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Satyagraha receives “Baptism of fire” on first day

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by D.B.S Jeyaraj

50th Anniversary of 1961 Tamil Satyagraha – 3

The batch of volunteers from the Kankesanthurai(KKS) electorate led by Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) leader Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam commenced their Satyagraha campaign opposite the Jaffna Kachcheri premises at 7. 30 am on February 20th 1961.

It must be noted that the Jaffna Kachcheri was not housed then in the present building where it is situated now along the Jaffna –Kandy road or A-9 highway in the Chundikkuli area of Jaffna city.

The Kachcheri then was right opposite where it is now. The Kachcheri buildings were on the same Jaffna –Kandy highway on the other side of the road. Those premises were later called the Old Kachcheri building after the present two – storey new building was constructed.

When the Satyagraha was launched the place where the present Kachcheri or secretariat is on now was a vacant plot of govt land with a few large shady trees. Many members of the public who came to the Kachcheri to transact official business would be seen loitering or conversing under those trees. Some cycles were also parked unofficially there.

The old Kachcheri was situated in the large grounds known as Old Park. The main entrance to the Kachcheri was on the Jaffna –Kandy road. The official residence of the Jaffna district Government Agent was also within the Old Park.Known as the old park residency it had another separate entrance along the Jaffna – Kandy road. There was a third ,largely unused smaller gate on the other side of Old Park along Old Park road.

The Satyagrahis led by Chelvanayakam sat on the ground opposite both the Kachcheri main entrance and entrance to the residency. About 40 – 50 persons sat with Chelvanayakam in front of the main entrance. Another 15 – 25 persons sat further down opposite the residency entrance.The objective was to block Government servants from entering their office premises and working.

Apart from the volunteers from the KKS constituency , smaller groups of volunteers from other constituencies also assembled with their members of Parliament.

Some of these MP’s like Dr. EMV Naganathan (Nallur)VA Kandiah (Kayts)A. Amirthalingam (Vaddukkoddai)VN Navaratnam (Chavakachcheri)V. Dharmalingam (Uduvil) and K.Thurairatnam (Point Pedro)sat along with Chelvanayakam on the first row of Satyagrahis.

MASTERMIND

The mastermind behind the Satyagraha campaign V.Navaratnam and his “vice-captain” S.Nadarajah were also at the venue but did not participate in the sit –in. They were inspecting arrangements and coordinating matters. Navaratnam was to later become Kayts MP while Nadarajah later became Senator and Jaffna District Development Council chairman.Both were lawyers.

Periyar Periyar E. V. Ramasamy in conversation with S. J. V. Chelvanayagam and A. Amirthalingam and Mrs. Amirthalingam

Amirthalingam’s wife Mrs.Mangaiyatkarasi Amirthalingam along with some women volunteers sat behind the frontline leaders in the second row. Mangaiatkarasi being a reputed singer conducted “bhajans” where the lead singer chants the lines first and is followed in chorus by the rest. In keeping with the prevailing Gandhian ethos , Mrs. Amirthalingam started off with “Ragupathy Raghava Raja Ram” a favourite of the Mahatma.

Behind the seated Satyagrahis columns of more Satyagrahis stood in readiness. It was expected that the Police would arrest the Satyagrahis and take them away. When that happened the next batch of volunteers standing behind would promptly sit in their places and commence Satyagraha.

If and when that group was arrested and taken away another batch would take their place. There were about 200 accredited Satyagrahi volunteers with official badges at the Kachcheri venue. In addition further contingents waited in anticipation at the house compound of a party supporter in the vicinity of the Kachcheri. Additional volunteers were also waiting at the Federal Party (FP) office premises on 2nd cross street,Jaffna.

The accredited Satyagrahi volunteers wearing badges had all been given classes and lectures about the principle of non – violent political protest with special emphasis on adhering to Gandhian values of non – cooperation. Almost all volunteers were wearing white. Also many of them were fasting on that day.

They had been given clear instructions that their mission was only to prevent through non – violent protests any Govt employee from entering their office. The Police was not to be obstructed in any way. They were also instructed not to retaliate violently whatever the provocation.

VOLUNTEERS

Satyagrahi volunteers began peacefully approaching the Kachcheri employees when they arrived for duty. The volunteers told them of their campaign and entreated them as Tamils not to go in and start work. There were more than 250 employees of all grades at the Kachcheri. Most of them adhered to the Satyagrahi request and did not go in.They gathered in a large group and watched proceedings as by –standers.

Some Kachcheri workers had anticipated the Satyagraha demonstration and arrived for work by 6.30 am long before the protesters converged at the premises. Thus a handful of Govt employees were already within Kachcheri premises when the Satyagraha began.

Many members of the public also began arriving to transact official business at their Kachcheri. Again Satyagrahi volunteers accosted them and fervently urged them not to go in . Almost all complied with the plea. They too began waiting and watching to see what was happening.

Meanwhile a large crowd was gathering at the venue. With news of the Satyagraha spreading hundreds of people were now at the venue. Some were curious onlookers but most however were sympathetic spectators. The members of this swelling crowd though supportive of the Satyagraha were not trained Satyagrahis. A large number consisted of youths.

It was at 8.45 am that the Police arrived “officially” at the scene although some cops in civil attire had been quiet observers for quite a while. The Jaffna Superintendent of Police then was Richard Arndt. The Assistant Supdt of Police was Arumugam Mahendran. Both arrived on the spot in separate jeeps.

The senior Police officials were accompanied by a very large party of Policemen who arrived in trucks,vans and jeeps. Many of them wore helmets and carried shields.Jaffna had not witnessed so many Policemen in anti-riot gear before. They also had batons which they “showed off” by brandishing them before the Public and Satyagrahis.

As the Policemen took up positions and awaited orders the supdt of Police Arndt tried to drive in to Kachcheri premises in his jeep. It was about five minutes to nine then. In keeping with the decision not to obstruct the Police in their line of duty the Satyagrahis made way for Arndt’s jeep to enter the Old Park.

RICHARD ARNDT

Richard Arndt drove around the old park and then got down. He began inspecting the “area” carefully. He was also seen lingering near the unused padlocked side gate along old Park road. When V. Navaratnam was told of this he immediately deployed another group of Satyagrahis to block this side entrance in case any attempt was made to use it.

Richard Arndt then went into the Residency and met with the Government Agent M. SriKantha. He then came out and drove out to the road again. The Jaffna SP then ordered the Police to clear the main entrance to the Kachcheri by removing the Satyagrahis.He did not order them to be arrested as expected.

The Satyagrahis too did not expect this. They were prepared to submit to Police arrest willingly and let another batch replace them. Indeed the entire Satyagraha exercise had been planned in this fashion where wave after wave of volunteers were to court arrest in relay fashion.

It now appeared that the SP Arndt had no intention of arresting anyone. He wanted the Satyagrahis to be dragged out and dumped forcefully. None were to be arrested.

It was only five years ago on June 5th 1956 that the Police had behaved in different fashion at a Satyagraha demonstration organized by the Federal Party in Colombo. It was on June 5th that the bill making Sinhala the sole official language was presented in Parliament.

The FP led by SJV Chelvanayakam observed a day of Satyagraha at the Galle Face Green opposite the old Parliament building. On that day some politicians in the ruling SWRD Bandaranaike Govt let loose mobs of Sinhala speaking thugs and hoodlums to assault and stone the non – violent Satyagrahis.

The Police remained passive spectators as the thugs attacked the peaceful Satygrahis.Many years later ex-DIG CC “Jungle” Dissanayake was to reveal that the hands of the Police had been tied by orders from the Prime Minister himself. Another senior police officer Van Twest also revealed in a subsequent interview that the Police had been ordered to do nothing.

QUESTIONABLE FORCE

If that had been the role of the Police in the 1956 Satyagraha their role seemed to be different in Jaffna regarded as the cultural capital of Sri Lankan Tamils. They were not going to arrest anyone but exercise “questionable force” in physically removing Satyagrahis from the scene.

Arndt then sent word to the FP leaders through ASP Mahendran that they should stop blocking the main entrance to the Kachcheri so that Govt employees could enter. If they refused the Police would clear the area by force to enable the govt servants to go in to their offices without hindrance.

Dr.Naganathan and Amirthalingam then walked up to the Jaffna Sudpdt’s jeep and informed Arndt that they would not allow Govt employees to enter Kachcheri premises. As such they could not clear the way and instead invited Arndt to arrest the Satyagrahis if he so desired. The SP then said he would give them five minutes to disperse.Otherwise the Police would remove the Satyagrahis through force.

The FP leaders then changed tactics. Ever concerned about the fragile vulnerability of their esteemed and beloved leader they requested Chelvanayakam to move out from the place. When Chelvanayakam refused the women present led by Mrs. Amirthalingam implored him to leave. Chelvanayakam reluctantly left with the women volunteers.

A team of Satyyagrahis led by Kayts MP VA Kandiah a lawyer himself changed positions and sat with their backs to the entrance. The others sat in rows facing the entrance. The Satyagrahis realised that the Police were going to use force and bodily remove them. But they sat there unflinchingly armed only with their love of their mother tongue and belief in the doctrine of non –violence.

When the five minutes “grace” was over Richard Arndt ordered Police action.When the SP ordered that the Satyagrahis be removed bodily instead of being arrested even the Police at the scene appeared bewildered and hesitant.But the highly respected Richard Arndt, an able,upright Police officer was presumably acting on orders from higher up’s.

