Political leaders across Sri Lanka’s ethnic divide on Tuesday condoled the passing of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
While she had had a tumultuous equation with the island throughout her political career over the Tamil question, the fishermen’s conflict and the demand to retrieve Katchatheevu, Sri Lankan leaders saw her as a formidable actor in the region.
The late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa’s involvement in the Sri Lankan Tamil issue began almost immediately after she joined the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and became its propaganda secretary within a year in 1983.
It was in the later part of 1983 that over 1 lakh Sri Lankan Tamil refugees poured into Tamil Nadu, pushed out by the anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka in July that year. Sensing a great political opportunity to whip up pro-Tamil sentiments, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) led by M Karunanidhi took the lead in organising support for the beleaguered Sri Lankan Tamils. This left AIADMK leader and Chief Minister M G Ramachandran with no option, but to join the Eelam Tamil bandwagon as staying away from it would have been politically suicidal.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe today apologised for the burning of Jaffna Library in 1981 and urged the Joint Opposition to apologize for what happened during that time as well.
“The public library in Jaffna was burnt during a United National Party (UNP) Government in 1981. We know it was wrong and tender an apology for it,” he said.