“MY leaders S.J.V. Chelvanayagam and A. Amrithalingam were in contact with Karunanidhi,” said R. Sampanthan, the veteran Sri Lankan Tamil politician and the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament.
“I came to move closely with him after I took up residency in Tamil Nadu for some time consequent to the racial riots in Sri Lanka in 1983,” he told Frontline over phone from Colombo. “I have been in close touch with Kalaignar Karunanidhi and met him often in the company of Amrithalingam. He was very interested in the resolution of the Tamil question in Sri Lanka and, within his limits, did all that he could to contribute towards a resolution of the Tamil question in Sri Lanka. My contacts with him continued thereafter, and even after we left Tamil Nadu we remained in touch with him. He was a very senior politician and was much respected by everyone, particularly the Tamil people,” he added.
In his condolence message, Sampanthan described Karunanidhi as the foremost leader of Tamils world over and said that he not only guided the party in the path laid down by the DMK ideologue C.N. Annadurai but also worked hard for the growth of the classical language, Tamil. Recalling his contributions to Sri Lankan Tamils, he said that Karunanidhi highlighted the plight of the Sri Lankan Tamil people during the riots and ensured that the Government of India took note of it.