Losing his cool, Arndt yelled at his chief lieutenant ASP Mahendran to “drag these buggers out by their hands and legs”. Spurred by this outburst by Arndt the Police stirred themselves and moved in.They began lifting the Satyagrahis one by one and carried them to a distance and threw them on the ground.

UNARMED STRUGGLE

But even as they were thrown the Satyagrahis led by Kandiah picked themselves up and hurried back to their places and resumed their unarmed struggle. Even as this was going on other Satyagrahis moved in and sat blocking the entrance.

Soon the Police began losing patience and started dragging the Satyagrahis away instead of carrying them. This too did not deter the protestors who kept on blocking the entrance. Some began to lie flat on the ground. Some policemen then began to roll the prostrate Satyagrahis. A few blows and kicks were delivered. But the Satyagrahis did not retaliate.

After about 15 minutes Arndt ordered the Police to stop. He now altered his course of action. The northern Police supdt instructed Policement to form two columns on both sides of the path leading to the main entrance.

Since the Satyagrahis were firmly instructed not to obstruct the Police in carrying out their duties the demonstrators remained passive. They realised that the Police was up to something but did not engage in any pre-emptive action. Soon the Police were standing in two lines towering above the seated Satyagrahis.A narrow path straddled by cops on either side had evolved.

Arndt then went up to the Kachcheri employees huddled in groups and ordered them to walk through the narrow route between Satyagrahis. While most govt servants hesitated a few encouraged by the SP and SP started walking towards the entrance. It appeared that the “cordon” of the Satyagrahis was about to be breached.

FRANCIS PEREIRA

But the hour brings forth the man! A comparatively young Bharatha Tamil from Chilaw was also a participant in the Satyagraha. He was none other than Francis Pereira who had contested and lost Chilaw on the FP ticket in the July 1960 elections.

Instead of sitting passively and letting the govt officials pass through,Francis Pereira threw himself on the ground in front of the advancing officials . Inspired by this act of non – violent defiance other volunteers too started prostrating themselves on the ground thus impeding the progress of govt employees. Seeing this spectacle the advancing govt employees stopped in their tracks.

An enraged Arndt then blasted his subordinates and commanded them to break up the Satyagraha and let the govt servants move inside. Now the cops got cracking again –literally and metaphorically. A barrage of baton blows were directed at the Satyagrahis but they remained firmly glued to the ground despite the rain of blows.The Police in a frenzied exhibition of brute force began to kick and stomp on Satyagrahis.

In a desperate effort to clear the way the Police also started to pull,drag and carry away the Satyagrahis. A very high degree of force was employed this time.Some volunteers were lifted up from their positions and thrown down elsewhere like inanimate objects in a rough,haphazard manner.Others were dragged away by their hands and legs over rough terrain. Some others were pulled out and pushed forcibly on the ground.

Despite this display of brute force against unarmed protestors the Satyagrahis were unrelenting. There was a terrific scramble to fall down on the spaces rendered empty by Police action and fill the vacancies created. It was like a gigantic rugby scrum with the pack flinging themselves with gusto into the fray.

CHILAW CHEETA

The hero of that altercation was Francis Pereira the Cheeta from Chilaw. He would be dragged out by the Police but would immediately return and throw himself down on the ground.He would again be pulled out and hurled down but would return again. According to veteran Satyagrahis, Francis Pereira would have done so at least about fifteen times . His shirt and trousers were torn and in rags but the man remained firm , unbowed and unafraid.

Inspired by Francis Pereira the Satyagrahis continued to block the main entrance in spite of tremendous Police pressure. The situation was tense and emotional. Seeing the pathetic plight of the Satyagrahis, sections of the Tamil spectators and bystanders were moved.

In an unexpected turn of events members of the crowd began to rush in spontaneously and squat opposite the main entrance. A few were hit by the cops but did not run away.It soon became apparent that the Satyagraha of a few was transforming into mass action by many.

After a long tussle the Police called it quits. Arndt ordered the Police to cease action. He then drove into the Old Park again and the Satyagrahis gave him clear passage. The time was around 10.15 am. Arndt then went into the GA’s residence again.

The FP leaders thanked the members of the public for their support and gently persuaded them to retire saying the registered volunteers would continue with the Satyagraha. While injured and hurt satyagrahis went away from the scene for medical treatment others took up positions again. About a 100 volunteers sat in front of the main entrance while around 25 sat in front of the residency entrance.

ASSIZE SESSIONS

The drama however was not over. February 20th was the date on which the Assize sessions of the Supreme Court were scheduled to open in Jaffna. The Jaffna GA M.Sri Kantha was required to be present for the Assize session opening as he had to present the mandate in his capacity as fiscal marshal. The opening was to be at 11 am.

Since most FP leaders were legal luminaries they were fully aware that the GA had to be present in courts at the appropriate time. They were also in a quandary because they did not want to disrupt the opening Assize sessions in any way because they too were practising lawyers.

In a bid to wriggle out of this tricky issue some FP leaders had come to a “gentleman’s agreement” with the GA through the good offices of a third party. The FP had been told that the GA Mr. Sri Kantha would not attend the Assize sessions. A senior Govt servant would deputise on his behalf and would leave for courts from his private residence. Thus the FP would not have to block the Jaffna GA’s departure from the residency.

This unofficial arrangement was known only to a few of the FP leaders. The bulk of the membership including Satyagraha volunteers were not aware of this. But what the FP leaders did not realise was that orders from Colombo had stipulated that the GA himself had to attend the Assize session opening and present the mandate as Fiscal marshal.

So the Satyagrahis on their watch were taken by surprise when the GA Mr. Sri Kantha came out of the residency at 10.30 am with the SP Richard Arndt and clambered aboard the Police jeep. The jeep then proceeded to the Old Park residency entrance on the Jaffna –Kandy road instead of the main entrance.

PALANIYAPPAN

As stated earlier the Old Park entrance had only a small presence of Satyagrahis numbering 25. When they saw the GA trying to exit in the Police jeep they promptly threw themselves down on the ground in front of the entrance. The jeep had to screech to a halt because a youth in his early twenties named Palaniappan threw himself in front of the jeep. The front wheel was only a few feet from him when the vehicle braked suddenly.

Arndt then bellowed to the Police to throw the “buggers” out and clear passage. The Police promptly obeyed his orders. They began to lift up the Satyagrahis bodily and hurl them away. It was only then that the ruse adopted by Arndt came to light.

The Old park entrance precincts were packed with more than 75 policemen. Arndt had cleverly packed the area with cops without the Satyagrahi’s noticing it.With the ratio of Policemen to Satyagrahis being more than three to one the cops found it easy to clear the way unlike at the Kachcheri main entrance.

Palaniyappan the youth who had thrown himself in front of the jeep was pulled out and beaten mercilessly with batons. He received several blows to his head and bled profusely.He was hospitalised for serious injuries. But after recovering he joined the Satyagraha again some weeks later.

Alerted to the fracas at the old park entrance many of the Satyagrahis at the main entrance came rushing. At the forefront were five Tamil MP’s namely Naganathan,Kandiah, Amirthalingam, Dharmalingam and Thurairatnam.

BATTLE OF THE BATON

VA Kandiah went right up to the jeep and sat across with his back to the radiator. Naganathan and Amirthalingam sat in front of the jeep while Dharmalingam and Thurairatnam prostrated themselves on the ground. Despite this high-level attempt to thwart the GA’s departure the numerical strength of the Police contingent made it “mission impossible”.

The Police reacted with brutal ferocity. The Satyagrahis were beaten with batons and pulled out bodily. Kandiah was carried out and dumped on the ground. Thurairatnam and Dharmalingam were dragged out by their hands and legs. Naganathan and Amirthalingam were baton charged.

It was then that an unusual incident occurred. When a policeman rained blows on Dr. Naganathan known for his pugnacious nature and pugilistic skills grasped one end of the baton to prevent being hit. There was a tug of war with both the MP and cop pulling the baton. In the tussle the baton suddenly broke in two with each adversary holding on to one part.Later Naganathan was to take the broken baton piece home as a souvenir.

Although the “battle of the baton” violated the principle of Satyagraha the incident created a popular image for Naganathan among Tamils. He was eulogised as “Irumbu Manithan” or iron man thereafter because the baton broke during the assault. Incidently Sardar Vallabhai Patel of India was known as the “Iron man” during the Freedom struggle against the British.

Despite these efforts by the Satyagrahis the Jeep with the GA and SP managed to drive out through a gap created by the Police. Seeing the jeep drive away a section of the public infuriated by the escape pelted a few stones at the vehicle. The windscreen cracked as a result.

VIOLENCE

Angered by the stone throwing the Police now turned on the public and began a baton charge. By that a time a crowd of about 5000 had gathered at the spot and in the by-lanes and lanes in the vicinity. These comprised ordinary citizens who had heard about the Police brutality and had converged in solidarity at the scene.

These were not Satyagrahis trained to refrain from violence but ordinary people with highly charged emotion and anger. Some of these members of the public began to throw stones at the Police. The Police retaliated by assaulting them. The Police also surprised the public by producing sacks full of stones and throwing them at the people.

While this violence went on large numbers of people also began to move in and sit opposite the old park entrance. Soon the numbers at that entrance increased from 25 to more than 500. Most of them were ordinary people and not accredited Satyagrahis. Finding the protesters too numerous to dislodge the Police withdrew from the entrance.

