by Tamizh Prabakaran
Translated by L.Annadoure
[ Understandably Maha.Tamizh Prabakaran is a Mechanical Engineer turned journalist hailing from Tamil Nadu. The Junior Vikadan Weekly Magazine has conferred on him the best journalist award. He has travelled across Sri Lanka and he wrote his experiences under the caption ‘Puli Thadam Thedi’ in Junior Vikaden Magazine in serial and his travelogue came to be published in a book form too.TamilWin.com has posted the articles in its web site and the first part appeared on 26.12.2012. Tamizh Prabakaran who while visiting Sri Lanka for second time has been arrested on 26.12.2013 at Girange, Kilinochi District along with Member of Parliament Mr.Sridharan, provincial council member and another on the ground that he has violated the imigration rules by taking photos of place of military importance but the reality of the matter is that he has taken photo of worst state of interior roads in Girange, Kilinochi District when in fact the Government would boast of having laid and constructed National High Ways which are being used by only less than 10% of the population. Through these National High ways which have been constructed with the borrowed money do not flow milk and honey and such of the roads are meant only to show case to the World of alleged structural development with an ulterior motive. Therefore it is deemed necessary to post his articles so that the public would come to know about the ground realities of the present day North and East, Sri Lanka.]
( January 3, 2014 – Chennai – Sri Lanka Guardian)‘This is the place where the removing of the land mines is going on, of which you have required information’, said the driver of the bus in his usual way. But, I felt a sudden explosion in my eyes. How many lives have been lost in this place!
After starting my journey from Kilinochi and while crossing over Paranthan point, I felt vacuousness in my heart. Going all along on the left of the Road is the only way to reach Mullaitheevu. The Bus has stopped at ‘Sinna Uppalam’ area.
There is a Restaurant at the place where I have alighted from the bus. There is an air of militariness about the restaurant which is being run by the Army.
The Army which has come to occupy the places where the tigers have set their foot is infested with land mines and the Army is standing with their weapons in all readiness! I am walking on the accident prone A 9 road by posing a painful question to me as to for whom the land mines are still kept there.
The work of removing the land mines are going on. The Sri Lankan Government assigns all jobs and works to Sinhalese people but it does engage only Tamils to do these kind of dangerous jobs.
A slight deviation or a small distraction of attention from the work will ensue death. As I have begun to move forward I have taken picture of the workers engaged in the dangerous job. At the far end, I could see a tent. On a closer look at the place I see the presence of military men there.
I am looking around the place where I stand. It is a sandy place. At the horizon I could see a large expanse of water and a war monument.
No one is present there. I have decided to walk through road which is passing across water and I would have walked only a little distance when I see a bus coming along in my direction. I got into the bus.
Within a few minutes the bus reached the Sinhalese war monument. It is 9.30 AM in the morning. I am the only person present there. The military men are unloading the weapons from the Military tempo vehicle. All attention of the military men is focusing on me .
Who are you?, asked a voice.
‘I am a tourist’ said I composedly.
Thereafter the military men have granted me permission to proceed further by just making signs with their hands. Exactly at this juncture a van came there and from the van alighted some 30 Sinhalese tourists and I have joined them.
Three military men who while speaking on their cell phones are going along with us.
Like the Sinhalese tourists who took photo of the war triumphal monument I have also taken photo of it. The military men are explaining something to them.
I requested them to explain to me either in Tamil or English of what the military men have been saying to the Sinhalese tourists.
The military men answered that they know only Sinhalese.
One of the Sinhalese tourists said to me in English pertaining what the soldier has explained to the tourists, “This monument reminds one of the recovery of the lands from the tigers who have been occupying our land. Here our soldiers have made a great sacrifice and saved our land from the tigers.
We have redeemed our land. You all have come over here from Southern part of Sri Lanka. This is a dangerous place and you should not go off the road. Unexploded bombs are buried there .”
My eyes are reading the wordings inscribed on the war monument : ‘In the name of people, the Honourable Mahinda Rajapakshe who bore arms for the benefit of this land and under whose commandership, under the leadership and coordination of Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakshe and on the contribution made by all armed forces initiating military action against tigers for unification of North and South this monument has been installed’
The aforementioned three military men are coming towards me. They begin to question me. They have jotted down my answers. As the two military men who bidding adieu to the other military man by saying ‘O.K.Machan’, have been leaving the place and the third Military man has remained there standing beside me.
After passage of a few minutes, the said two military men are returning and they are approaching towards me once again. ‘Come on, We will talk’, said they. Slowly I begin to perceive that the trend of the conversion is tending towards a rigorous interrogation. They have taken me to the military canteen.
‘Wait a while. Our Army Major will come’, said they.
‘Why should I meet him’, parried I to their order.
‘He wanted to see you’ said they sarcastically, teasingly and in anger.
Here are seven army men surrounding and hovering over me. Then two police men have just started recording the information about me. I am being kept in custody for more than one hour. When I went for toilet they kept me under observation.
Some one who intruded at this juncture has questioned me thus: Have you gone to Mullivaikkal? Have you seen the place of death of Prabakaran at Nandhi Kadal and questioning me thus he left the place.
After elapse of half an hour, a military Jeep has come to the place from Kilinochi side. While the officer and his four of his subordinates are getting down from the Jeep, two other military men have followed the jeep in a moped .
