Since the youth, whom we had interviewed in Pudukudiyiruppu city, had recommended us to meet the family of an ambulance driver, we started looking out for that family. We were meeting and talking with many people whom we had met on the way. The remarks made by a 70-year old man, whom we met at a tea stall, should be noted here.
"It is true that even we had encouraged the youth at the beginning of the war. However, when the causalities had started rising in the subsequent years, we were gripped with a great pain. The Tigers could have stopped the war by obtaining a political solution in one of the numerous peace talks held. However, they were not prepared for it till the last day. This had resulted in the killing of scores of Tamils. It is true that the SLAF had killed many Tamils through Ariel bomb attacks.
He further said "The Tigers had buried landmines in the areas controlled by them. They had collected tax in their areas. However, how long the Government can deploy the army cadres all around these areas, while supplying food not only to the army cadres but also to the civilians in the LTTE–controlled areas and also to sending salaries to the Government employees? Tigers too should have moved towards a political solution, when many Tamil organizations had moved towards it. There is no use of blaming the army alone now", he said.
We were shocked when he told us that he was living alone now after losing all his family members in the war.
We went to see the bunker house, where LTTE chief Prabhakaran had lived, very near to Pudukudiyiruppu city. The army had removed the thick bushes and created a road now. They have erected barbed-wire fence on both the sides of this road and put caution boards on landmines there. The Sri Lankan Government has converted that bunker house as a tourist centre now by providing facilities like canteen and washrooms. When we went to this bunker house, some school children and a Tamil family from Jaffna were visiting it.
The house looks like a big hall on the top. A net, carefully woven with dark and light green clothes, is spread on the roof of this house [when you see this house from the top it will look like trees and bushes]. Below this hall, Prabhakaran's house is constructed in three floors underneath the land. There is an underground car parking as well to enable to drive the car up to the ground floor and park it there. Each and every wall of this house built underneath the land has a thickness of 3 feet to make sure that the house cannot be destroyed even in bomb attacks and earthquakes.
Apart from the usual stairs, there is a separate ladder stair from the third floor underneath land to the top to escape out on emergency situations. There are four dugouts of patrolling dogs around this house. Apart from this, there are four camps of human bomb security guards. A 12-feet high electric-wire fence is erected around these camps. In addition to this, there are four more security Camps. Another barbed-wire fence follows this. After this, there is an area, buried with landmines for few meters. Prabhakaran's bunker house had been constructed with such a high security.
An army guide has been appointed to explain all this to the tourists. We could assume that the army has converted this bunker house as a tourist centre in order to make people understand the fact as to how safely the LTTE leader had lived while the civilians and ordinary Tigers were succumbing to bullets outside.
Subsequently, we proceeded to Mullaitivu from Pudukudiyiruppu city. On the way, we saw some brand new houses in the outskirts [almost near the place where the final phase of the war was held] and hence we went to collect information there. We talked to a widow who was living in one of these houses with her two children. The woman said "the army had built this house for me when I was struggling without house". We asked from her about the war period.
"During the war time, I did not come out of the house for many years due to the fear that the Movement would take me away. My mother gave me in marriage. After the marriage I was eagerly waiting to become pregnant. Because, I could come out freely if I am a pregnant woman as LTTE will not take away pregnant women. I could breathe the air of freedom. Likewise, I had started going out of my house after 4 months of my pregnancy. Even the LTTEers had stopped me and inquired. They allowed me to proceed only after believing that I was a pregnant woman.
I used to go out with my infant child after she was born and never faced problems. However, when the child started growing I was under the fear that they could hand over my child to my mother and take me with them. Hence, I became pregnant once again and was roaming around freely. However, they [Movement] had started searching for my husband and he ran away from my house subsequently. He is yet to return to me", she said amidst tears.
When we had a chat with an old woman nearby, she said, "India is the one building my house. They give SL Rs. 5.5 lakhs [INRS. 2.5 lakhs] to us. We have to buy building materials and employ a mason to build our houses. As the building works go on they will give money to us in installments. The price of sand is very high. We could able to build our houses within the allotted funds as we ourselves work as assistants to mason. We cannot build the houses in a luxurious way. We should thank India since we could at least build a basic house for us".
Through this it seems that the allegations made by some people in Tamil Nadu that "funds given by India are getting looted" are false. [see the box news]
Then, we went to Mullivaikkal along the banks of Nandikadal Lagoon. We could not see many houses there. We saw a dilapidated ship in the sea shore here. We inquired about this vessel, while sipping tea at an army-run canteen nearby. "This is the place where war had come to an end 100%. The few remaining tigers were hiding inside this vessel and were firing. The army had shot them down and completed the war," they said. When we inquired about the vessel they said that "the Tigers had dragged this foreign vessel, which got stranded in Sri Lankan territorial waters due to a technical failure to this area. They removed the engines and others parts from this vessel from time to time and used them for their boats", they said.
Later, we went to Mullaitivu and had a chat with few Tamils there. They explained about the last day of the war. "We got caught in Mullivaikkal area along with the Tigers. They were not prepared to send us out. In the meantime, army had come close to us through Pudukudiyiruppu and Mullaitivu. Army was surrounding on both the sides. Sea was on one side and Nandikadal Lagoon was on the other side. We could not escape anywhere. We lost hopes that we could survive. At that time, Sri Lankan army advanced towards the sea area somehow and started attacking the Tigers from there. Hence we managed to escape through a narrow bridge on Nandikadal Lagoon and started running towards Mullaitivu.
