Tamil newspaper vandalized

The windows were smashed, leaving small glass shards hanging from the corners of the frame.  But the contents within the office of Toronto’s Tamil newspaper, Uthayan, were untouched.

“I am very lucky,” Uthayan editor Logan Logendralingam said. “In India and Sri Lanka, many newspapers are attacked. They go to the production department and damage the computers because they don’t want the papers to be published again.”

He is thankful the culprits did not damage the computers, Logendralingam said.

The windows of the office at Progress Avenue near Markham Road, have been covered with plywood. It will cost $12,000 to replace the windows — a difficult expense to cover since Uthayan is a free newspaper collecting revenue only from advertising, Logendralingam said,

The act may be revenge for a recent meeting between Tamil-Canadian leaders and the president of Sri Lanka, he said.

On Feb. 14 at 7:30 a.m. Logendralingam received an anonymous call on his cellphone.

“They said, ‘Your friends went to Sri Lanka and met the president. We don’t like it and we condemn that. So we did something to your office. You will see there is [a message].’ ”

Logendralingam thought the person left a written note on his door. When he arrived at the office, a gaping hole laid where a two-pane window used to be.

“There were broken pieces on the outside and inside.  Spread all over the place, 15 ft. from the door,” he said. “It was terrible and I got frustrated.”

The vandalism followed a week of angry phone calls to the Uthayan office from members of the Tamil community, upset at the Canada-Sri Lanka Business Council who sent a delegation to Sri Lanka to speak to President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Logendralingam said Uthayan consciously did not report on the trip.

“I could have got photographs from other websites, but I didn’t because I knew this would create more problems. This will create anger against our newspaper.”

Despite this decision, his office became the target of an attack because of its importance in the Tamil community, Logendralingam said.

“It is considered the number one Tamil newspaper [in Toronto] because of its coverage of community events,” he said.

The weekend vandalism was not the first attack on the Uthayan office. Three years ago, the windows at its old location on Ellesmere Road were also smashed – a reaction to an editorial he wrote on youth violence in the Tamil community. The culprits were never found.

Logendralingam said the Tamil community in Canada is not violent but vandalism is a way to express anger because the culprits are rarely caught.

“I don’t blame the police. But I hope they do something,” he said. “I want the people who did it to be educated. They must be taught it is an offence.”

Logendralingam addressed the attack in an editorial in the Feb. 26 issue, asking the community to speak out against vandalism.

The community response has been positive so far, he said.

“The whole community is against [the attack]. Nobody is happy with this. So it is a good sign.”