UGC warns stern action against lecturers attending ‘pro-Eelam’ event; Professor Sanmugadas clarifies to media on London conference

international institute of tamil studies 2     The University Grants Commission says it will take stern action against four Sri Lankan university lecturers who are reported to have participated in an alleged pro-Eelam conference in London organized by the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE).

The Chairperson of the University Grants Commission, Prof. Kshanika Hirimburegama said that an extensive investigations will be carried out regarding the purported participation of these lecturers in the pro-Eelam gathering as they had obtained leave by claiming that were to attend a Tamil Language seminar abroad. If they are found to have participated in an ‘anti-Sri Lankan’ gathering stern disciplinary action will be taken against them, she was quoted saying by the Government Information Department.

The University Grants Commission grants leave for University Lecturers to further academic activities by attending seminars and conferences in overseas countries.

Prof. Hirimburegama said that these lecturers who have gained their current status through the free education provided by the Sri Lankan state and acting against the very state that helped them to acquire prominent positions in the academic field cannot be accepted under any circumstances.

The three professors who have participated in this anti Sri Lanka gathering are from the Universities of Jaffna, Sabaragamuwa and Uva Wellassa.

The Chief of Defence Staff General Jagath Jayasuriya addressing media personnel at the CDS office at the BMICH premises on Wednesday said that four senior professors have left the country to participate in a program organized by the Transitional Government of Tamil Eelam in England, under the guise of carrying out a research study.

Meanwhile  Professor A Sanmugadas the Emeritus Professor of Tamil and Linguistics speaking to media in London said that he had a long academic career since 1965 at Peradeniya and later in Jaffna universities and that he accepted the organisation of the conference after verifying that there would be no political connections and no participation of any politicians.

The invitation for papers was sent to various universities in India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Canada and elsewhere, he said, adding that the aim was to collect valid papers on Tamilology. He said the World Research Centre for Tamilological Studies based in London has made arrangements to hold a Research Conference on Tamilology from 14 to 18 August at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, to coincide with the Centenary Celebrations of Rev Dr. Thaninayagam Adigalar. 8 such international conferences were held in the past and the last one was held in Chennai in 2009. The current conference is to keep the continuity, he said.

As the centenary of the grand Tamil scholar Rev. Fr. Thaninayagam Adika’l was falling on this year, it was decided to convene the conference as a felicitation of him, Sanmugadas said, briefing on the contributions of Thaninayagam in internationalising Tamilology. Rev.FATHER XAVIER THANINAYAGAM a Catholic priest from JAFFNA and Professor and head of Indian Studies, University of MALAYSIA, from 1961 to 1969  organised the First International Conference Seminar of TAMIL Studies, 1966, and out of which  the International Association for Tamil Research was born. The IATR organised the first International TAMIL conference-cum-seminar in 1966 in KUALA LUMPUR. Fr. THANINAYAGAM who championed Tamil Culture made a large contribution towards internationalising Tamil Studies died in 1980

The International Institute of Tamil Studies in Chennai is now printing the 124 papers, accepted for presentation at the conference, Prof Sanmugadas said. None of them are political or “extreme sort” of papers; he was personally involved in ensuring it, such papers were not allowed, he further said.

Around 45 to 50 delegates have personally come. The majority of them are from India and Sri Lanka. As I am from ‘Sri Lanka’ I had contacted my colleagues in the universities of Peradeniya, Jaffna, Sabragamuwa, Uve Wellasa etc. Many couldn’t come, as they didn’t get the visa in time, Sanmugadas said.

He was reiterating that the papers were on Tamil literature, linguistics and culture, and the conference was convened only for the purpose of Tamilology.

Meanwhile Professor K Vichayarakavan, the director of the International Institute of Tamil Studies, a Tamil Nadu government institution and Dr K Chithamparam, an associate professor of the institution have also came out with statements to media in London.

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