My Visit to Sri Lanka – Part 3

Includes an appeal to the Tamil Diaspora

Read previous parts of this series of articles : Part One | Part Two

| by Rajasingham Jayadevan

Sea-beach paradise for the dogs.

( January 25, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) On our return journey from Nainativu Islet, we stopped over at Chatty beach near Velani for a refreshing swim. The sea-beach was quiet and tranquil. Except for another family from the United Kingdom, there was no one else on the stretch of the beach, . The calm tranquillity of the sea welcomed us and for nearly one hour, my son and the youngsters had a good time in the sea.
What is noteworthy is that the quiet beach has become a merrymaking site for the local dogs and it was interesting to see how the dogs were enjoying the beach in the absence of humans. Even one dog was seen resting quietly in the shallow sea waves rolling over the beach.
On the very same night, on our return to Jaffna, with the help of one my relatives, we bought a portion of special Urumbirai Pangu (mutton) meat to take to Colombo. In Colombo, the meat in the cooking hands of a Jaffna style specialist, was the best food we had during our visit.

In Anuradhapura
Our return journey to Colombo went without any hiccups. We decided to spend few hours in Anuradhapura and went around the historical city. The city was quiet and very little activities were to be seen. The historical Dagobas, lakes, palace etc., spoke of the city’s strong history but unfortunately there was a sombre feeling due to the lack of people around. The Dagobas in Anuradhapura are surely some of the most exquisite examples of their kind in the world.
Even the dogs and the small monkeys were bony and were not active like the ones in Vavuniya or Southern India. The shops and street stalls were basic. The historical city was clean and some road work was taking place.
One of the Sinhala visitors with whom I acquainted briefly made some comments of annoyance about the events unfolding in the historical city.
Just next to the faded and derelict monument in front of a historical Dagoba, a new tomb had been erected with inscriptions claiming the achievement of President Mahinda Rajapakse defeating of the LTTE. The acquaint went on to say in Sinhala: ‘What? Is he trying to create a new history for this historical dagoba?’ Speaking in Sinhala, he pointed his finger to a large banner further away and said ‘this is where Mahinda wants to build his own new Dagoba but the work has forestalled following opinion received from elders, that going forward with the work would be life threatening for the President’. During the few minutes he spoke to me, he was critical of the cross section of the political divide and expressed his sadness that military victory has not been translated into political accommodation in the country.
In Colombo- Visa Pillaiyar Kovil
The last two days in Colombo was mainly running about meeting with my relatives and friends.
Interestingly, a Hindu temple has come up on the seaside road close to Ramakrishna Road to cater for the worshipping needs of the migrating Sri Lankan community. The name Visa Pillaiyar Kovil by implication tells it all. Those who are yearning to migrate or those who are close to the ones wanting to migrate visit this temple. Though I did not go into the temple, my brief passing-by confirmed temple is active.
An Appeal to the Tamil Diaspora
Having said about my visit in three parts, I will fail if I do not dissect some of the socio-corrupting issues that are haunting the Tamil people in the north – by implication having heavy bearing on the people.

