Jayadevan has no Moral Right to Challenge Minister Devananda

"On my return journey, as requested, I met Minister Devananda and had the opportunity for a lengthy discussion. During that discussion we were able to touch on many issues, in spite of number of telephone calls that interrupted our conversation. He told me about the LTTE atrocities, the missed opportunity of Indo Lanka Accord, the untold sufferings of the common masses and the intriguing story of his re-incarnation (after an attempt on his life by the LTTE in Kalutura)."

by S. T. A. Pillai

(November 24, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) I am neither an EPDP supporter nor a foe of Jeyadevan. I do not subscribe to the political policies of EPDP or its leader Minister Douglas Devananda. I was a Government servant, left Sri Lanka in the early nineties and living comfortably in United Kingdom since then. I am a silent spectator of the political happenings in Sri Lanka. Daily I browse through all the websites on Sri Lankan affairs, anxious to know what is happening in my home country.

The “war of words” going on between Mr. Rajasingam Jayadevan and Dr. Tellipallai C Rajaratnam about Minister Douglas Devananda in the Sri Lanka Guardian in recent times has compelled me to brake my silence and speak out of my conscience. I have a rationale to do so, which I will endeavour to expound in the paragraphs below.

It was in February 2001, I got a call from a relative of mine in Colombo that he got a message from my sister in Jaffna that doctors had given up hope on my ailing mother and that she was anxious to see me before her last breath; her only son out of four daughters. I knew there was a defence ministry clearing system in force in Sri Lanka at that time for anybody to fly between Colombo and Jaffna and that it would take about two to three weeks to get the clearance. I also heard that money can expedite things in Sri Lanka.

I landed in Colombo with my wife by the earliest available flight and received by my relative at the airport. While we were in the car on our way to Wellawatte, my relative told me that the commercial flights to Jaffna had been temporarily halted due to some repair work being carried out at Ratmalana airport runway. We were furious and requested him as to why he had not notified us of this before we left for Sri Lanka. His gentle reply was he came to know of it late. In the same breath he gave as a ray of hope by saying ‘but, there is a way out, if you can meet Minister Douglas Devananda and explain him of your position he would be able to help you’. Devananda of EPDP?, my wife said it over, inquisitive to know whether he was referring to the same person. How can he help if there were no flights, I intervened. There are Air force Flights, if the Minister recommends, they would oblige for emergency reasons. I whispered to my relative ‘then we will have to part with money’, a question I posed in conformity with what I had heard about EPDP in UK. No these are all false propaganda carried out by those opposed to him in foreign countries. They do not take anything in return for what they do. Our people who live with all comforts in foreign countries do not understand what is happening here. My relative continued with lot of praise about Minister Devananda throughout our journey up to Wellawatte. But, my conscience refused to accept what my relative was telling, because I had heard a lot in UK about EPDP wrong doings, and my mindset instantaneously rebuffed my relative’s revelation. On our way somewhere in Kollupitiya, he pointed to a building on the seaside and said ‘this is the office of Devananda, if we go there tomorrow we can see him’.

That night before we went to sleep my wife was repeating the question to me curiously as to whether I had decided to see Minister Devananda. Her curiosity arose out of many reasons. Whether we can meet a Minister by walking into the office; even if we meet him whether he would be eager to help us because we have had no previous connection with him; and above all we were scared to see a man of horrifying tales. Finally we settled to see him the following morning, because we had no other option.

As planned we walked into the office of the Minister the following day. At the reception we were asked as to whether we got an appointment to see him. We said no, and explained the reason we wanted to see him. Then after filling a form with our details and purpose they told us to sit in a waiting area. In the waiting area I was astonished to see large number of people, most of them appears to be Tamils, seated to see a person who was supposed to have committed many wrong doings against them. I was inquisitive to know why such a large gathering was there to see such an infamous person. Slowly I posed the question to the person seated next to me as to why he was waiting to see the Minister. His answer gave me an astounding shock. He was a Hindu priest and praised Minister Devananda more than the deities he worships daily. Tears were flowing when he narrated all the sufferings he had as a result of conscription of his daughter by the LTTE, the loss of his entire livelihood as a result of ongoing conflict, and how Minister Devananda helped him out of difficult situation.

Within the one hour time I waited in the waiting area I was able to speak with many of the persons over there. The net result of my conversation is that almost all of them in an unequivocal voice expressed the view that Minister Devananda was the only person who was caring for them and helping them in their hour of need. Every one of them had a long story behind them. All what was stored in my mind about Devananda and EPDP started to wither away little by little, as I went on conversing with each and every one.

When our turn came, after a brief security check, we were taken in to see the Minister. He greeted us in Tamil ‘Vannakam’ and signalled to take a seat. After inquiring into the purpose of our visit to see him, he started to talk to us in a friendly manner as if we were known to each other for years. I had the opportunity to talk to him for about ten minutes and within those ten minutes I saw a person with concern over the suffering of follow humans, a person willing to care for the wellbeing of follow humans, and a person committed to serve those in dire need. I saw a person in contrast to what I have heard through the propaganda organs of the expatriates. All the fear I had about Devananda instantly vanished out of my mind.