The use of force by the Police however continued with people being beaten indiscriminately. In the process the cops also attacked a large number of Govt employees working in the Jaffna kachcheri who were waiting for the Police to establish an avenue for them to commence work.

The situation began to turn ugly and with passions aroused there was the danger of the non – violent Satyagraha turning into a violent skirmish. With the crowds becoming increasingly volatile the Police resorted to firing in the air thrice and firing tear gas canisters once.

The FP leaders appealed to the crowds to disperse peacefully. Mrs. Amirthalingam with a few women went around crying and asked the people to disperse. Slowly the crowds decreased. The tense climate eased. At 1. 30 PM the Satyagraha was called off on the first day.

pic: amirthalingam.com

TALK OF THE TOWN

Chelvanayakam issued a statement in the evening to the press. In that he said “February 20th 1961 is a great day for the Tamil speaking people of Ceylon.This was the day we resorted to direct action to win back our rights.” Chelvanayakam also criticised the Police action without any reference to the stone throwing by members of the public.

53 Satyagrahis and members of the public were hospitalised for injuries. Four Policemen also receivd treatment for injuries caused by stoning. More than three hundred Satyagrahis and members of the public received treatment for minor injuries.

The Police action against Satyagrahis was the talk of the town that day. The tale spread among Tamils in the North,East and other parts of the Island. The Police action came in for sharp criticism.It had served to anger the Tamil public and popularise the Satyagraha among the Tamil people and cause much resentment against the Sirima Bandaranaike govt.

Bernard Soysa

Several members of the opposition criticised the Police action against the Satyagrahis. Some questioned the use of Police action to quell a non – violent protest. Among the Parliamentarians critical of the Police action were the UNP’s JR Jayewardena, the LSSP’s Dr.NM Perera, Bernard Soysa , Edmund Samarakkody, the LPP’s Dr. W.Dahanayake and the CWC’s Saumiyamoorthy Thondaman.

It was only a short period before the Jaffna Satyagraha that Earl Bertrand Russell had conducted a Satyagraha campaign with 6000 volunteers at the entrance to the Defence ministry in London.

Comparing and contrasting the London and Jaffna Satyagrahas the Times of Ceylon in its editorial of 22nd February 1961, observed : “It is noteworthy that Earl Russell’s and Federal Party’s were both nonviolent demonstrators but the significant difference was that while Russell and his followers had to deal with the disciplined London police, the Federal Party had to reckon with the Ceylon police.”

This then was the story of the first day of the 1961 Satyagraha and its baptism of fire.

NEXT: The Satyagraha continues and spreads in the North and East

Related:

– I. 50th Anniversary of 1961 Tamil “Satyagraha” campaign

– II. Non-violent direct action campaign begins in Jaffna

DBS Jeyaraj can be reached at djeyaraj2005@yahoo.com

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70 Comments

  1. When you think back one realises doing sathiyakiraham with singalese govt was very foolish. Ganthi won because British are gentlemen. But Singalese are not gentleman

  2. I always heard Naganathan been called Irumpu manithan or Iron man.Only today I learnt how the description was given

  3. Dear DBS

    from what you’ve written I can see that violence was rippling below surface in the so called Satyakraha.The seeds of the armed struggle were sown in the non –violent demonstration

  4. Beautiful article as always. Thanks DBSJ.
    “Critical of the police action were JRJ…………” This is 1961. Then his own 1983 riots reluctant to put the curfew in place. Who did gang rape mother Lanka for their political mileage, Sinhalese or Tamils????

  5. If Tamils show this effrot to British rullers before the independence , now we have full freedom of our rights and the lost Sovereignty to the Portugese.

    Why our leaders believed in cheating sinhala politicians and forget our future? If they think about this early we wouldn’t lost thousands of lives in the Civil War and Riot’s.

    Current Tamil Politicians need to think and action to reestablish our position to prevent this tragedy not
    happening in the future.

  6. When Thanthai Chelvanayagam and Amirthalingam visited Tamilnadu on 20 February 1972 to explain the grievances and to garner the support of the Tamil politicians, all the Tamilnadu politicians they met were supportive of the Non-violent action proposed by the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders except Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy Naickar . Periyar struck a skeptical chord ” Will non-violence work with the people who do not value the moral force “. Thanthai Chelvanayagam the quintessential Gandhian had replied ” Moral force will ultimately triumph “.

  7. Performing Satyagraha before Singala police like throwing valuable pearls and jems before pigs and donkeys

  8. This is a good read.Gripping writing style.Never realised recent political history could be so fascinating

  9. Very nice article. The Sinhalese never respected Tamil wishes in 50’s, 80’s and today. Those jungle people will never learn. Tamil Eelam is necessary even if not the whole of Eelam but Jaffna and North. Better that than nothing.
    DBS sir, can you write an article about my uncle MP Mahewaram from Karainagar, who got murdered in
    Colombo Temple in 2008 January. I would like to know more about him.

  10. Theoretically, a non-violent campaign becomes effective only if it is opposed with some violence. Let us imagine, purely hypothetically, the police did not do anything at all, but handed over water bottles for the Satyagrhits to quench their thirst what would have happened? Would the whole exercise be a roaring success? I don’t think so. The underlying assumption/hope of the Satyagrahaists is when the public is denied the services of the Katcheri for a prolonged period of time they (the public) will turn against (violently) the people who are blocking the entrance or the Government (police) for not doing anything about it. In that scenario wouldn’ t the

  11. Theoretically, a non-violent campaign becomes effective only if it is opposed with some violence. Let us imagine, purely hypothetically, the police did not do anything at all, but handed over water bottles for the Satyagrhits to quench their thirst while sitting under the Jaffna hot sun what would have happened? Would the whole exercise be a roaring success? I don’t think so. The underlying assumption/hope of the Satyagrahaists is when the public is denied the services of the Katcheri for a prolonged period of time they (the public) will turn against (violently) the people who are blocking the entrance or the Government (police) for not doing anything about it. In that scenario wouldn’ t the Satyagrahaists expect the police to use physical force against the public to protect them? You see the germ of violence is ingrained in the non-violence methodology.

  12. Dear DBSJ,
    Do you have any idea why did not our Tamil leaders follow footsteps of Jinna. They must know this Sinhala evils brutal nature before independence. They should have asked separate administration for Tamil nation. Why they didn’t do it? When they give independence to Ceylon why they missed the separation for our nation? Please tell us….

  13. I am a post-graduate student from India.My current area of interest is the “non-violent struggle” of Sri Lankan Tamils which preceded the armed struggle

    I was informed of your website and blog by Prof. Suri

    I have found it to be very illuminating and informative

    This current series of articles about the 1961 Satyagraha interests me greatly. I am amazed by the way in which you provide insightful history in such a captivating readable mode

    I do hope to contact you after you conclude this series .Is that possible Mr.Jeyaraj?Please.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Thank you for your interest and best wishes on your research

    You can contact me on dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

  14. Hi DBS Anna

    Thank you for writing about 1961 Satyagraha. I heard lots of stories about this from both my grandfathers and grandmothers who joined this protest then

    I am so happy to read about this great event in detail from you

    You are doing great service to Tamils Anna.
    May the Gods protect you

  15. Gobi Ganesh,

    “Tamil Eelam is necessary even if not the whole of Eelam but Jaffna and North. Better that than nothing.”

    I think you have hit the nail on the head here. If you want to somehow understand the violence and fury of the Sinhalese who oppose Tamil Eelam you also need to examine the justice and fairness of the claim. You stage a Satyagraha demanding federal powers for a Tamil dominated state that gives the Tamils 4 times as much land per capita as a Sinhalese. How would you then expect the Sinhalese to react? If the original demand was for a state in proportion to the Tamil population around Jaffna and Batticaloa the Sinhalese might have reacted entirely differently. The notion of unequitable distribution of resources is a powerful motivating factor in human behaviour and something the simplest mind can understand which can then be exploited by politicians. Tamil nationalism claims the entire Northern and Eastern provinces as their exclusive traditional homeland – despite much evidence to the contrary. One needs to examine to what extent this has aided and reinforced Sinhala Nationalism and also the reverse process of Sinhala Nationalism further reinforcing Tamil Nationalism. In mathematical parlence this is called a positive feedback loop which in a mechanical or thermal entity leads only to one outcome. Destruction. I am sure the same goes for a social entity.

  16. 10. Gobi Ganesh

    Those jungle people will never learn.

    ————————————————————————————-

    These words sums up very nicely that you high caste Jaffna Tamil’s attitude towards everyone else and one of the root cause of the problems. You guys are superior and everyone else has to listen to you correct?

  17. First Tamil people should taken up with the British Government then because, They are the people got you out of India and planted in Sri Lanka.Now The Brit’s are not talking about their wrong doings. No one can solve any thing. Point fingers taking nowhere either, All Sri Lankans Sinhalees,Tamil, Muslims ect suffering from one thing. “hard ship to bring food to the table” Sri Lanka got lot’s of funds from Agencies and countries, About 85% of the funds has not yet distribute to the public. What’s need to be done to get those funds to public is all of you Sri Lankans need to focus on.Violence is an greedy Idea of one or more people. Example Rohana Wejeweera, Prabakaren. Look what the KARMA .We all know what happen to such people. So those who love this country can go to the sources and find that money and give it to the Sri Lankans,Help them prosper as ONE NATION UNDER ONE FLAG.

