Buddhist clergy's role

Sir, - It is a matter of common knowledge that the genesis of the present ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka goes back to the days of Senanayake and Bandaranaike regimes, when they succumbed to the pressures of the Buddhist clergy. At every stage in the tragic evolution of the Sinhala-Tamil relations, the role of the clergy has always been a negative factor.

The clergy never reconciled to the ideal of peaceful co-existence with the Hindu neighbours within the Sri Lankan national identity. They always considered India a threat to their hegemony and Buddhist clerical influence over the State. It is for this reason that they never permitted Sinhala Prime Ministers to implement any treaty honourably arrived at with India. It is for this reason that they agitated and succeeded in the withdrawal of the IPKF. In every political crime committed in the Sri Lankan politics, the Buddhist clerical hand has always been identified as guilty. Faced with the threat of a military disaster, the Buddhist monks, forgetting their own past, are turning towards India for arms and for active intervention of the Indian army.

M. K. Eelaventhan,

General Secretary, TELF, Chennai

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Sir, - The ENDLF equates independence granted to East Timor with the aspirations for Eelam. One should not forget that unlike the LTTE occupied Sri Lanka, E. Timor was not a part of Indonesia before the West forced the hegemony of Indonesia on it. It was an independent state and lost it temporarily because of the machinations of the West. The demand made by E. Timor for independence should be viewed as a demand to restore the status quo prevailing earlier.

India has immense diversity in religion, language, culture and ethnicity and strives relentlessly to evolve a peaceful co- existence of its citizens. So has the U.S. and both have benefited from such cross- pollination. Imagine what India would have lost if it had shunned Abdul Kalam for his religion or R.D. Burman for his ethnicity. How can anyone support balkanisation of Sri Lanka based on ethnicity or language. The Tamils can legitimately claim autonomy under a federal structure and should live peacefully with the Sinhalese.

Preeta Suresh,