Then the interrogation has commenced. The questions are in English.
Where are you from and what is the purpose of your visit?
‘I have come from Tamil Nadu as a tourist’.
What is the reason for choosing Sri Lanka as the place of your visit?
‘What should I say...the Lonely Planet web site has listed 10 countries as tourist destinations and I have chosen Sri Lanka as my place of visit since the expenses which I would incur for the travel would be less’, I simply said so.
When have you come..... what is the job which you are doing?
‘I have come over here on the 13th November. I am engaged in research.’
What are the other places which you have visited already in Sri Lanka?
‘While I have been saying that I have visited the Dutch fort and Murugan Temple at Jaffna, one military officer reached for my cell phone saying that it is nice cell phone and I must say that he has almost snatched it from me.
‘You can go to any part of our country. In order to know about you We are bound to pose these questions. Why have come alone? They have questioned me once again.
‘I am certain I have answered your question already’, said I.
The officer who questioned me has left the place and he is seen briefing his higher officer in Sinhalese. Some 40 minutes have elapsed. They have photographed me. The military men who have come on the moped have started questioning me. They are meticulously scrutinizing my passport. They found my name mentioned as Thamizh Prabakaran.
‘Your name is Thamizh Prabakaran and that too you have come all alone’ said they.
‘While speaking about me you are talking amongst yourselves in Sinhalese. Please Speak in a language which we both are familiar with. I am your guest. You are interrogating me as though I am terrorist’
The military office spoke to the policemen in Sinhalese thus: ‘When we suspect any one we will arrest him. There is no necessity on our part to inform you at all.’
I could perceive that there is a difference of opinion between the military and the police in launching criminal action against me. The military officer who while being in contact with his higher officer, the police men have started reasoning out with me of their precarious position and they said: ‘although there is nothing suspicious about you we cannot do anything in defiance of military people. They are threatening us.
Foreigners should not take photo of the place. The military is looking at you suspiciously because you have come all alone. The higher officer has directed us to arrest you. He is conversing with you freely in English but he gives orders for your arrest in Sinhalese.’
‘We will take tea and talk, come on’, said the CID officer who is the person who has intruded himself at the beginning. ‘How could I believe you after I have been interrogated hours together when in fact I have been given permission to proceed?’, questioned I.
Without much ado the CID officer has just left me. He is sharing the information with somebody else. Once again they have obtained from me the particulars of the place of my stay in Sri Lanka and all of a sudden the officer has directed me to go along with him.
Then, I rose up and began to walk forward. The army major who interrogated me has been watching me till I boarded a bus.
Two things do continue to cause fright in the military and the police to this day which are any reference to tigers and the Camera. Perhaps that is the reason why that the entire army has made the Tamils’ lands as their place of abode.
Of the Sri Lankan Army comprising of 5 Lakhs Sinhalese troops, nearly 80% of them are being stationed there to guard against the Tigers in the Eelam land.
Being prone to Camera fear, I who am a Tamilian and an Indian National have been detained by the Army for more than 3 hours and I have been subjected to interrogation twice.
In all reality, all the Tamils living here appear being kept in detention and subjected to interrogation all through the 24 hours in this fashion.
Poosa prison is a most dangerous internment camp in Sri Lanka. This is the prison where Tamils are being incarcerated for over a period of 20 years without observing the provisions of law and procedure. No aggrieved mother could say with certainty that her son is being imprisoned there because it is so dark a dungeon and nothing could be known pertaining it.
Another dangerous place in Sri Lanka is the Sri Lankan Army’s 4th Floor. It is a place where people are taken there for interrogation, tortured and then slowly killed. It is a killing field.
These two places have not drawn the attention of the public and conscience of the world as it really should have been. To speak the truth, the entire Eelam land appears to be killing fields.
Four or five Tamils cannot assemble peacefully and they will be watched out and would be eyed suspiciously. Their relations coming to see them from next village have to register themselves necessarily and seek permission from the Army and on the grant of permission alone they might be able to enter the village.
Like wise, people who come over here from abroad to see their relations and their lands are subjected to a roving interrogation before the grant of permission.
I tell you of a scene at Kilinochi. The Tamil devotees there are going on a procession in all piety and religiosity and it is understandable if the military and police have come there for the purpose of according protection to the votaries. But what one sees there is the presence of more heads of Military men and police men than of the heads of votaries themselves.
Even when the Tamil devotees happen to congregate in the name of their deities the Army sees them as mere tigers. There still prevails tense and emergent situation. There is no freedom of movement, no freedom to seek their livelihood, no freedom to act independently.
Eelam Tamils appear to have been bound tight by an invisible rope. Their lands where they have roamed freely have been converted into tourist places by the Sri Lankan Government.
The Eelam land is being bereft of its pride of place and denuded of its identity owing to the installation of war monuments and memorials eulogising the very quelling and conquest of the tigers , establishment Sri Lankan military camps reminding one of alleged valour and courage, springing up of Temples in praise of Buddha, construction of military guest houses as a dearth of Eelam Tamils themselves having been wiped out from their lands!
Before I reached Elephant pass, I spent a day in Colombo and it is from where I have started my journey.
Sincere Thanks to Tamilwin.com