  18. Thanks D.B.S Jeyaraj
    Very good article ,Both comunities should read & comments
    Helloooo ..Our Sinhala Brothers & Sisters ,any one in home?

  19. DBSJ,

    There you are DBSJ.

    You have started Chairman MAO’s famous “first step”. Please continue writing beyond this Sathyagraha and keep writing the whole struggle. Definitely it be a authentic history.

    I know it is a gigantic task, but It would be a noble thing to do. Would be an impartial history for our beloved country. Please do not answer negative and continue.

    Bala M.

  20. In the early sixties, I have personally witnessed the non-violent protests of the Tamils. The struggle of the Tamils has been been going on for many years.

    DBJ’s articles bring to our memories all the events that crossed the long journey of the struggles of the Tamil people.

    Unofortunately the armed struggle has eclipsed the Tamil struggle and all the events that accompanied it.

    The young generation should be briefed of the history of the Tamil struggle. History will be of great impetus to keep the ‘Independent Flame Alife”!

    I wonder whether DBS can publish his articles in Tamil for the benefit of the people living in the country.

    Besides, one of the serious crticisms raised against the Tamil politicians during the time of war, was that the Sinhala masses were not aware of the ‘injustices’ perpetrated against the Tamils in the country. If the ordinary Sinhala masses had come to know of the problems, they would have supported the ‘reasonable demands’ of the Tamil politicians.

    I had read some articles with these components during the time of the armed struggle.

    The tamils can not be totally blamed for this lack of information among the Sinhala masses.

    I still remember what I told a Sinhala army officer in Vavuniya and my Sinhala friends that if the Sinhala media had published half of the problems that the Tamils faced in the Northeast truthfully, there would have been better understanding among the Sinhala people. The political powers did not permit that kind of media freedom as it prevails today in the country.

    I wonder whether DBS can get his articles published in Sinhala language and be made available among the university students.

    Usually people are amenable to reasonable requests unless he or she is a despot and tyrant.

    I see in this column a university student being interested in the theme of ‘Non-Violent Struggle’ and his professor in India has recommended this column to him. That is intellectual honesty!

    Now there is no war and the mindset of the Sinhala people is much neutralized. Hence it is easier for them to absorb some of the events.

    There are some Sinhala readers in this column, as far as I see. They are not so numerous and not so willing to ‘open themselves to a new horizon’.

    Let us continue to educate ourselves to seek JUSTICE AND GIVE JUSTICE.

    Dr. Kathir

  21. DBS,

    If the politicians of Federal party thought that the government would stand down and give-in to a non-violent protest, they were utter fools. I don’t think they were fools, I think they knew exactly what was coming and they wanted to provoke the government into a violent reaction. Here was a government who had just enacted a draconian and clearly unjust language law, with the support of the majority Sinhalese who went along happily thinking that their language was being given the rightful place without really thinking of the future implications. So why would such a government give-in to the “in your face” tactics of a minority political party? There was no electoral pressure on the government; in fact giving into any FP demands following a sathyagraha would have meant political suicide. So I think the Federal Party knew what was coming and thought that such a reaction would be advantageous to them.

    The other possibility is that Jaffna politicians, coming from the Vellala caste, used to having their way in the caste ridden Jaffna society, expected that their say and demands would be similarly met without any pushback in the greater Ceylonese society too.

    To say that non-violence worked in India so it had to work in Sri Lanka is totally misinterpreting historical Indian situation. India was ruled by the British by a handful of British solders and civil servants who projected their power through a vast army of Indian solders and civil servants. The moment the majority of the Indians refused to cooperate with the Brits, India became ungovernable. All the people who think that Brits were real gentlemen who refused to respond to Gandhi’s tactics with violence should read about their conduct during the Indian mutiny.

    I think FP tactics is similar to what was later tried by the LTTE by attacking Sinhalese civilian targets in order to provoke the Sinhalese into something like the July 83. Of course the scale of provocation by FP and the LTTE can not be compared, but I think in both instances, FP politicians and LTTE leaders were after the same thing.

    Now somebody in an earlier post had a really intriguing idea. I wonder what would have happened, if government also responded in a non-violent manner to the sathyagraha. I wonder what would have happened if government ordered the police to distribute food and water to people who were protesting. May be erected shelters around the protest area and provide transportation for the people to come and go. Now that would have been a very interesting experiment indeed. The protestors probably would have been around for few weeks and then would have gone back to their usual businesses.

    The bottom line is that protests, non-violent or otherwise, will not work in Sri Lanka. The only way to regain the dignity of the Tamils and regain any lost rights is by working with the majority community. It has worked for the Muslim community and the Indian Tamil community and it will be the only way for Jaffna Tamils too.

    I thank you again for this series, which has been an eye opener for me. There are lessons here for all of us, for Sinhalese and for Tamils. I hope we all will learn.

  22. gripping article. One of the best i have read.

    I wonder whether it would have been better if they had not prevented the employees from entering the kacheri.Then there is no excuse at all for the police to lay even their little finger on them.

    By preventing the kacheri from functioning they became a nuisance to the public.Chelva should have waited there with the others when they were getting hammered.I can’t imagine ghandhi going off while his followers are suffering.

    overall a very eventfull day, but my heart goes out to those that were injured.It seems like unnecessary brute force was used by the police. These are the actions that sow the seeds for retaliation in the future.

  23. Thank you DBSJ, great article.

    TAMILS HAD ENOUGH PATIENCE AND NEVER USED VIOLENT PATH TO PROTEST AGAINST SINHALA GOVERNMENTS IN 35 YEARS SINCE 1948. EVEN NELSON MANDELA TO SUFFER ONLY 25 YEARS IN JAIL FOR SOUTH AFRICAN WHITE PRETORIA GOVERNMENT TO CHANGE THEIR MIND TO GIVE FREEDOM TO BLACKS.

    GANDHI OR EVEN JESUS COULD HAVE BEEN CHOOSE VIOLENT PATH IF THEY WERE BORN AS TAMIL IN ILANKAI.

  24. my heart goes to the people who gone in well before 6.30am to protect their jobs,because these wealthy lawyers dont rely on day to day earnings,
    At that time they dosent wants to ener the govt offices as they wished in reality we are now being denied and cant enter in the govt sector well done.

  25. Dear DBS

    I missed the first two parts of your series on Satyagraha 1961. I read the third part first and then went to the first and second and re-read third part again

    It was very gripping and written like a thrilling novel. I never realised political history could be this interesting and informative

    Please continue writing and may the Good Lord bless you and strengthen you

  26. Hi Mr.Jeyaraj

    My Parents are from Jaffna who came to the US in 1985.I was born here in 1987.

    I’ve heard about this Satyagraha from my grandpa who now lives with us. After I saw your articles I told him about it and related the incidents you’ve mentioned.

    His name is Navaratnam.He was a political activist in his youth and participated in Satyagraha.He was one of those injured on the 1st day February 20th as you’ve written.

    My grandpa says you have written the absolute truth about Satyagraha. He was very emotional as he thought back and revived memories.

    Mr.Jeyaraj , he wants very much to talk to you and relate his experiences. Will you have time to talk to him please?

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Yes.of course.Please send me your phone number/s and the best times to call. My mail is -dbsjeyaraj@yahoo.com

  27. Once Gandhi was asked what he would have done against Hitler. He said I remember that with Hitler it would not be possible to do this kind of Satyagraha.

    May be that applies to the Sinhalese as well.

  28. 13. j.muthu:
    You asked why ‘Tamil leaders did not follow the footsteps of Jinna?’

    Tamil longing for a separate country was there in India as well. Mr.EVR Periyar of India asked the British a separate country (Dravida Nadu) for all the Dravidians on racial basis. And that was long before Jinna asked a separate country on religious basis.

    When Dravidians other than Tamils showed less and less interest for separation, however, Periyar and his followers redefined their demand to a ‘Tamil Nadu’ for Tamils. By 1962, interest for separation was developed to such an extent, the DMK decided to stand for 1962 state election on a clear separation ticket. And DMK had increased its share of seats from 15 to 50. Thrilled with the electoral success, 200,000 Periyar’s supporters marched the streets of Chennai on September 22, 1962 to demand a separate country.

    I think it was in these circumstances that Sri Lankan Tamils had enhanced their so far ‘peaceful’ campaigns to a sathiyajgraha. And Sinhala politicians may have been watching what had been going on in Tamil Nadu with contempt.

    Nervous Prime Minister of India, Nehru passed an amendment to the Indian constitution to ban individuals and political parties that promote separation from contesting elections. (Sri Lankan government should have followed India)

    DMK had to choose between losing their parliamentary seats and dropping the demand for separation. The Central Committee of the DMK met at Royapuram on November 3, 1963, and unanimously voted to drop its demand for Separation.

    When Periyar and company realised dividing India to have a separate Tamil country is a near impossibility, they put their kiths and kin in Sri Lanka into top gear to get Eelam on little by little basis. Culmination point was when peaceful protesters declared the infamous Wadukodai resolution in 1976 to divide Sri Lanka by violent means.

    Anyway, when the war was over, Sinhalese expected Tamils to be reasonable. Sinhalese were ready to discuss and meet Tamil demands such as the use of their Language throughout the country and equality etc whatever they complain about in every aspect. And devolution to the lower level or to the grassroots but not to the extent as a roadmap to Eelam or develop fights between PCs, like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India had for Cavery river water. By far majority Sinhalese would never accept homogeneous Tamil province. But, I know no Sinhalese who oppose to have Tamils as his neighbours.

