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Murali's statement, food for thought

The recent statement by the world's best bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan is indeed food for thought, not only for racist politicians in Tamil Nadu, but also for the international community. It sends a clear signal to India's central government and others who show undue concern for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Some Western countries and certain key officials in international organisations invariably attempt to project a dismal picture on Sri Lanka, thereby undermining the country's progress since terrorism was laid to rest. A section of the Tamil diaspora and LTTE cohorts are also projecting a gloomy picture on Sri Lanka, that the Tamils are being discriminated against.

Nevertheless, Muralitharan, one of the most celebrated Sri Lankans and himself a Tamil, has told the world in no uncertain terms, the stark fact about the prevailing situation here, contrary to the concocted stories spread by a section of the Tamil diaspora and LTTE cohorts. The international community should give serious thought to Muralitharan's observation as it comes straight from the horse's mouth.

Some Tamil Nadu politicians are conducting themselves in the most unbecoming manner, jeopardising the foreign policy of the central government of India. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jeyaram has 'decreed' that Sri Lankan players should not be entertained for the forthcoming Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament and banned them playing matches in the state capital, Chennai. Chennai Super Kings, which represents the Tamil Nadu state at the IPL, has decided against playing their two contracted Sri Lankan players, Nuwan Kulasekera and Akila Dananjaya due to mounting political pressure from Jayalalithaa.

However, Muralitharan's emblazoned statement should wake up Jayalalithaa and opportunist politicians in Tamil Nadu who are dragging unwarranted political issues into sports to gain petty political mileage. It goes without saying that Muralitharan is very close to the hearts and minds of Tamils, in both Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu. Moreover, the world record-holder, who played for Tamil Nadu's Chennai Super Kings at the IPL, is warmly cherished by all Sri Lankans, irrespective of ethnic affiliations.

On the other hand, Muralitharan has a soft corner for Tamil Nadu as his better half hails from a renowned Tamil family from the South Indian state. Hence, he has the right to analyse the situation and speak on behalf of his community and his countrymen.

The Lankan spin wizard, in an interview with the Indian media last week, had expressed his displeasure over the recent unsavoury developments in Tamil Nadu. "It's sad that the Tamil Nadu government doesn't want us there. It's always unfortunate when people in power start mixing politics with sports. Hence, if they don't want me in Chennai, then I won't go. I can't do anything else about it," Muralitharan was quoted as saying to the Indian Express on Tuesday.

Muralitharan's down-to-earth statement on the prevailing peaceful coexistence among all communities in Sri Lanka is ample testimony to the country's achievements since terrorism was defeated almost four years ago. The world's most successful bowler in international cricket has said that his Sri Lankan nationality takes precedence over his Tamil ethnicity. He has dismissed baseless claims about discrimination against Tamils in the country.

Muralitharan said; "I am a Tamil. But I'm a Sri Lankan first. And the ban means, I'm not wanted there either. I can assure you that there has been immense peace all around Sri Lanka since May 2009 and the Tamils are living very happily here. They are treated equally well".

Does anybody in the international community need further proof to understand the true ground situation in Sri Lanka? It is also a fitting reply to those who had voiced against Sri Lanka during the recent US-led Resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

It is deplorable, to say the least, that Tamil Nadu politicians are dragging politics into the sports arena as well. That is precisely why Muralitharan had said that it is disappointing for them since cricketers entertain sports fans regardless of nationality, race or religious considerations.

Renowned cricketers such as Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya and Arjuna Ranatunga are held in high esteem by people in India and they care less for their nationality or ethnicity in supporting the Sri Lanka cricket team in the past. Most people in Tamil Nadu do not hold anything against Sri Lanka or its people. But it is deplorable that power-hungry politicians in Tamil Nadu are moving heaven and earth to gain petty political mileage by marketing Sri Lankan Tamils.

Muralitharan, a highly respected, non-political and moderate person, always speaks the truth while upholding the ideals of justice. In the event there had been any discrimination, whatsoever, against ethnic Tamils, he would have certainly exposed it. He articulated to the Indian Express his forthright views and the true ground situation in Sri Lanka. Hence, those who shed crocodile tears on the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka should first and foremost take the cue from what Muralitharan has disclosed.

Muralitharan, who has no political leanings, would never make sweeping statements to pamper politicians. He is a man of sterling qualities and would always voice against injustice and discrimination. Hence, we fail to perceive as to why the international community, especially politicians in Tamil Nadu and the Tamil diaspora, should not see things in its correct perspective after Muralitharan's unbiased statement.

A section of the Tamil diaspora and LTTE cohorts are spreading false propaganda saying that Tamils are being discriminated against in Sri Lanka. This had been the same strategy adopted by the LTTE to woo international sympathy and seek a short cut towards its dream of creating a separate state in Sri Lanka. Many Western politicians and top officials of international organisations fell prey to this ploy and held negative views on Sri Lanka.

The LTTE indoctrinated people in the North and the East that they could not win their rights under a united Sri Lanka. Ruthless Velupillai Prabhakaran and his blood-thirsty goons did their damnedest to drive a wedge between the Tamils and the Sinhalese so that he could capitalise on it to capture power.

Thanks to the supreme sacrifices by the true sons of our soil who liberated over half a million people in the North and the East from the jaws of LTTE terror, all communities in Sri Lanka are now enjoying the dividends of peace. People in these two provinces have now begun a new lease of life as the Tamils are living in peace in a spirit of camaraderie with their Sinhalese and Muslim brethren.

The dawn of peace has opened new horizons to Sri Lanka and the country is developing rapidly in every sphere. The mega development projects launched in the North and the East had provided better living conditions for Tamils in the Northern and the Eastern Provinces. Muralitharan has brought these facts into sharp focus, which regrettably, have not been understood by some politicians in Tamil Nadu.

Western politicians who depend heavily on the Tamil diaspora vote for their survival continue to pamper LTTE cohorts. They openly disregard the true ground situation in Sri Lanka and don't acknowledge the peaceful coexistence among all communities in Sri Lanka. Thanks to the misguided efforts of these Western politicians, the US-led Resolution against Sri Lanka was passed by a mere 12 votes while eight countries abstained from voting.

Some world leaders and UNHRC officials who seem to be more concerned about the human rights of LTTE terrorists killed in action than those of civilians who were brutally massacred by the Tigers, should at least now try to understand what Muralitharan has told the world on Sri Lanka's progress.

The resolutions passed at the UNHRC in successive years would only help hamper the peaceful coexistence of all ethnic groups and the country's progress since LTTE terrorism was eradicated. If the West is really concerned about the well-being of Tamils, they must take Muralitharan's message seriously.

Tamil Nadu politicians should desist from stoking racism for petty political gain and intimidating the central government. The long-standing cordial ties between the two countries should be fostered at all times, despite the petty statements by Tamil Nadu's political opportunists.

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