Colombo Telegraph

Burning Memories – Jaffna Library- 31st May 1981

The library was once one of the largest in Asia and a source of enormous pride for the Tamil community.

But the building was torched in 1981, during riots following the shooting of three Sinhalese police at a Tamil political rally. As result, almost 100,000 books were destroyed, including irreplaceable manuscripts written on palm leaves. A treasure trove of Tamil culture and history was lost forever.

Almost 20 years later, the library was fully rebuilt by the government.

However the restoration itself is generating controversy. Many local Tamils feel it is an attempt to whitewash the past, and believe the ruins should have remained as a permanent memorial.

Burning Memories – Documented by Mr.Someetharan. This is only a part. For full CD contact him on


Culture Clash : Jaffna public Library


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