    Unfortunately Tamils do not understand this truth. Moreover, they do not know what they can get and what they cannot. That’s the problem.
    Leela

  29. 13. j.muthu- I think i can point out what was the difference between before the independence and after the independence.Read the folowing facts in the Sir. Pon Ramanathan period will give the answers to all of your questions.

    “British identified as an intellectual – par excellent and as an excellent orator. Sir. P. Ramanathan was very much in the fore front in freedom movement. Perhaps, fortunate that ethnically he belonged to a non majority group, his admirer Right Hon. D.S. Senanayake stood first among equals as Premier.

    During the Widespread Sinhala, Muslim riots from 1915 May 28th to June 5th 1915, the British Governor came down with a heavy hand on Sinhalese community. The Governor declared martial law from June 2nd to August 30th and ordered Army to arrest and imprison severel prominent Sinhala leaders.

    In 1915, Sir. P. Ramanathan took the lead role during the widespread and prolonged Sinhalease-Muslim riots in Ceylon. When he battled for the release of the Sinhalese leaders who were held in detention in October 1915 he even made a hazardous journey to England during the first World War, to present their Case personally. He won their release and on his return the supporters of the Sinhala leaders, showed their love and gratitude by carrying him in a palanquin from the landing jetty to this residence at “Sukhastan” Ward Place in Colombo.

    Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake, D.R. Wijewardana Dr. Cassius Perera, E.T.D. Silva, F.R. Dias Bandaranayake, A.H. Molamure, H. Amarasuriye were among several who were detained in prison. Sir P. Ramanathan was worried over the scenario, he consulted Anagarika Dharmapala. At his request Sri. P. Ramanathan came all out to the rescue of the Sinhala community went against the tyranny of the British Government embarked on a voyage journey. It was with love and gratitude. D.S. Senanayake the first Prime Minister called Ramanathan “the Greatest Ceylonese of all times”. Whereas Sri Baron Jayathilake the Head of the Cabinet in the State Council Complimented him “as the Greatest man Ceylon has produced in the past fifty years.”

    YOU KNOW NEXT 50 YEARS HISTORY WHAT POWER HUNGRY SINHALA RULERS PRODUCED .
    WORTH READING FOLLOWING ARTICLE AS WELL.
    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2008/12/post_151.html

  30. 29. Leela

    When Periyar and company realised dividing India to have a separate Tamil country is a near impossibility, they put their kiths and kin in Sri Lanka into top gear to get Eelam on little by little basis. Culmination point was when peaceful protesters declared the infamous Wadukodai resolution in 1976 to divide Sri Lanka by violent means.

    —————————————

    Yes I accept what you said that there were slogans like Dravidastan and Tamil Nadu for tamils.

    Yes Nehru brought out the resolution in the Parliament to bar the people from contesting elections if they supported separatism.

    I don’t think that the Tamil leaders from India would have or could have incited the sri lankan tamil leaders.

    There were some grievances, may be conceived as genuine grievance by the tamils to pass the vadukkodai resolution.

    Also not only Periyar even some Sikhs had asked for a separate country for themselves from the British.

    even now the Tamils in Sri Lanka will be happy to live as equal and honorable citizens.

    There were many a lost opportunities from both the sides.

    The political process was scuttled by some cantankerous elements of the sinhala community many a times from the period of Budhariktha.

  31. Aney Jeyaraj,You only are the talk of the town now. Lot of my friends are reading the Satyagraha series articles and like it so much. Aau Aau!

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Thank you so much Nelum for saying these nice things. Nice to hear such sweet talk aney.Good to know you have so many friends. Aau Aau!

  32. #13 j. Mutththu
    While Gandhi feels pain because of partisan of India, his followers in this Island also naturally felt the pain. So they did not ask for separation. Actually they are against the separation. They wholeheartedly followed the Gandhi’s bath, as unity is strength they hope unification of prolong colonial power ruled continent at least for some common purpose. But the sweet dream becomes bitter in reality? Now North Sudan leader opinioned that separate North Sudan only give space for mutual understanding with south. So UN is evaluating their situation as in our case.
    An Eelam citizen

  33. I am getting the same feeling of reading “Ponniyin selvan” navel, when I read this article

    I would say this history should be documented by a good director as documentary and should be shown to SL people ( Tamil and Sinhalese)

    Violence for non-violence is a SIN

    good one

  34. 29 Leela,
    Thanks for your information. War over nearly two yrs, any progress towards national reconciliation? Answer is millions of big NO. Very few Sinhala people enjoy the fruits of peace while most still suffering same as most Tamils still suffering. Only thing Tamils relieve from without war no bombing and shelling. Your Sinhala leaders never allow your people or my people live in peace. Any way Tamils future must be decided by Tamils not by Sinhala people. It will happen.
    31 Native Tamil
    Thanks for your information. I heard from difference sources, Sir Pon Ramanathan hate low caste Tamils. Love vellala and high class tamils. Simply worst saathi weriyan, is it true. I still believe we tamils never had charismatic leader. Praba had a brilliant chance to solve this problem; he missed it because never listened any one. We Tamils paid big price for his madness.

  35. Hi DBS,
    This part of the series is all actions like a movie setting. Even the background information after 50 yrs still news to majority of the community. I learnt late Mr.Amirtalingam was in active politics from those days and his assassination shocked me why such a leader was eliminated.

    Actually I asked my mother about her recollection of sathyagrah events in that era. She said the difficulties faced by Tamil community was not well articulated by the press other than altercations and selective political events. As Tamil citizens have been living for so long in S Lanka and have established own language, religion and culture which is different from Sinhalese,imposing Sinhala only in a radical way obviously created hardships to anyone who hasn’t studied the language. Sinhalese have no right to comment about Tamil caste system which is part and parcel of Hinduism.S.Lanka’s fundamentals are different based on Buddhist principles.
    SJV seemed a wiseman put his proposition diplomatically without involving India and being a Christian he could rally Hindu population for his cause. Later both sides of politics failed to understand that ‘politics is the art of compromise’ then thing turned nasty.As LTTE hijacked the agenda real issues were overshadowed.

    #21 Dr Kathir, you hit the nail on the head, language was the main issue. As it says if you speak to someone in his own language you are speaking to his heart.
    You need to have peace to concentrate and comprehend. Must start with a fresh page avoiding pit falls as bitter lessons were learnt. Key point is to separate real issues otherwise there will be pre-emptive attempts to distort the picture and play the same old game by opportunistic politicians.

  36. 36 j muthu & 29 Leela

    I personally don’t know Sir Pon Ramanathan hate low caste Tamils and Love vellala and high class tamils. when his first wife died he married english lady and later he show more intrest in spritual life didn’t continue his political life.

    In his common life he built Parameshwara College(Today Jaffna University ) and Ramanathan College on his own land for all Tamil Sathi – not for ‘Vellala’

    “Ramanathan’s perseverance for the Tamil cause did not confine itself only to that of the Tamils of indigenous origin but also to the upcountry (plantation) Tamils.

    He defended their right to voting rights in his speech in the Legislative Assembly [Page 1791 Hansard Volume 111-1928] “ The Sinhalese tossed in a storm 2,500 years ago were washed ashore on this island. How can they make up their minds and call for the ‘Indians’ to “Get Out “ The upcountry worker of India arrived in this island under different circumstances. The Sinhalese would not kill a scorpion or a snake and choose to shoo them away. (But) their conduct in this instance was not consistent with the Buddha Dhamma and Santhana dharma.”

    He was the first stateman who fought for Tamils rights
    when Donoughmore Constitution (1931)replaced the Legislative Council with the State Council of Ceylon.
    Finaly heart broken Pon. Ramanathan said ‘Donougmore Tamils no more’

    Compare to laxman kathirkamar who was the only tamil gained the higest post in srilankan history (Damage Tamils strugle by campaigning ‘Terrorist’ propaganda) Sir Pon.Ramanathan did lot to consider as one of the charismatic leader.

    His brother Sir Pon Arunachalam resigned from the CNC(1921) in the wake of Sinhala extremism within the CNC, to form the Ceylon Tamil League and mention the word first time ! ” We tamils need to protect our Tamil Eelam by our proud cultural values..”

    29 Leela

    When Periyar and company put their kiths and kin in Sri Lanka into top gear to get Eelam ?

    Before J.R Jeyawarthana carry separated NorthEast province map from srinalka against B-C pact on infamous Kandy march (1957) or After?

    It is not homogeneous Tamil province.
    It is indigenous Tamils province.

  37. Dear DBS,
    I salute to your immense effort and contribution to document the history of our community. You have taken great pain and efforts to put it in words than anybody in history and there is no words to praise you. I used to forward your articles to my kids and often times your detail documentary is an excellent source for our discussions in order to bring a better understanding.

    In fact, I would like to suggest Dr. Kathir’s (#21) idea of translating your articles into Sinhalese.

    Sathguna

  38. 19. Andy lingam | March 7th, 2011 at 11:49 am
    Thanks D.B.S Jeyaraj
    Very good article ,Both comunities should read & comments
    Helloooo ..Our Sinhala Brothers & Sisters ,any one in home?
    ———————————————————–

    The day before jaffna vegitables fludded on Dambulla special economis centre. Jaffna farmers added extra 10 k.g. for ecch 100 weights. All moneys are now gone for farmer,s hands simultaniously southern vegitable price issharply go down.
    On the other hand jaffna fishemen launched an opose india program for invading their fish land to India.
    These things itself exibit what nothern people want. They do’nt want seperate state or even pederal states. These things are want for the tamils who residing out sri lanka.
    Be stay as what you now be. Leave srilanka as it is.

