CHENNAI: Last year July the Tamil Nadu government announced that November 1 will be celebrated as Tamil Nadu Day to commemorate the formation of the State. However, with no official functions and amidst strict restrictions by the police, there were lukewarm responses to the celebration of the day on Sunday.
Police sources confirmed that they issued a warning to a section of Tamil Nationalist groups against hoisting a separate flag representing the State on the Tamil Nadu day. In a warning notice, police threatened to invoke sedition charges under IPC 124A against those who hoist separate flags for the State. Last week a group of Tamil nationalist activists released a flag for the State.
Not only the police curbed hoisting of flags, but also prevented all forms of celebration of Tamil Nadu day in Chennai, Coimbatore, Tiruchy and Madurai, activists claimed. In Madurai, a few activists were
detained for garlanding ‘Statue of Tamil Annai’.
The pro-Tamil activists claimed that the ruling government has backtracked on the decision of observing Tamil Nadu day within a year after announcing the day. They questioned why there were no official celebrations like other States have.
Aazhi Senthil Nathan, coordinator of Thannatchi Tamizhagam said, “When majority of States including Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Uttarakhand celebrate State formation day, Tamil Nadu government alone downplays the event.”
The Karnataka has got its own flag and it has been hoisted at State and Central government offices for several years even though it was not officially recognised by the State government. “It’s not a matter
of legitimacy, but the feeling and emotions of the people. It was neither illegal nor anti national to hoist a separate flag for the State.”
On November 1, 1956, the boundaries of erstwhile Madras Presidency were redrawn based on linguistic lines with the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 came into force. The present geography of the Tamil Nadu was sliced from the Madras Presidency comprising the Tamil-speaking population.
In 1956, freedom fighter Sankaralinganar died after a 76-day hunger strike demanding renaming of the Madras State to Tamil Nadu along with few other demands. The Madras State was formally renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1969 when it was headed by DMK founder C N Annadurai.
K Ramakrishnan, general secretary, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam said, “The State formation day is observed only to rekindle the unique way of life and cultural aspects of the Tamils and will not be used against the system or party."
Ramakrishnan added that they were ready to forgo the new flag released by Tamil groups, if the State government releases an official flag for the State.
CPM Polit Bureau member G Ramakrishnan recalled that it was a unified left party which first demanded state reorganisation on linguistic basis after Independence. "In 1963, on behalf of CPM MP P Ramamurthi, MP Bupesh Gupta moved a private bill in parliament demanding renaming of the Madras State and it was backed by Annadurai."
Though he was not a communist party member, freedom fighter Sankaralinganar's body was handed over to communist party as per his last wish. "Tamil Nadu Day should be observed to protect the cultural
identity of Tamils."
In spite of repeated attempts, AIADMK spokespersons could not be reached for comments.