My Visit to Sri Lanka - Part 2

| by Rajasingham Jayadevan

Rapid transformation of Kilinochchi

( January 17, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Further to Omanthai checkpoint, one could see housing estates being built with Indian and Australian funding.

Vibrant Kilinochchi is going through a rapid transformation since the end of the war in Sri Lanka. This one time capital of the LTTE that symbolised the group’s activities is no longer there. The shops and various offices of the LTTE reflecting heavy grammatical Tamil names have disappeared. The two famous restaurants that sold inventive tasty foods like Mithi Vedi pie (Landmine shape curried pie) and the indigenous special ice cream are not in sight.

The Kilinochchi town heavily symbolises the war victories of the government forces that has overridden monuments that LTTE erected during its rule. The shattered remains of the large water tank that was flattened to the ground by the retreating LTTE men has been ring fenced and portrayed to show the dastardly deeds of the group.

The LTTE made bulldozer is displayed on the roadside depicting the heroic courage of a dead soldier of his sole effort of suicide bombing. The bulldozer had gone on a mission to the Elephant Pass army camp to cause devastation, but was instead disabled in a spontaneous suicide attack by the said young soldier of the army.

It is quite evident that the people are moving around amidst the heavy presence of the army.

The famous Murugandi stop point for worship for a safe journey is still vibrant. The much deterred hero worshiping site of LTTE’s Col Thileepan placed next to the famous temple has been removed.

Elephant pass and further to Jaffna town

There was an elementary checking at the Elephant Pass causeway that only involved the driver of our vehicle. As we entered Palai area, crownless Palmyra trees standing amidst the stretches trees are visible evidence of war that progressed not very long ago. Compared to what I saw since early 2000 during my visits, the crownless palm trees are progressively declining due to natural causes of weather and resultant decay.

The road work is visibly fast tracked in intermittent blocks on the A9 road until Navatkuli.

Military victory monuments built following the defeat of the LTTE in the Tamil areas give unpleasant feeling as these are not constructed in Southern Sri Lanka in the parallel scale- an issue that is innermost causing an unpleasant feeling for the Tamils.

Chavakachcheri, the mini town that faced the ravages of the war, is proving to be emerging out from the ashes and showing all the signs of unprecedented infrastructural development and economic activities.

The Chemmani road from Navatkuli is redone and roads beyond Navatkuli to Jaffna through Chundikili and all other roads in the inner perimeter to the Jaffna city are in a pathetic state. There was no evidence of any work undertaken and the roads are in an appalling state.

The city of Jaffna is bustling and is attempting to overcome the depredation of the war. Except for the busy Stanley Road, all roads in and around the Jaffna city limits, are in a dilapidated state.

I witnessed the historical Dutch Fort that was pounded by the LTTE firing and desecration is said to be reconstructed with Dutch government funding. Heavy earth digging machineries are being used to restore the fort to its original position.

Our visit to Nainative islet

During my school days, I have cycled through with my schoolmates on the Pannai causeway and gone on fishing expeditions with rudimentary fishing rods in the lagoon. Abundance of fish in the lagoon made us succeed once when we caught half a dozen of Mural fish.

The drive through the causeway brought back all the memories of cycling through Allaipiddy to Chatty beach.

Some road work is being carried out to broaden and re-tar the Pannai Road to the islets. But the work is not in the scale of the A9 road work. Soon after the heavy rains, the Jaffna lagoon was full of water and the green patches gave us the real sight of beauty.

As we proceeded through Velanai and Pungudutivu, I felt saddened that many properties remained abandoned and are in a derelict state. There was little movement of people. The Valanai town is a skeletal remain, whilst Pungudutivu appeared to be a ghost island. The vibrant and energetic Pungudutivu community is no longer there and it appears they have given up hope to engage with their birth place as many of them have migrated and are preoccupied with their business expertise that they are famous for.

Of the two jetties available to enter the islet of Nainativu, the driver opted for the Buddhist Nagadeepa Vihara entry point. The boat ride was semi-primitive and the roaring petrol bustling boat took this entry point. My thoughts compared with the wide sea surface of the historical Cochin bay in India. Comparatively, the massive lagoon area is unparallel and is of tremendous potential if Sri Lanka adopt a political path of good governance and the wider political accommodation of the minorities to progress a vibrant economy around the islets.

When we walked through the jetty and entered the Naga Vigara, we were welcomed by a large cut-out of President Mahinda Rajapakse. Such portrayal in a religious worship place put me off but we went around the temple premises and the place remained tranquil except for the irritation of political portrayal in the Vihara. In the Vihara we also saw a display of photographs of political and military figureheads.

We walked through to Nagapoosani Ambal temple where we saw unprecedented reconstruction work taking place. The temple with colourful multi goburams is getting ready for the auspicious Kumaba Abishegam. My chat with the priests confirmed that the temple is able to come out of its financial difficulties with the help of the local and the diaspora Pungudutivu people. Also worshippers too have increased following the end of the war.

We exited from the Nagapoosani Ambal kovil jetty to Pungudutivu.

To be concluded with visit to Anuradhapura and socio-political and assessment of the visit……