  39. #37-Laksman

    I learnt late Mr.Amirtalingam was in active politics from those days and his assassination shocked me why such a leader was eliminated.
    _____________________________

    Another big mistake by the LTTE. At his funeral the entire jaffna was there defying the LTTE.

    The reason he was killed was he opposed the withdrawal of the IPKF when Premedasa wanted it to go. His contention was that there should be an alternative arrangement for the security of the tamils before asking IPKF to leave.

    Even before that he was on the hitlist of the LTTE because he was the one who got Rajiv to sign the accord with india. Initially India only wanted to be the facilitator and guarantor , and for the GOSL and the militant groups to sign the accord.Amirthalingam said that it was a waste of time for tamils to sign anything with the GOSL, citing past accords, and wanted rajiv to personally sign it with JR. The LTTE was mad with him over that.

    He, kathirgamar and tiruchelvam,rajiv paid the price for going in a path which opposed the interests of the LTTE. Simple as that, nothing to wonder about,why they were killed.

    That madman Prabhakaran had a simple philosophy in life, with his limited brainpower. If he saw anyone be it the pope or obama or hujintao doing anything that opposed the LTTE interest, kill him. He could not see the big picture, like the helicopter view of a town as opposed to driving through a street, which shows how everything is interconnected.

  40. #30-palan

    Palan, giving the link for that article by DBSJ on the banda -chelva pact was great. thanks.

    I noticed that in that article it was mentioned that the buses with sri in sinhala was tar brushed in the north and sinhalese retaliated by erasing tamil letters in street names. I’am wondering whether these people are mature adults or schoolchildren. No wonder we are still a developing country when the so called adults haveonly matured externally,but not internally.

    After spending so much time on an accord, they go and tarbrush the buses, and give an excuse for SWRD to tear up the accord.

    I noticed that some people were not happy with the non amalgamation of the north and east and would have probably like to sabotage the accord. They must have now left to more comfortable environments abroad spawning children and grandchildren there, while their brethren who could not leave have to fend for themselves here.I suppose the buses are still running with the sri on them in jaffna. If so as there last dying action why don’t they come back and tarbrush at least one of them and incur the wrath of gota, defiant to the end.

  41. 29. Leela
    Anyway, when the war was over, Sinhalese expected Tamils to be reasonable. Sinhalese were ready to discuss and meet Tamil demands such as the use of their Language throughout the country and equality etc whatever they complain about in every aspect. And devolution to the lower level or to the grassroots but not to the extent as a roadmap to Eelam or develop fights between PCs, like Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in India had for Cavery river water. By far majority Sinhalese would never accept homogeneous Tamil province. But, I know no Sinhalese who oppose to have Tamils as his neighbours.

    Unfortunately Tamils do not understand this truth. Moreover, they do not know what they can get and what they cannot. That’s the problem.
    Leela
    ________________________________

    Leela u have summerised the Sri lankan majority sentiments. I have been posting many comments to part 1 & 2 on this line.

    The inability of tamils to look beyound their demands had caused more destruction and self harm.

    Yes the sinhala governments had done wrong in passing an unjust language law and suppressing non violent stuggles in a musculine way.

    In retrospect the shortsighted actions & reaction fo the successive governments have given fuel to the tamil stuggle.

    many tamils commenting on this blog are long departed from SL and they live in the history not in present realities.

    separate state/ federalism is the only thing these expatriates could dream of. no other solutions to reach an understanidng of all communities in this small island nantion is taboo for them.

    Their bigtory and inflexibility is delibarate. as they want this ethinc wound to be raw forever so their kith & kin can get asylum in the west.

    ” the greatest missery is to have sight but no viosion” true to all Sri Lankan politicians be it sihala or tamil.

    Muslim & upcountry tamil leaders in the past acted wisely and this should be acknowledged.

  42. DBSJ,
    Congrats your doing a great job. your article is brilliant.

    God is with you don’t give up. continue to quench the thirst for the truth.

    In a hurry I missed this in my previous comment.

  43. #43-TRN

    Their bigtory and inflexibility is delibarate. as they want this ethinc wound to be raw forever so their kith & kin can get asylum in the west.
    _——————————————-

    So why does mahinda not heal the wound.That way there won’t be any asylum seekers in the future.

    The wound is in srilanka isn’t it, not in toronto, sydney or london.Who is at the moment responsible for the country?It is mahinda isn’t it?Or is it the tamil expatriates in western capitals?As usual don’t try to find tamil scapegoats for your own governments misdeeds.

    1.Who made the wound unnecessarily big by slaughtering civilians in the last stages of the war?

    2.Who brought upon themselves human rights and war crimes investigations on themselves?

    3. Who incarcerated 3000000 civilians behind barbed wire fences for more than a year.

    4. Who sexually abused women while they were in camps and also using pimps like karuna and douglas for sexual gratification of army personnel even now?

    5. Who made so many dissapear while they were in the camps?

    These are just some of the things that come to my mind that have made the wound that was already there due to past injustices much more bigger today.

    All these were done by these damn tamil expatriates.

    Now list out to me what mahinda has done to heal these wounds.

    Isn’t it in his hands and his only to do that? Why drag expatriates into this, because whatever they may want whether it is seperation or federalism, they don’t have the power to get it for the tamils.

    If mahinda has healed the wound why does he not say so?He can always say there is no ethnic problem anymore?I have healed the wound completely.

    Or he can say this is my home grown solution to heal this wound. There will be development and devolution in the northeast. Very basic powers will be devolved.The chief ministers can have the power to make there own decisions in basic matters that are not of significant national importance, without colombo’s approval.

    After implementing that he can say the wound is healed. why is he not doing it. Then we can see after some time whether he is indeed right and there is no ethnic problem anymore.

    He has also another option. Keep the wound raw forever and let the tamils find asylum, and fill the vacant places with soldiers and their families and fisherfolk from the south to keep an eye out for national security. In fact he once said he wished all the people in the refugee camp were given asylum by canada.If that had happenned you would be still blaming them 10 years later as tamil expatriates not letting the wound to heal.

    Only thing i can tell you is whichever option mahinda chooses which is 1)give the minimum to the tamils and play hardball as usual like SWRD, Sirimavo etc 2) give nothing at all and colonise the north and east, the other camp will also not be sleeping and we will have very interesting years ahead and one day it will blow up in the future generations faces. It will certainly not happen on mahinda’s watch, though the momentum will be building year after year.

    In a nutshell i tell you if indeed you think there is a wound the medicine is with you, the sinhalese people and your leaders.. The question is are you willing to give the medicine or do you dislike the patient,or is it just your cussard nature, or a mixture of both that you don’t want to give it, or you would prefer to give it in little little doses to prolong the suffering and delay the healing as much as possible.In the meantime don’t come running with a massive containerload of medicine when it is too late, and the patient says thanks, but i’am being now looked after by someone else.

    .

  44. 43-TRN
    The inability of tamils to look beyound their demands had caused more destruction and self harm.

    – By Whom ? If this is their democratic demand why you caused destruction?

    Yes the sinhala governments had done wrong in passing an unjust language law and suppressing non violent stuggles in a musculine way.

    – So What is the remedy?

    In retrospect the shortsighted actions & reaction fo the successive governments have given fuel to the tamil stuggle.

    – Who you blaming?

    many tamils commenting on this blog are long departed from SL and they live in the history not in present realities.

    – Why are you allowing the same history repeating agin by your action?

  45. Pon Ramanathan – Grand Father of our Nation
    Thanthai Selva – Father of our Nation
    V.Pirabaharan – Son of our Nation

    Grand son of the Nation should have been born somewhere.

  46. #47-family tree

    SWRD-grandfather of our nation
    Sirimavo-grandmother of our nation
    mahinda-father of our nation
    chandrika-mother of our nation
    wijeweera-son of our nation
    Namal-grandson of our nation

  47. 29 Leela,

    I agree with you 100%, I can imagine with whats happening in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya and Bahrain.

    Yes if there was any encouragement of a Tamil nation within India, then it would definitely have had influence on Sri Lanka.

    DBS article could be perhaps better understood within a framework of the greater Tamil political aspiration at that time.

    There is no doubt that at meeting conducted by the Federal party there would have been many who would have said – ‘ See what DMK is doing, they are brave enough to take on the Indian Govt. ‘. At the same time India would have been vary of and WILL be vary of a seperate Tamil state in Sri Lanka which would re-fuel cries for a Tamil Nadu in Southern India. If one watches the political moves and corruption of the present Karunanidhi clan and ministers in the scandal, I am sure that Karunanidhi would like to be President of Tamil Nadu not answerable to anyone.

    As long as India will not allow a seperate Tamil State neither will she allow Sri Lanka to give Eelam irrespective of the wishes of the Tamils or Singhalese.

  48. Can someone say those Satyagrahas were manhandled by police only because they were tamil satyagrahas. Wouldn’t it be the same if a section of sinhalese ask for rights in whatever means? I mean something challenging the demography, geography of the country… How many times sinhala leftists, unions, university students have been beaten by police and even fired at for petty reasons, leave alone federal demands?

