Today 20 May, Jaffna’s Headquarters Inspector Prasad Fernando (who on the 19th had asked us detailed questions on the religion of every member of the Ahmadi family) asked us to return to the Police Station. Forms I had filled up to register the Ahmadis were returned to us and we were told they cannot stay because according to their intelligence reports Hindu nationalists were planning to attack them and they wanted no Muslim refugees in Jaffna. He said he had been ordered by his superiors to ask the Ahmadis to leave Jaffna. He let it slip that he wants no trouble by having Muslim refugees in Jaffna. I protested and told him that I have the fundamental right to host any family at my home and asked who had told him to deny us registration. “I do not know about that” he said and stood up signalling us thereby to leave.
I appealed to persons in Colombo. The Speaker spoke to DIG/Jaffna and told me to call DIG/Jaffna. When I did, he told us that the Governor wants no refugee in Jaffna and wanted the Ahmadis to report at Poonthoddam Camp in Vavuniya. Inquiries revealed that some 35 refugees were there, all men. How could children be sent there?It was strange indeed that the DIG was overridden by the Governor on security matters.
Father Ponniah and I were called to meet the Governor at 4:00 pm. It was clear to me that the Governor was all out to please the President by showing his Poonthoddam solution was a great achievement. To this end I believe that he is cooking up this threat from Hindu nationalists using the Valampuri Editor’s writings. He was visibly angry that I contacted the Speaker. I responded that the Speaker is a neutral, widely respected elected official and the Chairman of the Constitutional Council that recommended my appointment; whereas meeting him the Governor is a lot worse because he is not elected and is acting on powers usurped from Provincial Councils by avoiding elections. He went on to quote his powers from the Thirteenth Amendment.
He said this argument confirms reports he has that I fight everywhere. I responded that I fight only when people break the law as he is doing, and that he is taking us back to Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s eviction of Tamils from Colombo in 2007. After he raised the fact I am a US-Sri Lanka dual citizen and that as a Marxist he does not like America, I told him he is acting just like what the Americans did in locking up Japanese during WWII. .He accused me of being a follower of Billy Graham which I have never been, forcing me to respond that he is the one who was once working for (the American) Youth for Christ in Jaffna.
He insisted that the Ahmadis should go to his Poonthoddam. I said I need time to consult legal opinion on whether my rights are being violated. He gave me till Friday and assured me at my request that no soldier or policeman would come home till Friday. He then told Father Ponniah that the he is aware that Father Ponniah is also having a family of 4. The Ahmadis in coming to Jaffna had stopped at his place and he had joined them to my home. Obviously we are already a police state with spies watching even the Archdeacon of Jaffna.
Alas, at 8:50 pm a police jeep parked outside my home. By the time my children reported it to me, and I came out, they had taken off. A priest suggested that the police and were not beyond getting goons to assault the Ahmadis and claiming that Hindu fanatics had done it.
The Ahmadis are in panic. They decided they are leaving immediately to an unnamed place out of Jaffna. They did not even care to pick up their water filter and other things they had bought for their use in Jaffna. At 9:10 pm as they left 2 more policemen came and waited at our gate till the Ahmadis left. The police had got their way by planting imagined threats of assault by Hindu nationalists.
Such is the worth of our Northern Governor’s solemn word!