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Vijayakala’s outrageous call for Tiger Balm to soothe Jaffna woes

Image: Vijayakala Maheswaran (Indian Express)

(08 July 2018/ST)
Tiger lover resigns after expressing longings for the LTTE to romance the north with the kiss of death enforced through the barrel of the gunView(s): 364

Like some of their Sinhale brethren down south of the border who, within three short years, seem to have forgotten the recent past, display an irresistible craving to return to the era of white vans and reveal a masochistically addictive scratching itch to have a Hitlerite figure to trample upon and crush their fundamental freedoms under a Nazi brand jackboot, so does it seem that some northern Tamils also suffer the same bout of amnesia and yearn to see the return of the fascist LTTE regime with a born again Prabhakaran at its helm to wreak upon the land a new bloodbath.

Hardly had the southern dust settled upon the island eleven days after a leading Buddhist monk, the Anunayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter, raised a storm of indignation when he called for a new Hitler to rise and use the Lankan Armed Forces and usurp absolute power from a democratically elected government, the State Minister entrusted with Child Affairs, the forty-five-year-old UNP Tamil MP Vijayakala Maheswaran this week on Tuesday nearly caused a smouldering racial volcanic mount to suddenly erupt anew and spew its hot ashes of hate and spread its vitriol across the land in a new wave of racial lava and leave it painted blood red — if her nostalgic wishes to see the return of the Tiger to romance Jaffna again and plant upon her lips the kiss of death enforced by the barrel of the T56 were to come true.

In a speech delivered at the 8th Presidential Public Service programme titled ‘Nila Mehewera for Northern Province’ held at the Veerasingham Hall in Jaffna on July 3, the State Minister of Child Affairs, Vijayakala Maheswaran boldly announced her trumpet call for the internationally and locally banned terrorist organisation, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to be revived again and be the guardian deity of the northern and eastern Tamils.

Ex STATE MINISTER UNP MP VIJAYAKALA MAHESWARAN: If our children and women are to come home safely, an LTTE administration is again necessary

Before an audience that comprised senior government ministers, namely Minister of Foreign Affairs Tilak Marapana, Minister of Internal Affairs Vajira Abeygunawardena, the Northern Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran and other TNA Parliamentarians, she declared, without blink or blush, ‘With our peoples’ votes only, President Maithripala Sirisena was elected to office. What is he doing now? He is concerned about strengthening his own political party. He had failed us enormously. Today we realise from our bottom of our heart how we are proud to have lived under the times of LTTE prior to May 18, 2009.”

But she did not stop there. Elated perhaps by the round of applause and wolf whistles she received from the state employees consisting of Grama Sevakas, Pradeshiya Sabha officials, Divisional Secretariat officials and others she batted on and on as if there was no tomorrow for the Northern and Eastern Tamils without the LTTE to ensure their safety and peace of mind.

She said: “Our main objective is to resurrect the LTTE in the North and East in order to ensure our survival. If we wanted to lead a peaceful life, more importantly if our school going children are to return home safely, the hands of the LTTE should be strengthened. ‘We have faced three decades of war in the recent past. Other than releasing some plots of lands in Valikaamam North, the Government did nothing for the Tamil people. We are also part of this unity government. We are also bound by party rules and regulations but today we have to violate those rules considering true plight of our people.”

Her speech outraged the nation, which had suffered so much in blood and tears for over thirty years. Let’s consider her statement: “If children are to return home safely, the hands of the LTTE should be strengthened,’ Perhaps her privileged upbringing as the daughter of a big and wealthy landowner in Karainagar in the north and subsequent marriage at the age of 26 to a rich businessman who settled down in a Colombo 7 house down Gregory’s Road somewhere around 2006 for the sole purpose of sending their two young daughters and son to the Colombo International School down the same road now called R.G. Senanayake Mawatha, where she still lives, kept her cocooned from the horrors of terror the LTTE inflicted upon her less fortunate sistering during the terrible war years on whose behalf she now professes to speak. And sheds tears as barter for future votes.

Let’s flashback to how the Tigers that Vijayakala now garlands for being the protectors of the Tamils’ seed and blossom and the chivalrous knights of Tiger Supremo, Prabhakaran’s one seat Eelam table safeguarding the maidenhead of all Tamil womankind, forcibly dragged children away from the shelter and security of their parents dwelling to their military training camps and turned them into killer machines. And brutalised their mental set up forever.

Take a look at the New York-based Human Rights Watch report issued on 11th November 2004.The 80-page report titled “Living in Fear: Child Soldiers and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka,” includes firsthand testimonies from dozens of children from northeastern Sri Lanka who have been recruited by the Tamil Tigers since the ceasefire came into effect. Children described rigorous and sometimes brutal military training, including training with heavy weapons, bombs and landmines. Children who try to escape are typically beaten in front of their entire unit as a warning to others.

It says: “The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE or Tamil Tigers) use intimidation and threats to pressure Tamil families in the north and east of Sri Lanka to provide sons and daughters for military service. When families refuse, their children are sometimes abducted from their homes at night or forcibly recruited while walking to school. Parents who resist the recruitment of their children face retribution from the Tamil Tigers, including violence or detention.”

