Finding a workable solution
The whole country in each district and region witnessed an
unprecedented rejoicing after the victory over a terrorist group that
had dogged all efforts at finding an acceptable political solution to
the national problem though most leaders of the country from as far back
as 1956 made their own efforts to resolve it in different methods.
Each of our leaders were agreed that the Tamil people had some
grievances but a dialogue or consensus on many issues like the official
language did never reach a conclusive settlement. Many different shades
of political opinion and theories only ramified the problem leading
finally to an organized attempt to destabilize the country, instill fear
into the minds of the general public and put on a prevarication that
there could be no solution than giving the terrorist group sufficient
power in the two provinces, North and East.
It was during the period of the rule of the UNP Government of J. R.
Jayewardene that the then Tamil political leaders and the Tamil
terrorist groups finally got India to intervene both directly and
indirectly in the internal armed conflict that was planned and started
by the terrorist bands and get India to coerce the then government to
agree to a devolution of power method under the Indo-Lanka accord of
The agreement stipulated that a provincial council for a merged
Northern and Eastern Provinces should be established. Jayewardene
thereafter merged the two provinces under the emergency regulations
without the approval of his Cabinet or his Parliament though he had an
absolute majority and undated letters of resignation of his
Parliamentarians in his pocket.
The Indo-Lanka accord also called on the armed terrorist groups to
surrender their arms - a case of countervailing its own former offence
of providing the Tamil terrorist groups with arms in the North of Sri
The arms or at least a token of arms of a number of terrorist groups
including the EPRLF that was to be elected to run the provincial council
were handed over to the Indian Peace Keeping Force that also was brought
to the country under the accord.
On the day the arms were handed over the people of Jaffna cheered it
but they of course were not aware that all the arms that the terrorist
groups possessed had not been handed over.
The clauses of the Indo-Lanka accord among other things declared that
the Northern and Eastern provinces were areas of historical habitation
of the 'Tamil speaking people' but it ignored the fact that the term
historical habitation was a vague, ambiguous one that was included with
a sinister motive to say that such people had the exclusive right to
live in those two provinces.
It was abundantly clear that the whole country was inhabited by all
ethnic groups from very ancient times but to the demarcation of the
provinces by the British after the whole country was subjugated by the
provinces was done in several instances over a long period of time for
their administrative convenience and not on ethnic lines.
For especially in the Eastern province hundreds of villages where the
Sinhalese people lived were depopulated at least on two periods, the
first was during the influenza epidemic at the turn of the 20th Century
as recorded in the books of Dr. R. L. Spittle the British surgeon who
associated closely with the Veddah tribe of the Eastern province and the
second exodus during the malaria epidemic of the early 1930s..
As President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in his address to Parliament on
Tuesday, finding a solution to the problem of the Tamil people in the
North and East could not be done by any 'imported' method but we the
people of the country should go for a home grown solution since the
opportunity had been afforded to us with the defeat of the terrorist
group that claimed to be the 'sole representative of the Tamil people'.
Before any proposal for devolution of power to the North and East is
mooted it would be important to ensure that all the groups of people
whom the terrorists had chased out of the North and East like the
Muslims of the Jaffna and Mannar districts who were given only 24 hours
to quit should be also taken into consideration.
The other factor to be considered is Tamil population - a majority -
who are living in the south. If a meaningful devolution of power package
is to be implemented discussion with all the ethnic groups not only the
Tamil people of the north and east should be imperative and exchange of
views among all the groups to find a solution acceptable to all groups
was sine qua non.
Since there are views and proposals already expressed by a large
number of political parties and groups forming a wide spectrum it would
not be impossible to find a workable political solution of the middle
path without falling prey to extremist positions.
The people have faith that President Mahinda Rajapaksa would address
the problem and the public should be aware and articulate their views
towards that end so that the valiant members of the Armed Forces,
innocent men women and children who had sacrificed their lives did not
die in vain.