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Canada remembers slain Jaffna St. John's principal, Anandarajah, after a lapse of 20 years

It has been 20 years since Jaffna St. Johns College principal, C.E. Anandarajah was shot and killed by the LTTE in the broad daylight. His valuable life ended on the 26th of June 1985, in Jaffna. He was the first Tamil intellectual to be killed by the LTTE.

Late Anandaraja’s commemorative meeting was held yesterday at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre chaired by Ragunathan, with Namu Ponnampalam, T. Mahendran, M. Davidson and Kevin Shimin as speakers.

After the lapse of two decades, courageous old boys of St. John's College living in Canada decided to commemorate the death of their famous principal Anandarajah at the Scarborough Village Recreation Centre, Toronto.

The meeting was held yesterday chaired by Ragunathan, one of the old boys of St. John's College. Namu Ponnampalam, T.Mahendran, M.Davidson and Kevin Shimin addressed the gatherings.

Late Anandarajah's family members were also present at the well-attended commemoration meeting. The meeting commenced with Mrs. Anandarajah offering flowers and lighting the candle at the portrait of her late husband.

All the speakers remembered Anandarajah in many memorable ways. Ragunathan gave a brief introduction after which Namu Ponnampalam spoke about Anandarajah recalling that his father Late V.Ponnampalam and Anandarajah were classmates at the Madras Christian College. He said that he knew him as his father's friend and later as his college principal.

Namu Ponnampalam related a story to demonstrate Anandarajah's quality as a very strict disciplinarian. "What he practised 20 years ago was also a type of 'Joint Mechanism,' about which we are talking so much nowadays," reminded Namu Ponnampalam. "If what principal Anandarajah did in 1985 was a crime, then those who are for the Joint Mechanism today can be accused of the same crime," Namu Ponnampalam pointed out.

He decried that there is no justifiable killing or unjustifiable killing, and he castigated that killings should not be either tolerated or condoned.

"Although we do not have the power to prevent the killings but we should be courageous enough not to condone but to condemn the killings," he pointed out.

When Mahendran spoke, he highlighted Anandrajah's handsome personality in the national dress and his character. He told the crowd how the principal used to help the poor students and how he got involved in their personal problems and try resolving it for them.

Mahendran recalled that Anandarajah always had the best interests of the students at heart. During the 1983 riots when refugees were pouring from the South by ships and those displaced students from the South needed to continue their education, he made makeshift classrooms and accommodated those children in the extended classrooms as he was interested in educating the Tamil community. Finally he gave his life for the cause, Mahendran lamented.

Mahendran also reminded that the Tamil community should be ashamed for to have maintained silence when Anandarajah was killed. He said that one of the main reasons for the continuous killings till today is because the Tamil people did not protest the killing 20 years ago. He apologised to the crowd as he too was also member of the Tamil community that remained silent 20 years ago.

Davidson in his address said of Anandarajah's contribution in educating the students politically was great, "Although he did not believe that the students should be involved in politics." Davidson continued, "when students approached him to ask for his advice; he had sat with them in his office and listened to the grievances patiently before trying to figure out their problems and find solutions for them."

Davidson further pointed out that when the White Paper on Education was introduced during J R Jayewardene's time, many principals and educationists were against it, as they were very scared to come forward and express their objection fearing Government's reprisals.

But he told the crowd that Anandarajah came forward courageously and attended the meeting held at the Veerasingam Hall and expressed his view publicly. "This he did because he was very concerned of the future of the Tamil students", Davidson said.

Davidson further said, "Later when the Tamils came to Jaffna during the riots of 1983, he sent his student associations and other associations to help the refugees who arrived at the Kanakesanthurai harbour by ship."

Davidson pointed out that it was ironical for the Tigers to hobnob with the armed forces now as they killed Anandrajah for organising a cricket match with the Sri Lankan army. He told the crowd how Kittu the then LTTE commander in Jaffna feted Captain Kotalawala and later used him as the signatory for his all countries passport to go to London for treatment.

The speaker revealed how Anton Balasingam wined and dined at the Anurahdapura army camp recently on his way to Vanni.

The LTTE in Amaparai organised a sports meet, where the Special task force personnel officiated as referees. By killing educationist like Anandarajah, Thiranagama and assaulting the Hartley College principal the Tigers have made many selfless educationists flee the country causing irreparable damage of the Tamil areas.

In concluding his address Davidson said that one day the Tamils in Sri Lanka will become courageous and erect statues of Anandarajah and Dr. Rajani Thirnagama where they were shot and killed by the Tamil Tigers.

The human rights activist Kevin lamented about the deteriorating human right situation in Sri Lanka as he had spent some time in Sri Lanka after the war.

He said these killings are committed by people who do not have any value for love, dignity and human rights.



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