    Why tamils attribute every single action of the state against its public (whether fair or not) for something by sinhalese against tamils? (Fundamental attribution error in social psychology)

    In this part of the world, not only police, even general public and politicians who lead them too are not disciplined. So the result is obviously violant or physical unlike in London. When you talk about these you must talk about the whole package, not only isolated matters for your own interests.

    Even a dog or cat in London and Sri Lanka are different from each other and you would say dog in London is better disciplined than SL’s stray dog. .. 🙂

  49. 50 Chinthaka-

    Yes you are right in the Dog matter. My dad visited to London asked the same question. “Why London dogs not barking like Srilankan’s dogs when it saw another dog?”

    I replied him “London dogs are educated “

    But in human case, Are the state Police and Army behaving like Thugs and Gangs acceptable? Or Are Politicians using this Thugs and Gangs to create riots and violent justifiable?

    I mean Torture, Abuse, Abduction, Rape and Extrajudicial Killings. Please don’t say Horror common in this part of the world or in our ‘Proud Paradise’

    Ask your self , what is the Fundamental attribution error in social psychology?

    Ok I will come to the point. Why Tamils attribute every single action of the state against its public (whether fair or not) for something by sinhalese against tamils?

    SL State always representing whom? Who’s Ideology causing trouble against fundamental rights? Who is the majority chose this kind of State Governments?

    Yes you are right in the Dog matter. My dad visited to London asked the same question. “Why London dogs not barking like Srilankan’s dogs when it saw another dog?”
    I replied him “London dogs are educated “

    But in human case, Are the state Police and Army behaving like Thugs and Gangs acceptable? Or Are Politicians using this Thugs and Gangs to create riots and violent justifiable?
    I mean Torture, Abuse, Abduction, Rape and Extrajudicial Killings. Please don’t say Horror common in this part of the world or in our ‘Proud Paradise’ what is the Fundamental attribution error in social psychology?

    Ok come to the point. Why Tamils attribute every single action of the state against its public (whether fair or not) for something by sinhalese against tamils?
    State always representing whom? Who’s Ideology causing trouble against fundamental rights? Who is the majority chose this kind of State Governments?

    leave alone London dogs and lets educate local dogs..

  50. 40 WATHSALA

    Are you retail sales man/ women?

    How much are Freedom, Democracy, Justice in your market?

    Please offer this to northeast people that you have mentioned.

    This is the big fish they always want to catch not small fishes between srilankan and Indian water.

  51. 48. shankar & 45. shankar !

    Are you not split personality ?

    Grand father under influence of Bikkus to get in power and shot dead by the same group.

    Grand Mother organised this plot (is it true?)
    to get the same power.

    Father always under the feet of the Mother until get the Power .Mother use the word ‘Peace’ to get in the Power then changed ‘War for Peace’

    Son killed by the same family because not obeying to their power.

    Grand son ha..ha….

    http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2011/2/64968_space.html

    What a family ? What a power hungry?

  52. 52. International Justice | March 11th, 2011 at 9:32 am
    40 WATHSALA

    Are you retail sales man/ women?

    How much are Freedom, Democracy, Justice in your market?

    Please offer this to northeast people that you have mentioned.

    This is the big fish they always want to catch not small fishes between srilankan and Indian water.
    ———————————————————————
    Did you see yesterday night t.v. which Mr, responded questions from the people who are in all parts of the island. Vownia people asked for houses and renavation for their tanks for cultivation. A tamil man fron Passara asked for pay hike and facilities for learn sinhala.

    Not a single tamil person asked for federal states or equal rigths or ect. That’ how normal peopls are thinking.
    So you and your internationa groups are not our citisions.Be there and die there. We don’t want you ,your money or your advice.

  53. 42. shankar

    After the new regulation on Sri, V.Navaratnam used to run in a car with both Tamil ஸ்ரீ and Sinhala ශ්‍රී and the Court ruled it was not against the Law.

    Premadasa easily solved the problem by replacing the Sri with a dash – .
    RP had the guts and will to solve the ethnic problem but VP was not prepared for a Democratic setup.

    29. Leela
    Sinhalese were ready to discuss and meet Tamil demands

    What is more to discuss-unless it is another dragging exercise.
    For months and years the matter had been discussed and what’s missing is the will to solve the problem; as of late some even suggest that there is no problem.
    There are already enough documents prepared after extensive discussions and to name a few:

    • BC Pact-1957
    • DC Pact-1965
    • Annexure C-1983
    • Thimpu Declaration-1985
    • Indo Lanka Agreement-1987
    • Constitution Bill – Aug 2000
    • Experts Report -2006

  54. # 51
    But in human case, Are the state Police and Army behaving like Thugs and Gangs acceptable? Or Are Politicians using this Thugs and Gangs to create riots and violent justifiable?

    I mean Torture, Abuse, Abduction, Rape and Extrajudicial Killings. Please don’t say Horror common in this part of the world or in our ‘Proud Paradise’
    ___________________________________________

    What I was trying to say was, it happens to anybody irrespective of sinhala or tamil, so you don’t have a case here to mourn about tamils getting discriminated. You need to understand if there’s something of that nature to be prevented, it needs to be done as a united country by being among sinhalese, muslims without trying to corner your self as tamils as if only happened to you. That is selfishness… Well you know better about it than me right?

  55. # 51
    SL State always representing whom? Who’s Ideology causing trouble against fundamental rights? Who is the majority chose this kind of State Governments?
    ___________________________________________

    SL state represent SL people.

    There was no ideology here other than the Tamil terrorist ideology of which the military wing was successfully defeated, but its political side is still there.

    If you said sinhalese majority chose this govt, then it was because your tamil minority chose LTTE as their saviours.

    Remember: Old sinhalese chauvenists’ actions could have had LTTE’s reaction. But it went too much out of the way and for it to be balanced Sinhalese had MR govt as reaction for the LTTE’s extremist actions. So until that LTTE climate’s actions stop permanently you will see some kind of reactions, but well within the limits unlike LTTE did. 🙂

  56. dear jey,
    rather interesting discussions under this article though not related to satyagraha but related to present political situation in srilanka.i have been reading ranjan torontos comments since inception what i am seeing is from being a moderate to the present job of defending srilanka it is really amusing but i beg to differ ranjan if i have to quote subramaniya bharathis verse ayiram undu ingal jathi anniyar ithil puguvathu enna neethi srilankan tamils have caste identities no doubt about it vellalas have been dominant faction and they have dominated the political landscape but that cant be an excuse for sinhalese politicians to cold shoulder legitimate demands of srilankan tamils as a whole.if caste is a barometer even sinhalese are riven by caste identities i guess govigamas have been at the helm of the affairs since srilanka got its independence except for a brief period of r.premadasa.more than the caste issues in sinhala society sinhalese who claim to be true followers of buddha have resorted to violence like any other group.be it 1958 riots or 1983 holocaust it was the handiwork of sinhalese can they justify what they did to tamils.sinhalese have to introspect not only their past but also the present tigers have been their favourite whipping boy no longer that factor is there.sinhalese given the fact that they dont have a violent resurrection in their backyard do they need a regime of mahinda who has stifled judiciary,press,poor people and whose only aim is to perpetuate dynastic rule just becoz he annihilated tamil tigers.mahindas regime will prove to be more harmful to sinhalese than tamils as i have pointed out before atleast tamils becoz of diaspora and international community will not suffer but sinhalese will definitely do.what is the need of the hour in srilanka it is every poor should get three meals a day is srilankan government doing it?no inflation is ravaging the nation and it is the poor who will be sufferers sinhalese have to wake up to the reality and i hope that their aspirations and preferences change.

  57. 45. Shankar
    In a nutshell i tell you if indeed you think there is a wound the medicine is with you, the sinhalese people and your leaders.. The question is are you willing to give the medicine or do you dislike the patient,or is it just your cussard nature, or a mixture of both that you don’t want to give it, or you would prefer to give it in little little doses to prolong the suffering and delay the healing as much as possible.In the meantime don’t come running
    ____________________________________

    Now please don’t get emotional, be rational. The problems the people in N& E be it tamil, moslem or sinhala are far greater than political.

    i am not a political ally. I do not trust any politician either. I honestly do not know if MR will play the a great physicians role.

    But its best for u people is to change ur strategy than reversing back to square one. Its your choice. Yes history will repeat if we keep hanging on to the past.

    What we are trying to tell is the 50yr old federalism and N &E merger had not been excepted by the majority of sri lankans.

    So please wake up and see the bigger picture. fight for equal rights !! language, education, health and housing. This is what the majority of Sri lankans need. The political solutions is a far cry.

    From the present political developments i can’t see anything beyound district counsils. It will be a game of ‘take it or leave it’ with MR.

    I am sorry tamils got the best chance with RW when he offered in a platter a political solution but who blew it off. If LTTE allowed the northern people to vote the history would have been different. The south would have been burning if RW gave the ISGA to N& E. Don’t forget the sins of political blunders made by tamils leaders and point fingers only at sinhala majority.

    We do accept the wrongs of the past sinhala politicians and they were voted out of power by the majority. some were killed by the LTTE. Now all of us are left with MR & his brothers thanks to LTTE.

    I personally will like if all the suffering people of SL could get asylum in some other wealthy country. As our politicians are playing with their lives. Please mind u its not only tamils that are suffering.
    The country as a whole is at a decisive junction see the bigger picture. Its the hour we need leaders with wisdom.

    please read my previous comment to part -2 if I remeber it was #76.. quoated from N-S dialog. About the type of leadership we need is explained well by our future generations. seems wiser than us.

