“I met this Sinhala doctor…nice Buddhist gentlema..He said, he went every morning for one hour meditation. Why? I asked. He said meditation in the morning soothes the mind…whole day he feels peaceful in mind…Good, I said..Then he asks me, why you man you go to Jaffna? You help our people…in the South…he tells me..My god, I thought…I told him Tamil people also need help..they don’t have food…no water and electricity…always curfew..no schools now…very helpless, very bad situation……and this doctor..after morning meditation told me…no, that problem we are solving…our army will finish them..we are winning the war this time…Oooh-h-h ! I said.”
The German Aid worker, Schabarum, if I remember his name right, who told me about this very pious, meditating, medical doctor, had been called to Colombo by the German Embassy about two weeks ago, as the German government feels the situation ‘up North’ is not conducive for its citizens to work any more.
“Why not ?” I asked him. “Our government says everything’s under control”
No smiles, no anger, just pity. And this is what he started off with, and what others from Jaffna who survived a long awaited journey to Colombo, had to say about Jaffna.
Eighteen months ago, when he first set foot in Jaffna, the army was on the roads, visible, but who cared? The trip along the A – 9 road, which is also called the Kandy – Jaffna road, had been quite enjoyable. There was queuing up at Omanthai, where the Sri Lankan security forces checked up with documents, but, it was only routine. Then one day about ten months ago, in the heart of Jaffna town, an army truck ran over an eight year old school girl. The school children came on the streets and pandemonium it was. It was anger let loose. Pent up anger. Fiery, scorching and wild.
The trip on the A-9 is no more. Its closed for all, for all goods and even to humanitarian aid. A coconut now, is around 85 to 100 rupees. A packet of milk powder is more precious than gold and never sold as a packet. A 100 gm handful is 150 rupees or more. Wheat flour and sugar is just as much, if available. A loaf of bread needs a 04 hour stay in a queue at the Multi-purpose Co-op. But where is the money ? Out of a population of about 500,000 left destitute in the Jaffna peninsula, about 200,000 are either fishermen or live off the fishing trade. But going out to sea is forbidden and that makes paupers out of once proud men. The ordinary labourer has no work either. Electricity is provided an hour a day. No guarantee of buses on the roads and most groceries are closed. Schools are closed too because children can not be fed before leaving home.
A news paper reported about a feeble elderly man snatching away the much toiled for parcel of 200 gm of milk powder and 300 gm of sugar from an equally feeble woman. His story was pathetic. A labourer from Annaicotte, he has no work, but 05 children to feed. He had not had a meal for two days, himself. The elderly woman was equally bad, but, they had shared the parcel.
There are over 2,000 families, those who have some connection in Colombo, registered to leave the peninsula, But the SL Navy ship accommodates only about 15 to 20 people on a single fortnightly journey from KKS to Trincomalee. A chance some could afford to buy, if they can throw out 5,000 to 6,000 rupees.
In Colombo, the wealthy Tamil businessmen and traders go missing, all too suddenly. Some are yet missing, but there are those who re-appeared from remote towns off Polonnaruwa. Often a heavy ransom is negotiated by the family for the dear life abducted. Back home, they are glued to death and unable to speak.
No victim or their dependents officially complaining, the government has no human rights issue to investigate. But concerned organisations and groups demand investigations. Appointing a single retired judge as a Commission, with no legal authority or proper mandate, and wants information from victims who bought their life to climb down from the cross, covers the government�s responsibility for now.
For those who meditate, the war would nevertheless be won, never mind the carnage that would be left, there after.