Hill country Tamil leader Thondaman remembered

[TamilNet, Saturday, 30 August 2003, 17:57 GMT]
Sri Lanka Saturday remembered the services rendered to the minorities and oppressed people by the hill country Tamil leader late Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman on his 90th birthday, which falls on August 30, 2003, sources from upcountry said.

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Thondaman was the founder member of the Ceylon-Indian Congress, which was inaugurated in 1939 by the then first Prime Minister of India Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Mr.Thondaman became the President of the Ceylon-Indian Congress in 1943. Mr.Thondaman entered parliamentary politics by winning Nuwara Eliya constituency in 1947 general election with a majority of about 9 thousand votes. In the 1947 general election, the Ceylon Indian Congress contested eight parliamentary constituencies and won seven.

The Ceylon Indian Congress under the leadership of Mr.Thondaman organized a non-violent campaign against the citizenship act brought by the first Prime Minister of the country Mr.D.S.Senanayake disenfranchising Indian Tamils in the hill country. Since then upto 1977 not a single Indian Tamil was elected to parliament. He founded the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC) following the split in the Ceylon Indian Congress. He served as the President of the CWC till his death. He died on 30th October 1999.

He was elected one of the co- leaders of the Tamil United Liberation Front at the inaugural meeting along with late Mr.S.J.V.Chelvanayakam and late Mr.G.G.Ponnambalam.When the TULF at its Vaddukoddai convention declared Tamil Eelam policy, Mr.Thondaman stepped down from the post of co-president of the TULF. However he voiced for the rights of the Tamils in the northeast province.

He was an outspoken leader. While serving in the cabinet of the then Presidents Jayawardene and Premadasa and the present President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge he openly declared that the ethnic problem of the country could be solved only through a negotiated political settlement with the LTTE leadership. Mr.Thondaman went one step further and told late Presidents Mr.Jayawaradene and Mr. Premadasa to hand over the northeast administration to the LTTE leader Mr.V.Pirapaharan for over a stipulated period

Special religious ceremony was held at CWC headquarters “ Sawmya Bawan " in Colombo Saturday morning. His statue at parliament was garlanded. Later foundation stone was laid for a Tamil Maha Vidiyalayam in Kottagala. Dry ration, clothes, three wheelers, bicycles and vehicles to selected under privileged persons and disabled persons were distributed in view of the 90th birthday celebrations of late leader Mr.Thondaman Saturday, sources said

 

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