"Landmines yet to be removed"
Since we had travelled in the Jaffna-Kilinochchi A9 highway during the day time, we could see the caution boards' with red-coloured skulls and two bones on both the sides of the road. The moment we had stopped the car and got down from it 6-7 persons, wearing a strange uniform, sunglasses covering the face and with walkie-talkies rushed towards our vehicle, all of a sudden. They chased us away by saying "don't stop the car here, start immediately".
A person, who identified us as Tamils by seeing our faces, has cautioned, "the work of removing landmines is going on here. One of the landmines may blast at any time. Therefore there is no permission to stop the vehicles here. Go away immediately". Then only we saw the "caution board" which read danger landmines.
Subsequently, we have started our car journey and saw similar "Caution Boards" on both the sides of the road for few kilometers. Many people were involved in the work of removing the buried land mines. They dig sand, get confirmed that there are no landmines and then insert a stick on the place to identify that it is a safe place. [Earlier they used to run a unmanned robot vehicle in these areas and trigger blasts. Subsequently they will manually dig the sand and confirm that this place has no landmines. A mere look makes us understand that this job is a very risky one. Earlier landmines were removed in the places where people were to be resettled and then they were resettled there. After completing that work this work has started in this forest area. We came to know about this information through a army official whom we met later].
Moreover, all the Palmyra trees in that area had lost its leaves and stood like lamp posts. The Tamil driver, who was driving our car, explained us the significance of that area. "Jaffna started getting liberated from the control of the LTTE since 2004 itself. Since Jaffna has an harbor and airport, the Sri Lankan government brought a huge quantum of army troops there and brought Jaffna under their control. However, Kilinochchi was under the control of the LTTE till January 2009.
"In this situation, since the army was advancing in this Jaffna-Kilinochchi road, the LTTE had buried landmines throughout this area. Hence a severe battle took place in this area for many years. Severe aerial attacks had taken place here. All the trees here were burnt in these attacks only. The army, which had eliminated the LTTE by carrying out incessant aerial attacks in these areas, removed landmines for many months, created a road, advanced ahead and captured Kilinochchi. Since this is the area where large number of landmines were buried, the work of removing these landmines is not yet finished", the driver said.
When we neared Kilinochchi, army and police have intercepted our car on the way. When we thought that they are going to enquire us, they gave us pamphlets in our hands and asked the driver to drive the vehicle safely and then allowed us to proceed.
We saw a very clean Kilinochchi when we arrived there. All the buildings like new schools, new government offices, new power stations etc., looked very new. We saw private buildings of Tamils and the renovated new jewelry shops and two-wheeler showrooms. We could see school students, both boys and girls, roaming around the unmanned streets with their uniforms, without any fear. When we reached the office of V. Ananda Sangaree, MP, former Secretary, TULF, we saw a huge water tank felled on the road completely. When we asked the passersby about it, they have said that the Tigers had blasted this water tank to prevent the army cadres from procuring water out of this tank. The LTTE had left this place only after the bombing the government completely here, they said.
We took a photograph of that water tank and met V. Ananda Sangaree, former MP and Secretary of TULF at his office. He was in the TNA alliance earlier, but left it now. He said, "LTTE chief Prabhakaran too as bad as like Rajapaksa. Prabhakaran prevented many Tamils of Vanni from going out of Vanni even during the severe war and decimated many Tamil families by keeping them as human shields. TNA too has the same share as Prabhakaran in decimating the Tamils.
"TNA too was one of the reasons for the decimation of Prabhakaran and thousands of Tamils by not preparing him for a political solution. TNA, though it was aware that several lakhs of Tamils were caught in LTTE's zone during the final phase of the war, did not take any efforts to safe them. They might have thought to let Prabhakaran and his family die, since they could not do politics if Prabhakaran was alive", Ananda Sangaree said.
He further said, "opportunities for a solution came up at many stages. Even Rajapaksa too came forward to accept an Indian model provincial council solution at one stage. But the LTTE had chosen only disaster. Rajapaksa had called Tamil parties even at the last juncture. He told us that nearly 65,000 Tamils had surrendered to the army and only around 20,000 people were still in LTTE's custody. However, I had refused his statement and said "three lakhs civilians were in LTTE's control". But Rajapaksa was angry on me and told me not to bluff.
"However, I repeated the above statement categorically and then he believed it to some extent. Hence he ordered to send additional quantum of food materials to them. [During the war time, food was sent by the Sri Lankan government to the Tamils in the LTTE-controlled areas every day. Moreover, Rajapaksaa had created many "No Fire Zones" and announced that people may come out and seek refuge under the army's receiving point. On the first day of his announcement itself 85,000 people came to "receiving point "from the LTTE controlled areas. In the subsequent days, around 2.80 lakhs Tamils came out. The war had intensified further only after that stage and came to a conclusion. [See-box news].
"Though the LTTE had done a mega error and decimated the Tamils it cannot be punished since it was a militant outfit. However, the same error should not be committed by a government. There should be some restrictions for it. It should not lose patience and massacre thousands of people too. No one can hang Rajapaksa even if many complaints on human rights violations raised at the international arena. Only the God can punish him. As otherwise, the next government should hold an enquiry and get him the punishment. These things will never take place.
However, it is enough, if the future governments take action to treat Tamils on par with others. Though India is fighting against Islamic militants it made Abdul Kalam, a Muslim, as its President. It did not make a community, which was accused by few people that it had killed Indira Gandhi and it had people who demanded separatism, as a culprit and generously made a Sikh as its President. We expect the same generosity, accorded by India wherein Mahatma Gandhi was born, from the Sri Lanka government too. Let the Tigers go and let them give equal rights to Tamils here." V. Ananda Sangaree, concluded.