"The army which had initially fired at us had stopped the firing once it realized that we were civilians. Many people, who fell in the lagoon, in an attempt to escape from the firing, lost their lives in the water. After the civilians went out of the area, the army had entered in to it and brought the war to an end. Though, hundreds of civilians were killed along with the Tigers on the last day of the war, we should only call it as an unbelievable miracle that thousands of people like us managed to escape then and live alive now", they said. We could see a kind of fear on their eyes when they narrated the above incident.
Subsequently, we went to meet the family of that ambulance driver. This family comprises of husband, wife and two sons. The elder son has an artificial leg. We had a chat with that driver. He said, "I work as an ambulance driver in a Government hospital. I was under the custody of the LTTE for more than 10 years. My job was to admit the Tigers, who suffer injuries in the war, in the hospitals. I had saved several thousands of Tigers in this way. I have two sons and one daughter. When my children started growing I got scared and pleaded the LTTE to release my family out of their custody. I believe that they would have sympathy on me by considering the help I did to them. But they did not accept my plea.
"After some time I went to them and pleaded again, "I will stay here and serve you. Please send out my spouse and children" but they did not accept my plea. Instead they threatened me at gun point stating that "whether I was so concerned about my life". Subsequently, during one of the ariel attacks, my wife and children were forced to hide in a bunker but my daughter got buried in the sand and died alive", he said amidst tears while showing the wall paper photo of his daughter in his cell phone.
"I went to the Movement once again bravely and pleaded them that I will stay with them until the very end and requested them to send my family out. They had chased me forcefully. Moreover, they came to my house the very next day and took my elder son also with them. When I and my wife fell at their feet and pleaded that we had just lost our daughter and therefore to leave my son, they threatened me at gun point once again. While we were weeping at home they took me forcefully to drive the ambulance. My son had managed to escape from them within few days. However, they came and took him away again before we hide him.
He had attempted to escape from them next time too. They got angry and fired at his leg. The bullet pierced the flush above the knee and came out on the other side. I myself had to take my son in my ambulance and admit him in the hospital. The Red Cross vessel of the Sri Lankan Government used to visit Mullaitivu frequently during that time and take the injured people with them for treatment. The Tigers were the ones who were issuing passes and hand over the grievously injured people to the members of the Red Cross. Since the Red Cross vessel came to our area at the time when my son was shot at his knee, I had pleaded the LTTE to hand over my son to Red Cross but they did not accept it. "Bullet has come out, is it not? Let us have the treatment here itself" they said. However, the treatment given to him did not meet success and they amputated his leg within few days by saying that the internal veins got spoiled.
"I wept inconsolably and protested. Subsequently, they had agreed to send my wife and younger son in the Red Cross vessel and they went out. During the final phase of the war, I managed to go to the "Receiving Point" by carrying my elder son with me and sought refuge with the army. We cannot see such worst monsters like Tigers anywhere in the world. If a separate state was established under their leadership, it would have been a most cruel country in the world", said the ambulance driver furiously. His wife said that, from the day they (LTTE) had realized that they were going to lose, they started behaving like animals". The youth, who had lost his leg, is yet to come out of the mental shock till date.
Many sad stories like this are coming up against LTTE in many parts of the Northern Province. However, some people, who refuse to accept these facts, immediately raise questions like "if it is so, are all the Sri Lankan army cadres good people? "Is Rajapaksa a Mahatma? [A great person]" in a hurried way. We will search answer for the question, "Didn't the Rajapaksa-led Government commit any mistakes?", in the next edition.
[To be continued]………S. J. Idhaya and A.A. Samy
Is there any corruption in the aid given by India?
"Many allegations like, "the Sri Lankan Government ransacks the funds given by India to the Sri Lankan Tamils to build new houses, houses are built for Sinhalese with the help of those funds and the Sri Lankan Government uses these funds for some other requirements" etc., have been raised here. When we inquired about these allegations at the Indian diplomatic circles, a Mission official said "initially it was decided to build houses only for 1,000 people through an agency. Subsequently, it was decided to remit the amount [SLRS. 5.5 Lakhs] in the bank account of the beneficiary directly at different installments, since there was a room for allegations surfacing on that matter. Accordingly, the Indian Government itself disburses money to the Tamil beneficiaries directly. Hence there is no chance of any kind of corruption, bribe or lack of quality to surface in this matter", he said.
Likewise, even the work of laying railway tracks by India too is carried out through an Indian contractor only. It is said that the funds for this work were not given to the Sri Lankan Government directly. It is also said that China too, which is carrying out the work of laying highways – which it does as a help to Sri Lanka – through a Chinese contractor and with the help of Chinese workers only.
Appreciation in Facebook
This serial article is published in "Thuglak Weekly" Facebook page every week and the readers of this Facebook page appreciate it a lot. Last week, when the "Thuglak in Sri Lanka-5" segment was published in that Facebook page more than 3,500 readers read it in a single day. Scores of people have "shared" that particular "Thuglak" page in their Facebook accounts. Though few readers have expressed opinions against this article, majority of them are going on appreciating "Thuglak" for exposing the ground reality in Sri Lanka.
Moreover, it may be noted here that many Sri Lanka Tamil websites including akkininews.com, thenee.com, kattankudi.info, tbclondon.com, marikumar.blogspot .com too continue to publish this serial article in their web portals.
© THUGLAK, 2013