    Isn’t it in his hands and his only to do that? Why drag expatriates into this, because whatever they may want whether it is seperation or federalism, they don’t have the power to get it for the tamils. In a nutshell i tell you if indeed you think there is a wound the medicine is with you, the sinhalese people and your leaders.. The question is are you willing to give the medicine or do you dislike the patient,or is it just your cussard nature, or a mixture of both that you don’t want to give it, or you would prefer to give it in little little doses to prolong the suffering and delay the healing as much as possible.In the meantime don’t come running with a massive containerload of medicine when it is too late, and the patient says thanks, but i’am being now looked after by someone else.

    _________________________________

  58. 56. 57 Chinthaka

    Thats why we are on the forefront to bring Justice,Democracy and real Freedom to all the people ofisland of Lanka. It is you in the self fishness not joining with us to bring the 21 century most wanted criminals to front of the justice and corner your self as Sinhalese.

    Until you habouring this kind of ‘Mahintha Ideology’ and stlil defending your views by name of LTTE will only repeat the same.

    Tamil Politics for self rule estabilised long ago,
    even before ltte military wing born.ethinic problem is not the one that LTTE created. It is your leaders and your people in 58,77,83.

    Why don’t you join with us for reasonable political solution for Tamils and long lasting peace for all?well you know beterthan me …your people.

  59. #i am copying my previous post in part -2 for those who missed it.

    79. TRN | March 5th, 2011 at 2:55 am

    To all adults who are pointing fingers at each other and many who had never sited the war affected areas. I came across a small booklet written by 20 southern Sri Lankan school prefects in May 2010. They have visited the war victims and war displaced (mannar , mullathieuv, vavniya) and written this as a reflection.

    These are youngsters in their 17, 18 yrs of age. this will be an eye opener to all. This struck a cord within my heart and even in midst of a busy shcedule I’m taking time to type this long essay. Please read slowly and to the end.

    The learning points of the exposure:

    * they( war victims) had merger facilities but always welcomed us with a big smile.
    * In Arippu O/L pass rate was 72% highest result 7As & B. They have never gone for tution classes. they had to walk many Kms to get to school. they got their text books only few months before the exam. they only studied with day light as there is lack of electricity.

    *the determination of the A/L students to to get in to university, inturn to be productive to the society and serve the country.

    *The northern students told ‘we have no grudge or hatred towards the sihala people but we don’t like politicians who never treat them equally as with the people of the south’

    * Also said ‘we may be the minority of this country but we are not inferior to the majority’

    * there were many men in detension camps and their families were desperate without any help and not knowing when they would be freed.
    * some were unhappy about Army presence in their neighbourhood, felt insecure. Also some of their properties were yet to be released by the armed forces.

    * they were in need of basic facilities like health, education, transport, safe drinking water, ect.

    What the student leaders from the south felt after the exposure and what they feel about the future & reconcilliation in SL :

    * We have seen and experienced the agony and suffering of the northern victims of war. All of us in the larger society have to listen to these inner voices. Wish the southeners who travel to north will empathise with their agony rather than only site seeing.

    *Only by visiting these areas one can get the true picture of reality and the needs of these unfortunate people.

    *their physical wounds may have healed but the wounds within their hearts & mind are very raw. It will be a long process searching for true peace within their hearts.

    * All Sri lankans what ever race, religion or caste, should be equally respected and hounered and given equal oppertunity in life.

    * Today southerners are suspecious about the northerners & northerners still ponder in their wounds and anxious about the future.

    *Peace should be built on strong foundations. all citizens should have equal rights and oppertunities. life should be preserved and counted as sacred.

    * We need a national leader accepted by all communities.
    * A leader with good values and principals. Its best at present to have a very open minded southern leader to be the voice of the voiceless people of the north.

    * There should emerge sinhala leaders to speak for the rights of the minorities. he/ she must be a catalyst for an emerging tamil-muslim leadrship.
    * A true leader should have deep compassion for the voiceless people of our society.

    * first and foremost i need to feel that fellow humans are my brothers and sisters regardless of ethnicity , relegion or caste.
    *I need to change my attitude towards the victims.

    *Its important to develop a vision in young adults which will be productive to the society.

    * we need to educate young adults with greater awareness of our country’s situation, history and polity.
    *We should recognise and prioritise our urgent needs.

    *Policy makers should ensure that justice, equality and human dignity is preserved in law and in the society as a whole.

    *Life is sacred and it has to be protected and promoted.

    Quoted from
    North-south dialog desk / ANAWIM

  60. 54. wathsala

    If u keep a person long suffering and without food he will definitely ask food it doesn’t mean he don’t have any other needs and he don’t need freedom in his life.

    What a stupid argument u have and that poor man represented the entire Tamil wants

    Aney Wasala

  61. 51. BRITISH TAMIL | March 11th, 2011 at 6:57 am

    50 Chinthaka-

    ___________________________

    Whom are you referring as ‘DOGs” ?
    Politicians ?

  62. 62. Palani | March 15th, 2011 at 6:34 am
    54. wathsala

    If u keep a person long suffering and without food he will definitely ask food it doesn’t mean he don’t have any other needs and he don’t need freedom in his life.

    What a stupid argument u have and that poor man represented the entire Tamil wants

    Aney Wasala
    ———————————————————————

    Dear friend,
    You are still in nandikadal 2009 where those people urge for life. Did you see hoe they ran into SL army for protecting theit livef from brutal LTTE.

    Now situation was completely changed. Now they want to get higher prices for their vegitable and fish. All vegitables noe coming DAMBULLA special economic centre. This leads to decrease the price too. The northen farmers are so happy. They adding aditional 10 kg for each 100 weight at free cost.

    Friend please be good to vishualising the situation of nothern people. They did not asked for equal rights or federal for them. They did not asked for free gods as aids for their living.

    Therefore I am repeating that equal rits and federal are your problem but not ours.

    SO WHY DON’T YOU ASKING THESE THINGS FROM THE COUNTRIES WHERE YOU ARE STAYING PERMENENTLY.

  63. # 60 British Tamil

    Thats why we are on the forefront to bring Justice,Democracy and real Freedom to all the people ofisland of Lanka. It is you in the self fishness not joining with us to bring the 21 century most wanted criminals to front of the justice and corner your self as Sinhalese.

    ++ Why did you all of sudden develope an interest on taking criminals to court. We have done that already and even have sent the worst criminals 6 feet underground.

    Until you habouring this kind of ‘Mahintha Ideology’ and stlil defending your views by name of LTTE will only repeat the same.

    ++ You guys only harbour the backdrop of LTTE ideology. There’s nothing wrong harbouring Mahinda Chinthana as it’s a democratic concept unlike LTTE’s racist ideologies.

    Tamil Politics for self rule estabilised long ago,Nothing was estasblished.

    ++ It was a onesided conclusion reached out of frustration when there was no fair dealing to tamils matters then unlike today. It’s NOT applicable anymore.

    even before ltte military wing born.ethinic problem is not the one that LTTE created. It is your leaders and your people in 58,77,83.

    ++ Welcome to the 21st century…!!!!

    Why don’t you join with us for reasonable political solution for Tamils and long lasting peace for all?well you know beterthan me …your people.

    ++ We will join you when your mindset is ready to accept united Sri Lanka, and you are ready to live among us, NOT separate from us.

  64. DBSJ.

    You are trying to emphasisd that the tamil strugle continued because of SINHALA PEOPLE were not positively responed for so called inocent SATHYAGARA which tokk place on the year 1956.

    Is it true why SJE organised the party for seperate state in 1949. Furthermore why G.G.P. asked separate state feom DONOURMERE.

    If you are thinking that the sinhalees are foolish, I only reminde you that you are misunderstood sinhala nationalism.

    samarasekara

    Is your stupidity inherited,aquired or both?…………..DBSJ

  65. I am responding to the below comment;
    *************************************************************
    #28. Mahesh | March 8th, 2011 at 9:17 am

    Once Gandhi was asked what he would have done against Hitler. He said I remember that with Hitler it would not be possible to do this kind of Satyagraha.

    May be that applies to the Sinhalese as well
    ———————————————————————–
    Yes Mahesh,you are 100% correct, though, you (all) had to learn it in a very expensive manner in 2009.

  66. Hi Gloria, I know of a Gloria Abraham from Wattegama, sister of Jessie Abraham. Both of them were studying at Uddupiddy American Mission Girls College. Earlier they studied at Batticaloa. I wonder if you are the same person. If so kindly contact me. I am Balasunderam now living in England. My email – b_kandiah@yahoo.co.uk. Best Regards.

  67. Dear Gloria
    The Satyagraha Movement initiated by the Federal Party was a great success. It was a non violent reaction to a violent reaction by the majority.I wasa student at Jaffna College, Vaddukoddai and a young member of the Federal Party, and my father, Notary Public Kandiah from Kalmunai was a Central Committee member of that party. My father and my mother actively took part in the Satyagraha. We were very close to SJV, Amirthalingham, Navaratnam, EMV Naganathan,Rajadurai, Kasi Ananthan, Rasamanickam, to name a few.DBS had mentioned my father as Notaries Kandiah- Tamil activist, in one of his articles. Federal Party actively took part in reconciliatory talks with the Government.Even Mr.Dahanaike &Dudly Senanaike came to Kalmunai to take part in the Federal Party convention. The Tamils tried everything to reach a peaceful settlement.All in vain.Ugly communal rivalry prevailed in the end.

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