள் எனது இதயத்திற்கு நெருக்கமானவர்களாக உள்ளனர் எனக் குறிப்பிட்டார்.

1984 ஆம் ஆண்டு இந்தியாவின் 'சண்டே" வார இதழுக்காக தமிழீழத் தேசியத் தலைவரை நேர்காணல் எடுத்த தனது அனுபவத்தைப் பகிர்ந்து கொண்டார்.

முருகர் குணசிங்கம் எழுதியுள்ள இந்நூல் இன்றைய காலகட்டத்தில் மிக இன்றியமையாத காலத்தேவை என்று தெரிவித்த அவர், வரலாற்று அறிவு என்பது அனைவருக்கும் மிகமிக அவசியமானது என சுட்டிக்காட்டினார்.

கடந்த காலத்தை அறிந்திருக்காத வரை ஒருவனால் நிகழ்காலத்தை புரிந்து கொள்ள முடியாது. நிகழ்காலத்தை புரிந்து கொள்ள முடியாதவனால் எதிர்காலத்தை உரியமுறையில் திட்டமிட முடியாது. எனவே வரலாற்று அறிவு இன்றியமையாத தேவைக்குரியது என்று அவர் மேலும் தெரிவித்தார்.

பிரான்சிலிருந்து வருகை தந்த எழுத்தாளரும் கவிஞருமான கி.பி.அரவிந்தன் நூல் பற்றிய மதிப்பீட்டுரையை நிகழ்த்தினார். ரூபன் சிவராஜா வெளியீட்டுரை நிகழ்த்தினார். நூலாசிரியர் முருகர் குணசிங்கத்தின் நீண்ட சிறப்புரையும் இடம்பெற்றது.

நூலாசிரியரின் சிறப்புரையை அடுத்து நூல் வெளியீடு நடைபெற்றது.

முதற்பிரதியை நூலாசிரியர் முருகர் குணசிங்கம் வெளியிட்டு வைக்க, அருட்தந்தை இன்பநாதன் பெற்றுக்கொண்டார்.

அடுத்து சிறப்புப் பிரதிகள் வெளியிடப்பட்டதைத் தொடர்ந்து, சபையோர் நூல்களைப் பெற்றதோடு நிகழ்வு நிறைவடைந்தது.  (Courtesy: Tamilnaatham)  also in Real Audio

Anita Pratap at Book Launch....

“I think Tamil Eelam does exist already. It exists in the hearts and minds of every single Tamil expatriate. It is a reality.  Tamil identity is strong. Tamil nationhood is strong. No one can take that away from you”.

But the question is what it is you can give back to this identity. Not everyone can be an LTTE member and sacrifice his life. In lots of countries it is proscribed and you can’t do that. It is even not necessary. What you as a citizen of Norway or other country can do, what you can give back to the Tamil identity, to the Tamil nation?

It is your excellence. Whatever you do, whatever field, branch you are in, it is that quality of excellence in that field. It is to bring professionalism. It is to bring scholarship as this book has done. That is your greatest contribution. As for Jews for instance who have extraordinarily accomplished in different fields wherever in the countries they were – it is arts, science, music, medicine whatever it is who were the one who were excel in that.

The tragedy of Tamils in Sri Lanka has been that since 1983 large number of Tamils had to leave Sri Lanka, because it is unsafe to be a Tamil in Sri Lanka. They had to leave their country. So, there is today a missing generation, a last generation, my generation – they were all in their twenties when they left Sri Lanka and now in their fifties and sixties. Then it was a matter of survival. They were running. It was a question of saving their lives, saving their families.

But today their children are growing up. They are in open, democratic countries – in Norway, in UK, in USA, in Canada, in Australia, in other parts of Europe. These children are leading a much more secure life than their parents or grand parents. They have enrolled in good universities. They can bring the quality of excellence. The time has come for this generation to rise and show what they are capable of. The history has shown what the Tamils are capable of.”

[see also
Anita Pratap - LTTE Anita Pratap Interview with Puthinam, 15 July 2008
Former CNN South Asian Bureau Chief Anita Pratap on Velupillai Pirabakaran at University of California, 17 November 2003 and
Velupillai Pirabakaran Interview with Anita Pratap, Sunday Magazine, India 11-17 March 1984]

Book Release in United Kingdom