Thirty years of war has degenerated the strong Tamil society and present circumstances is further compounding the relapse. Beyond the deep scars of the war on the people, social evils are plaguing the society that needs to be addressed through serious efforts. The issues are bedevilling the society and there is clear evidence that the Tamil Diaspora can play its role positively and responsibly to correct the situation.
Adverse Influence of Diaspora money
It is seemingly evident from what I heard from people that money transmitted by individuals from the Diaspora to their family members are creating social decay in Jaffna.
Some young school boys and girls are enjoying the luxuries of cell phones, motorcycles and imported alcohol bought from shops with the money received from overseas and are on the spree during school hours. The hyphened activities of these youngsters is said to be the product of the irresponsible Diaspora money that has become the spoiler. The hard earned money in the west of the relatives is creating an unprecedented and uncontrollable culture amongst these youngsters that the Tamil society did not experience in the past.
It is said that the effort of the much criticised Government Agent of Jaffna amongst the Tamil Diaspora, Mrs Imelda Sugumar, has brought controls over mushrooming guest houses in Jaffna to stop them entertaining school children as customers. But youngsters have unlimited abandoned and derelict houses to go on their spree. It is claimed there are under aged pregnancies dealt by the hospital as a result. The parents trusting their daughters and sons that they are attending schools and returning on time are left with the heavy burden and the society too suffers as a result. On occasions when their daughters do not turn up on time, the parents become frantic and go on the search for them.
One elderly acquaint told me that with the control over guest houses, the boys and girls made use of a nearby abandoned derelict property close to his house. The situation had become menacing that it needed intervention. The boys and girls had come in motorbikes with mobile phones, scotch whiskey, cigarettes etc., without attending school. They were once approached and severely warned of the consequences if they continue to enter the derelict premises.
When confronted, one chap had verbally challenged the local resident, demanding why he was interfering unnecessarily. With the lambasting explanation of the social evil they are generating, the youngsters listened to him with their head down and went away – not to be seen again in the vicinity.
The other type of social evil progressed by some Diaspora Tamils too is very worrying. Some young Tamils from overseas have visited the war torn area and have married and lived with the bride for few weeks and disappeared without contacts. The girl’s parents too are so desperate and are wanting their daughters to leave the country to have a settled life overseas. These girls are falling prey to this evil minded sex predators from overseas. These innocent girls are told heaven is waiting for them by the visiting grooms. After few weeks of fun following the wedding, the girls are abandoned and left behind. Some of them even have become pregnant.
This is the typical situation facing the Sikh community of Punjab in India, where dubious Punjabi men from overseas take large amount of dowry to marry and abandon them after few weeks.
Selling properties
The end of the war has created the atmosphere for the Diaspora Tamils to sell their properties in Sri Lanka and pack their bags for good from the country of their birth. It is a buyer’s market in the north at present. Even some properties are sold at desperately meagre price. In the war torn area, there is an abundance of unclaimed and abandoned properties and the fear of returning to Sri Lanka due to the human rights situation is creating further detachment.
There are rogue property sellers all around Jaffna peninsula. Their expertise is such that they sell a property in multiples. During my brief stay in Jaffna, I came across three deeds being created by a rogue former banker and each innocent victim is an unfortunate victim to this unscrupulous predator. I was told that this former banker had done many such rogue deals. He first approaches the due owner to taunt him to get as much information as possible to prepare fraudulent deeds for the new buyers.
Conclusion
Despite the adversities faced, I found that Tamil people are still resilient. With the heavy presence of the military resembling a occupied state and facing adversities on all fronts, they are pulling through with hardship.
The Tamil Diaspora has to come forward to meet their urgent social needs and such efforts are taking some momentum in the Diaspora but unfortunately it is inadequate. Even the established Nuffield School for the Deaf and Blind in Kaithady is struggling to cope, due to the lack of resources and the ever increasing demands for their service from the community.
Heavy interference of the EPDP paramilitary group in the day to day affairs in Jaffna is another worrying factor that the government needs to urgently attend to. This paramilitary group is enjoying the support of the government for the mere reason of helping to defeat the LTTE. When I met a victim of the LTTE who was held captive for many months, he too was critical of this group and expressed his displeasure that the group has placed its men in the Jaffna Secretariat of the GA, Mrs Imelda Sugumar, and that they are heavily interfering in her work.
Though the government is appealing to the Diaspora to invest in the North and East, it has not taken the meaningful step of political reconciliation and demilitarisation of the North and East. Responding to the government appeal is very risky, as the country has not responded legislatively to prevent anti-Tamil violence in the future that has historically caused colossal harm to the Tamils.
It is my belief that Sri Lanka is still not prepared to deal with anti-Tamil violence as the political climate is very volatile that a mad incident will revisit the calamity that inflicted Tamils in the past.
Concluded.

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Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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