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September 14, 2000
Anti-Kannadiga posters surface in TN
Our correspondent in Pondicherry
The anti-terrorist Q branch police in Tamil Nadu has been shocked by the sudden appearance of anti-Kannadiga wall posters in parts of Cuddalore district, where peripheral pan-Tamil militancy was believed to have been snuffed out, until the Rajakumar kidnap episode proved otherwise.
The police have been keeping a close watch on Tamil militants in the region. The posters bear the sign of the Tamil National Liberation Army, one of two militant outfits associated with brigand Veerappan in the kidnap episode.
The posters, which appeared overnight in Thozhudur, Pennadam and Thittakudi in Cuddalore district, are anti-Kannadiga, blaming anti-Tamil organisations in Karnataka.
The Kannada Rakshana Vedike has ordered Tamils in Karnataka to leave the state, in preparation for Rajakumar's release by Veerappan and the Tamil militants. "We will not be responsible for their lives and belongings after Rajakumar is freed, if anti-Tamils riots break out in Karnataka," Vedike convenor Janakare Venkataramaiah told the Bangalore media.
Venkataramaiah has also allegedly told Tamils that they can walk the streets of Karnataka, their vehicles can ply on Karnataka's roads and Tamil films can be screened in Karnataka cinemas only till Rajakumar is released.
Trucks bearing Tamil Nadu registration numbers have stopped entering Karnataka and Tamil films are not being shown in the state, even though Kannada films have resumed screening from September 1.
Swearing by Lenin, a TNLA leader killed in bomb blast, and Thamizharasan, who was stoned to death by locals while escaping from a bank loot at Ponparappi village in Tiruchi district, the black and white posters refer to Venkataramaiah's statement in newspapers on September 5. It condemns the organisation and its leader.
Referring to Veerappan as a 'maa-veeran' or 'great warrior' of the Tamils, the posters say that Sivakumar had fallen victim to anti-Tamil riots after 'maa-veeran' Veerappan-nar (the suffix, an honorific, again) kidnapped Rajakumar. "If only we had lynched at least 200 of four lakh Kannadigas in Tamil Nadu in retaliation, the Vedike would not be saying this,'' the poster claimed.
"No Kannadiga, including senior Indian Administrative Service and Indian Police Service officials, in Tamil Nadu will be spared if Tamils in Karnataka are targeted after Rajakumar is freed," the posters declared.
While the local police lost no time in tearing up the posters, which did not bear the name of the printer, they have not missed the import of their claims. "It is now obvious that there are more cadres in the TNLA and its breakaway Tamil Nationalist Retrireview Force (TNRF), than we had estimated," said an official.
As he pointed out, "It was always possible that such underground peripheral groups would have members who may not have come under police scrutiny."
He added: "The Rajakumar kidnap episode may have enthused and encouraged other unemployed, adventurous youth with a streak of pan-Tamil nationalism, to take the path. This group may become a torch-bearer for the future and has to be snuffed out."
However, local political leaders and social workers are apprehensive about the anti-Tamil protests in Karnataka, and the free publicity to equally peripheral-Kannadiga groups like the Vedike, by the media in both states.
"Right now, public opinion in Tamil Nadu is against Veerappan and his Tamil militant allies, and against the Rajakumar kidnap episode. It is becoming obvious that someone out there wanted to use Veerappan and the Tamil militants, to revive pan-Tamilism in Tamil Nadu, on the strength of possible anti-Tamil riots in Karnataka," said a veteran Dravidian party ideologue.
"Now both state governments must ensure that nothing like this happens, lest it affects the fair name of the two states.''
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