When we were dining at a restaurant there, a person told us, "the Tamil women of this area have been recruited to the Sri Lanka army cadres now. 102 young Tamil women have joined the army now. The highlight here is some of these women had served the LTTE organization. If you go to Women Wing of the Army Camp in Kilinochchi you can meet many of these women" he said. Subsequently, we made an attempt to meet these women at the Kilinochchi Army Camp and our efforts tasted a success.
"New Tamil women joined the same Sri Lankan Army which was scolded by the people in Tamil Nadu now? Moreover some of them were former Tigers? We rushed to the Camp with a shock and surprise.
--- S. J. Idhaya and A. A. Samy.
[To be continued]
Is the action of Tamil Nadu fishermen justified?
Controversies are coming up continuously on the attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen by the SLN. Those who raise voice for the Tamils in Jaffna are the ones mostly raise voice for the Tamil Nadu fishermen as well. Hence we made an attempt to know the opinions of the Tamils fishermen in Jaffna on the attacks carried out on Tamil Nadu fishermen.
When we met A. Sagayaraja, President of Jaffna Marine Development Association, he said, "there are large numbers of fishes in the Sri Lankan coast. Hence the Tamil Nadu fishermen sail upto Sri Lankan coast for fishing. We had seen the fishing boats of Indian fishermen, from our coast, on many occasions. Both of us could enter the Marine territory of other country within 90 minutes of starting our boats.
"In the past we were scared to do fishing trade due to the fear of war and went to do other jobs. Because of this fact Indian fishermen had dominated our sea areas and were fishing there. However, many of us here have lost several kinds of professions and have come to the fishing trade now. Hence we are forced to tackle the dominance of Indian fishermen now. The Indian fishermen use new technology and sophisticated fishing methods in fishing when compared to us. Hence we find it difficult to overcome them and do fishing.
"There is a ban for using trawler mechanized boats here. However, the Indian fishermen use double nets on the single nets and take away all the fishes. When we went to attend the St. Antony's festival in Katchchativu we made an attempt to talk to the Indian fishermen who visited there. However, they did not attend the talks and returned to India. Both of us are Tamils. We don't know how to approach this issue. It is better if we hold talks with them and allot separate fishing time deadline for them and us to avoid any problems. We are ready to do other jobs for our livelihood during off-fishing season", he said. An outfit called Movement of War Affected People," had carried out a rally for about 600 km in Northern coast of Sri Lanka last year. The above rally was carried out to demand to stop Indian fishermen from doing fishing with the help of double nets.
Some of the fishermen in Jaffna, have questioned "if only GPS equipments are fixed in all the fishing boats of the Indian fishermen and monitor these boats through satellite links, then the truth as to where they do fishing will be exposed. Will the Indian government do it"? they asked.
Who Killed Balachandran?
It may be said that the photos of Balachandran had provoked the pro-Sri Lanka Tamils feelings hidden in Tamil Nadu. Only after this, demonstrations had started in Tamil Nadu. When we asked about this matter to the army officials they said, "it is true that we got the dead body of Balachandran but we don't know who had killed him. Some people accuse the SLA because the SLA attire was seen in one of the photos. The whole world knows the fact that Tigers had used the attire of the SLA on many occasions.
"Moreover in today's digital world photos can be morphed according to our liking. Moreover, "that child was in a bunker surrounded by sand–filled gunny bags" was the only truth revealed by that photograph. It might even be a bunker of the LTTE? Tigers were always prepared to bite cyanide capsules to prevent their arrest by the LSA. Even the Tigers could have taken the decision to make sure that the child should not be nabbed by the army, is it not?
Those, who accuse the SLA that it had shot dead Balachandran mercilessly, should question themselves as to why the army gave biscuits to him before shooting him down. Those, who were so merciless to the extent of killing a child would not have given biscuits for his hungriness, is it not," they question us.
Mostly wrong informations on Sri Lanka are passed to the Tamils in Tamil Nadu. We assume that the members of Tamil Diaspora spread this wrong information through internrt. In this digital world one can do anything using graphics. Killing of nabbed SLA cadres by the LTTE was wrongly campaigned as SLA had killed Tamils. Terrorists can act in any way. However, army cadres of a government have a duty to answer many people in future. Hence the people in Tamil Nadu should not forget the fact that the army cadres cannot act as per their wish" army official said.
V. Ananda Sangaree, MP, former Secretary, TULF, when he was asked to comment on this matter, said, " it is nothing surprising that the death of the child had shattered the Tamils in Tamil Nadu. A child's death is powerful to shatter any human being. However, the same Tamils in Tamil Nadu should also take into account the numbers of children massacred by the LTTE", he said and showed few newspapers which had published the photos of many children killed in the attacks carried out by the LTTE. " W should show the same mercy and sympathy for the deaths of these children as well, is it not?" he questioned.
However, many of the Sri Lankan Tamils too, like the people in Tamil Nadu, had talked about Balachandran death in a moving way. The majority of the people in Sri Lanka feel that SLA was responsible for Balachandran's death. However, his death has not affected them to the same extent in which it had affected the people of Tamil Nadu, since all the Tamil families in Sri Lanka too had lost children like Balachandran. Even Prabhakarn death too did not cause a big impact on them. They are on the verge of a very vexed state to the extent that they treat any death ordinarily.
© THUGLAK, 2013