After the brief conversation he told me to go along with one of his assistants, an elderly gentleman, and said that he would do the needful. He whispered something to his assistant, possibly the cause of action to be taken with regard to our request. When we said ‘ Nantry’ (thank you) and left his chamber he said ‘phone me and come and see me before you go back to London’ and gave me his visiting card. Having told my wife and relative to wait in the waiting area, his assistant took me to his office room. He took brief details about me and my wife and the urgency to travel to Jaffna and drafted a letter in my presence and handed over for typing. While seated in front of his office desk I started to chat and posed the formal question. Howe long have you been in the Government service ?, was my first question. ‘I was a Government servant, retired and working for Minister. ‘We all are his personal staff’, pointing to about six or seven people seated in raw and a few computer operators, was his reply. He continued ‘we are attending to all sorts of issues brought to the notice of the Minister by our people, most of the issues are related to Government offices, you could have seen the number of people waiting downstairs’. While we were chatting the typist finished the letter and brought it back to him. The letter was put into a file and sent for the signature of the Minister in my presence. With that he said ‘when we receive the approval we will telephone you, then you can proceed’. With those considerate words we left that office.

In my 20 years of carrier in the Government service in Sri Lanka, and my 15 years of living in London I have never come across such courteous, swift and efficient attendance and service. While I was in the car on our way to Wellawatte, I recalled my memories way back in early nineties, in Jaffna before I left for UK. I recalled the number of days I stood in queue in front of the LTTE office in Kondavil in burning hot sun to get a pass to leave Jaffna. The way the teens in that office, with AK’s in their shoulder, questioned and treated us without any respect even to our age.

The following day around 11 am, I got a call from the Minister’s office to say that we got the approval of the Ministry of Defence to fly by Air Force flight the following day on payment of applicable fees at the airport and to call over and collect the approval in person. Thus, not only I was able to see my ailing mother, but was privileged to be on her bedside when she breathed her last, an opportunity rarely a person will get. Till I die I will be grateful to Mr. Devananda for what he had done to me, to a person previously totally unknown to him.

On my return journey, as requested, I met Minister Devananda and had the opportunity for a lengthy discussion. During that discussion we were able to touch on many issues, in spite of number of telephone calls that interrupted our conversation. He told me about the LTTE atrocities, the missed opportunity of Indo Lanka Accord, the untold sufferings of the common masses and the intriguing story of his re-incarnation (after an attempt on his life by the LTTE in Kalutura). Most of the things were new to me and previously unheard – which the propaganda machinery of the LTTE has masqueraded to be unheard by the expatriates. I realised the darkness on which I lived all those years reading and listening only to the propaganda arm of the LTTE, sidelining all others as traitors.

These are my brief experience with Minister Douglas Devananda. Coming to the theme of this article “Rajasingham Jayadevan Vs. Dr. Tellipallai C. Rajaratnam”, I do not know the veracity of the facts referred to in the articles written by Dr. Rajaratnam (SLG of 09.11.08 & 13.11.08) about Minister Devananda. But I know one thing, which I wish to spell out very clearly; Jeyadevan has no moral right to challenge Minister Devananda.

Mr. Jeyadevan, I too am living in London, I know how you faithfully and diligently supported and helped to strengthen the LTTE mafia activities in UK. By being its staunch supporter you are not only responsible for all the notorious acts of the LTTE in UK, but, answerable for all their atrocious conduct in Sri Lanka as well. It was the money collected by you and people like you in the name of Temples and Community services in UK and other western World that gave strength and stimuli for the LTTE to commit all its atrocities. It was when the LTTE found that you were stockpiling more into your pocket than to LTTE that they tried to strip you of all your social holdings.

Your enlightenment today about LTTE is not out of self realisation, but because the LTTE have put its hand into your wallet. You used all your clout to stop banning the LTTE in UK and today you are shedding crocodile tears. It was only after the LTTE entrapped you by offering you a chance to worship the ‘Suriyadevan’ (Sun God – as the Tiger supremo is known), you have realised it is not ‘Suriyadevan’ but it is the ‘Yamadevan’ (God of death). Had you been given a chance to worship the ‘Suriyadevan’ on 8th January 2006, instead of incarcerating you, and ‘Suriyadevan’ patted on your shoulders, you would have been the heir to Anton Balasingham today.

Mr. Jeyadevan, please refrain from mudslinging on Minister Devananda, a man of high esteem. He is the only Tamil leader today living amongst the sufferers, hearing their grievances and caring for them. He is not doing politics by issuing statements to press, or by writing articles living in the comforts of the western World. He is living with the people for the people amidst immense threat to his live. Allow him to carry on with his service uninterrupted.
- Sri Lanka Guardian