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Mihintalava - The Birthplace of Sri Lankan Buddhist Civilization

Restarting the educational flame in the North

Not many, even among the older generation of Lankans, are likely to easily recall, C. E. Anandarajah, the Principal of St. John's College, Jaffna, who was brutally gunned-down by the LTTE on June 26, 1985.

This cold-blooded murder of an educationist of repute who only meant well by organising a cricket match between members of the Sri Lanka Army in Jaffna and Northern youngsters, marked the first occasion the LTTE cruelly snuffed out the life of a Northern intellectual.

Another Northern intellectual of great repute who met with a similar fate was Dr. Rajini Thiranagama, who worked courageously and enthusiastically for the rights of the Tamil people.

It is encouraging to learn that 20 years after his untimely death, some of C. E. Anandarajah's former pupils and one-time close associates have initiated moves to perpetuate his edifying memory. One such commemorative event has already taken place in Toronto, Canada, and on the opposite page we carry a detailed report of this event.

As some observers have rightly pointed out, these horrific killings, besides stunning the more conscience-endowed and articulate sections of the Tamil community into silence, have led to a steady exodus of educated Tamils from the North-East to the West, thereby leading to a relentless impoverishment of the Tamil community in intellectual and cultural terms.

Besides, such mindless terror has led to the crippling of some of the most well-known educational institutions of the North-East. Those colleges of the North of venerable antiquity, such as St. John's College, St. Patrick's College and Hartley College, for example, are capable of contributing much more to the educational and cultural life of this country but are stymied by the bloody hand of the LTTE.

These developments prove quite adequately the LTTE's zest for power and power only. It would even compromise the well-being of the Tamil people in this hungry quest for power.

This is a great pity because the North-East has possessed and still possesses educational institutions which are second to none in this country. In times past, students from even Southern Sri Lanka flocked to these centres of learning on account of their rare repute. Some of these students went on to occupy high public office in the land and the name of the former Speaker of Parliament K. B. Ratnayake and that of former Minister, Maithripala Senanayake, come easily to mind.

The North-East suffered even more grievously when the 1983 race riots broke out and just prior to this catastrophe, the hallowed Jaffna Public Library was put to the torch by vandals let loose by the then UNP administration. Thus even at that time the UNP seemed to be making common cause with the LTTE.

The educational setbacks thus suffered by the Tamil people are enormous and it is up to the Lankan State to set things right in this sphere. We call on the authorities to lay the basis for an educational rejuvenation in the North-East. May the people's peace hopes come true.

The UNP should lend a helping hand in this endeavour by collaborating with the State, rather than engaging in vulgar street shows which will take Lanka nowhere.



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