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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Election Time in North: EPDP’s dreaded Charles resurfaces

Douglas and Basil

As Minister Douglas Devananda announced his candidature for the Chief Ministership of the Northern Province yesterday, the government intensified efforts at shutting down the potential opposition. Thursday night the army moved into a private TNA meeting of the leadership with its Local Government candidates in Alaveddy, assaulting all and sundry. About 60-75 were in attendance.
The intruders were all from the army, numbering 50 or so and carrying in addition to their usual guns, poles and thick sticks which indicated premeditation. The bodyguards of the MPs, who are usually Sinhalese policemen, when they identified themselves as such to the army, were promptly assaulted as if to ask what right they had to guard these men. The bodyguards of MPs Mavai Senathirajah and E. Saravanapavan had to be hospitalized. Many of those in attendance had their identity cards taken away by the army.

S.X. Kulanayagam, a TNA parliamentary candidate in whose neighbourhood the army registered all residents with some being photographed, said that the intention of the government is to instill fear in the people so that TNA supporters do not turn up at the polls. His own household was registered yesterday while the army avoided the house of his immediate neighbour, Mavai Senathirajah. It seemed that the army did not want questions in parliament over the recent assurance of the Attorney General on March 3, 2011 to the Supreme Court that forced registration of Tamils in the North by the army would stop.

Taking over all public functions

The EPDP in the meantime is taking over all public functions, seeking exposure before the elections. At the opening of the Uduvil AGA’s office, which was by natural right to be chaired by the District Secretary, EPDP MP Chandrakumar took over the chairmanship while the DS told friends that there was nothing she could have done. When those to light the lamp had to be called up and Mavai Senathirajah’s name was also included, Chandrakumar told the announcer in public to “shut up.” A similar takeover occurred at a function to be chaired by Karaveddy District Secretary Sathiaseelan. At an Urelu children’s school, after donating money to the school, the EPDP demanded that 5 of their people should be invited to speak at the school’s next public function.

As the need for people for election organisation increased, the EPDP’s dreaded Charles who had for long disappeared from the scene, was brought out of hiding. In the ongoing saga of the EPDP filling the vacuum left behind by the LTTE, Charles who had once been with the LTTE is one of the many LTTEers who are always on the winning side. He had therefore switched to the EPDP and in the recreation of the LTTE network and nomenclature, was made the “Thenmaratchi Poruppalar” (Person-in-Charge, Thenmaratchi). The Poruppalar was now an EPDP man whereas previously it was an LTTE man. There was no other difference.

Last Sunday, 12 June was a felicitous occasion for the people of Chavakacheri because Prof. Vasanthy Arasaratnam, one of their own, had been appointed Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University. Hatchets were buried for the occasion. Prof. K. Kanthasamy, Dean of the Faculty of Science at Jaffna University, as a Chavakacheri man led the occasion as did the other dignitaries of Thenmaratchi (the southern region of the 3 regions into which the peninsula is divided, the other two being Vadamaratchi and Valikamam).

Suddenly however, in an unscheduled event, the EPDP’s Charles walked up to the podium giving a shock to the people of Chavakacheri who had been quite happy about his disappearance till then. In his capacity as Thenmaratchi Poruppalar leader, Charles had been up to all kinds of mischief. In a rape and murder incident about 2 years ago in Kalvayal in Chavakacheri, the police had arrested 2 boys of whom one might have had had an interest in the girl. It was suspected at that time that Charles had set up these boys as suspects through a group of O Level dropouts with a view to blackmail. But one was the son of the powerful owner of Arulvinayager Motorbike Store, who pressed his son’s innocence. Once the case was transferred to Jaffna from the Chavakacheri courts where the EPDP was influential, there was a court order to arrest Charles who soon disappeared and has since been seen in public only now at the VC’s felicitation. No one is quite sure if he is still a wanted man or not, or what happened to the old court order.

In his speech, to the great embarrassment of all, especially the chief guest who had boasted in a newspaper interview that in her administration there would be no room for politics, Charles announced that it was the EPDP which had installed her as VC so that functions like Ponguthamil would never again be held at the university and that the new VC would collaborate with them in furthering their political agenda.

No room for politics

In a carefully set agenda gone badly wrong, a subsequent speaker, TNA parliamentary candidate Arunthavapalan who had retired as Principal of Drieberg College, urged the new VC to support Tamil nationalism (Thamil Thaysiyam).

It is this tussle between the EPDP and the TNA that is now being played out and will intensify as the local government and the later provincial council elections draw near.

Unfortunately the local press is cowed down and information is scarce except by word of mouth. The press in general exercises self-restraint in matters like the EPDP and the UN Report by the Secretary General’s Panel (unless it is to praise the EPDP or condemn the report). Through undemocratic means and the instilling of fear, the government and the EPDP seem determined to become, ironically, “the democratic choice” of the Tamil people.


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