“The Tamil Tigers have recruited at least 3,516 children since the start of the February 2002 ceasefire with the government, according to cases documented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The agency states that this figure represents only a portion of the total number of children recruited.”

“They took away my younger brother the other day. He was coming home from the market and he was taken away,” said Vanji, who was recruited by the LTTE in 1997 at age 16. “They didn’t release him, and they threatened to shoot if I reported his abduction. They also told me at the same time that I had to re-join.”

International law prohibits the recruitment of children under the age of 18 by non-state armed groups, and all participation of children in active hostilities. The recruitment of children under the age of 15 is now considered a war crime. “Time and again, the Tamil Tigers have pledged to end their use of child soldiers, but each time they’ve broken those promises,” said Becker. “It’s time for the Tamil Tigers to live up to their legal responsibilities and stop recruiting children.”

Perhaps Vijayakala should have taken a look at it. Perhaps she did, even in translation. And the decision was taken to enroll her young children at the Colombo International School down Gregory’s Road and move from their flat in an apartment complex in Tamil crowded Wellawatte and buy a swank house — the present market value per perch is approximately Rs 18 million — in the private lane down road Gregory opposite the school for convenience sake.

Not so, and no such luck, for the poor parents in Jaffna who had to watch helpless, at the point of the Tiger gun, their children taken away from them; and for whom her heart now bleeds in pain, and calls for the resurrection of the Tigers on the basis that ‘“If our children are to return home safely, the hands of the LTTE should be strengthened.’

She said in her speech: “The sufferings of a woman can be understood only by another woman and not by a man. A six-year-old girl was raped and killed. Our girls who are receiving no support from anyone have only one choice — commit suicide.”Her justification to make this outlandish speech calling for the LTTE’s revival to protect the Tamils of the North and East was based on the brutal killing of a six-year-old girl two weeks ago in Jaffna.

And what was it?

Six-year-old Sivaneshwaran Regina was a Year One student of the Kattupulam Tamil mixed school in Jaffna. She was the youngest in the family. She had two brothers and a sister. Her parents were day labourers and they usually returned home after 2.30 pm. On the day of the incident, the 25th of June, the elder sister informed her mother when she came back from her manual labour shift in the afternoon that her sister Sivaneshwaran had not returned home from school.

The parents and the villagers notified the Police and upon searching the area, they found the child’s school bag along with other items. Sivaneshwaran’s body was later recovered dumped in a nearby well on the same day in the Jaffna Chulipuram area.Within 24 hours, the police arrested her uncle a 22-year-old youth who had lured her into the forest on the pretext of showing her birds. The postmortem examination had ruled out rape, but the police said that the suspect had tried to sexually abuse the child but had strangled her in the process. Her funeral was held on the following day, Tuesday, amongst a large gathering.

No question about it, it was a most sad and tragic incident which not only made the Jaffna Tamils weep but all of Lanka deeply grieve and mourn the innocent child’s death. Her death touched the nation’s heartstrings. Her murder caused the nation to condemn it in one voice and call for the murderers to be brought to justice and be condemned to hang.

And while on the subject, is it not true that she was accused of along with the dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo, V.T. Thamilmaran helping a paedophile who was found guilty of gang raping and murder of a young girl Sivaloganathan Vithya in Jaffna? Didn’t the High Court Judge N. Illancheliyan, in his ruling, note that Vijayakala had taken steps to secure the release of the main accused when he was captured by residents following the rape and murder?

But would a de facto LTTE regime in charge of the North and East and patrolling the streets have been able to prevent such unfortunate incidents? This incident had nothing to do with the Sri Lankan Army. It had nothing to do even with some splinter Tamil terrorist group still haunting Jaffna byways. It was simply a matter where a small girl was lured away to the jungles by her 22-year-old uncle to be sexually molested and killed.

But was this the sort of cause célèbre that Vijayakala should have raised to justify her perverse invite to the Tigers to resume their barbaric role again in the north and east? Already, not even three days of her ‘Welcome Back, We Need You’ sign held aloft by her to the Tigers, news reports say that a fund raising campaign was launched earlier this week in Killnochchi to raise money to celebrate Black Friday in Jaffna and Killnochchi Districts by displaying the logo of the LTTE which fell on this Thursday on the 5th.

Did Vijayakala’s call for Tiger Balm to soothe Jaffna’s woes spell the magic mantra ‘Open Sesame’ to open the Tiger den? Her totally unwarranted and repulsive speech was swiftly condemned with the prime Minister summoning her to his office to give explanation and recommending to the President her immediate sacking from the post of State Minister of Women and Child Affairs. To pre-empt the situation Vijayakala resigned from her portfolio.

Her own explanation as told to Ranjan Ramanayaje on national television was: “Aiyo, who said I said that. It’s all lies, appa. I was under tension, tension and it was a slip of the tongue. I did not say that the LTTE should be revived. What I meant was that we lived in peace during that era.”
Lived in peace, ah? Perhaps she did in Colombo 7 with her family safe. Not the people of the north who got shelled both by the LTTE and the Lankan Army.

Perhaps the Jaffna peninsula still harbours a deep seated lust for the Tiger gun to ravage her even more. And perhaps Vijayakala gave voice to it. And in the throes of condemning her, perhaps the Government, too, should lay its ear to the ground and pay heed to the rumblings from the North.

  • Don Manu /ST


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