The IPL 2022 Mega Auction saw Chennai Super Kings retain the core of the side, with the likes of Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar all making a fantastic comeback. Deepak Chahar was bought for Rs 14 crore while Dwayne Bravo came at Rs 4.4 crore. Apart from this, there were some notable buys in Devon Conway, Shivam Dube, Ambati Rayudu, Mitchell Santner, and Robin Uthappa. Thus, Chennai Super Kings retained the core which meant that their auction was completely successful. However, the acquisition of Sri Lanka spinner Maheesh Theekshana has raised eyebrows and caused complications.
Maheesh Theekshana was bought for Rs 70 lakh in the IPL 2022 Mega Auction. Theekshana will become only the seventh Sri Lanka player after Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thisara Perera, Suraj Randiv, and Thilan Thushara to play the IPL for Chennai Super Kings. But, the acquisition of Theekshana has not made fans happy. In the aftermath of the IPL 2022 Mega Auction, there was a trend on social media that went viral. It was #BoycottCSK.
At first, many people felt that the trend was in response to the shocking omission of Suresh Raina who went unsold in the auction. But, later on, it was revealed to be Maheesh Theekshana’s acquisition.
Everyone knows Maheesh Theekshana to be one of the most promising mystery spinners in Sri Lanka. But, prior to his cricket career, Theekshana was part of the Sri Lankan Army with a rank of Army Corporal. Theekshana has often praised the Army for the way how they helped him in his cricket. But, it is his involvement with one particular regiment that is causing all the problems.
Theekshana is part of the Gajaba Regiment, an Army unit that has been blamed for the atrocities that were committed in the Mirusuvil campaign of the 2009 LTTE-Sri Lanka War. In that incident, eight civilians including three children were killed and buried in mass graves. In addition, he has gone on public record to praise the Sri Lanka Army Head Shavendra Silva. For the record, Silva has been accused of war crimes too in the 2009 War.
There was no concern raised about the participation of Sri Lanka players in the aftermath of the 2009 war. Players like Nuwan Kulasekara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Thilan Thushara, and Suraj Randiv all played until 2012. However, all that changed in 2013 thanks to former Chief Minister J Jayalalitha. In a letter written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, she explained that Sri Lanka players cannot play in the IPL.
She explained her actions and the overwhelming “anger” in the state at Sri Lanka’s “barbaric acts” towards the Tamils. “The Government of Tamil Nadu will permit IPL matches to be held in Tamil Nadu, only if the organizers provide an undertaking that no Sri Lankan players, umpires, officials or support staff would participate in these matches,” she wrote.
Thus, for nine years, there has been no Sri Lankan representation in the Chennai Super Kings team. The entire criticism centered on Maheesh Theekshana once again shows the mirror to the Indian Tamil public who are victims of myopic politics. Once again, it has given an opportunity for politicians who only claim to speak for the Tamil atrocities but will not lift a finger to do anything about it.
Straight from the outset, it is to be known that the 2009 Sri Lanka-LTTE War was brutal. Atrocities were or might have been committed. But, one must understand the warped history of the Tamil situation in Sri Lanka.
Traditionally, the Tamil Community in Sri Lanka has been divided into Hill Tamils and Eelam Tamils. The historical claim is that the Hill Tamils were laborers who came to work in Tea plantations in Central Sri Lanka from the 19th century till the late 20th century. Eelam Tamils, on the other hand, claim to have descended from the erstwhile Jaffna Kingdom and chieftaincies called Vannamials.
When Sri Lanka gained independence in 1956, the majority Sinhala population looked to right the wrong of the British favoring the minority Tamil population. The Sinhala Only Act proved to be the major force behind the schism. The Hill Tamils were classified as stateless people. But, Eelam Tamils decided to have a violent insurgency campaign in the 1970s. It was not until the Black July pogrom against the Tamil population that saw the conflict between LTTE and Sri Lanka forces blow out in full brutality.
The outrage over Maheesh Theekshana is kind of misplaced. Theekshana was only nine when the Sri Lanka-LTTE War ended. He was too young to have realized the full magnitude of what had happened. When he came to the Army, he obviously got help to fulfill most goals in his career. Thus, if Theekshana has praised the Sri Lanka army, then it is difficult to understand the criticism.
Plus, if one has to strictly look at the holistic picture, it is very hard to find sympathy with the LTTE. For 26 years, Terrorism had reared its ugly head in Sri Lanka. The action by Sri Lanka was one of the few that many nations would have taken to counter-terrorism. For three decades, ordinary Sri Lankans suffered. To eliminate terror, this had to be the step. No two ways about it.
In the case of the current fan outrage, everybody seems to have been confused with the plight of the Tamil population. Which Tamil? The Sri Lanka Tamils or the Hill Tamils? In all these years, be it the idea for a separate homeland for Tamils, the Hill Tamils seemed to have been ignored throughout. The Governments of both India and Sri Lanka failed to repatriate them after they were classified as stateless citizens in the 60s. Even in the entire war, the Hill Tamils did not get their due. Their condition still remains worse.
There is an unwritten commandment that sports should never be mixed with politics. In India, there is a massive group of people that advocate peaceful ties with Pakistan, despite Pakistan fueling terrorism and committing atrocities galore. Where is that understanding when it comes to Sri Lanka? A country legitimately rooted out terrorism. The fact that many people were killed brutally is just the nature of the war and situation.
Tamil sympathy from India is misplaced. There has never been enough pressure to repatriate Hill Tamils. The myopic propaganda that the politicians in Tamil Nadu have always portrayed has been the poison for defeating logic in Tamil Nadu. Politicians in Tamil Nadu have gone to the extreme to make their point.
During the heights of the Kaveri issue, they caused enough pressure to ensure that Chennai Super Kings would not play their games in Chepauk. In the end, Chennai Super Kings had to play their games outside of Chennai. The politicians rejoiced with this one small success. Did the Kaveri issue get sorted out? No. Nine years ago, Tamil Nadu’s politicians played the ultimate politics and kicked out several players from a country that was impacted by terrorism. The players had nothing to do with it. Now, it is once again being repeated in the case of Maheesh Theekshana. Sadly, the politicians will once again have their way.