20 May, 2024


N. Vethanayagan – Vengeful Forced Retirement By Government

By N. Lohathayalan

N. Lohathayalan

After 29 years of service through the thick and thin of war, Jaffna’s most popular Government Agent, N. Vethanayagan from Alaveddy, has been disgracefully discarded and put to pasture.

Educated at Alaveddy’s Saantha Vithyasaalai to Grade 3 and then to Grade 8 at Arunodaya College, he completed his schooling at Mahajana College from where he was selected to the University of Jaffna. There he completed his bioscience degree studies in 1984.

Teachers’ Service and then SLAS

After serving at the university from 1985 to 1986, he joined the Teachers’ Service in 1986, and served in Mallavi Central College, which was in the centre of war operations involving the IPKF.

He was selected for the Sri Lanka Administrative Service on 19 April 1991, and completed his initial training at Home Affairs on 3 May, 1992 and earned his MA degree in General Leadership and General Administration.

War Experience

The War was into its second stage when Vethanayagan was posted to the Neduntheevu Pirathesa Sabai on 4 May, 1991. This was the time that on account of the assault on Jaffna Fort, Mandaitivu Bridge was closed. There were only two palmyra tree logs to make a crucial crossing. Vethanayagan had to cross across  these logs, and then board the boat Kumudhini and make his way to work in Neduntheevu. Much of his travelling was on a push-bike. This was the lot of Tamils selected to the prestigious SLAS! Colombo officials had fancy cars.

At the time in Kayts, the forces were in charge. Searches were underway in Kurikattuvan by the LTTE and in Nainatheevu by the Navy. Through these difficulties he travelled to work for 5 months. When the Islands went to the control of the armed forces, he was transferred to the Chavakachcheri Pirathesa Sabai.

Thereafter he was appointed the Kayts District Secretary. Following this he was made Tellippalai District Secretary and then Sandilippay District Secretary. It was then that he became Additional District Secretary Kilinochchi on 01 Jan. 2003. When then Government Agent Rasanayagam retired in May 2007 he became the District Secretary.

Administration in War

N. Vethanayagan, District Secretary and Government Agent Jaffna

While serving as District Secretary for Kilinochchi he faced many difficulties. For it was the time the last war raged. He barely escaped with his life on many occasions.

Moving to Vavuniya with his life intact, at the end of the war in 2009, Vethanayagan was arrested by the security forces on 29 July 2009 simply because he was friendly with and close to the people. 

The arrest seemed based on animosity towards a high Tamil official. The suspicion hardly fit the paunchy, soft-spoken Vethanayagan who smiled easily.

Typically of those days, there was no proper inquiry against terrorism suspects because most of them were innocent and arrested to earn a bribe, nor were charges filed. He remained in detention until 19 Jan. 2010 and posted to the ministry on 20 Jan. 2010, and sent to the most difficult station of Mullaitivu as District Secretary. Shortly thereafter he was moved to Mannar in January 2011 and then again in November sent back to Mullaitivu. 

This harassment seemed to have the sole purpose of softening up a high official to make him obedient to the government when many illegal orders were being given out. An example of illegal orders in the sensitive Mullaitivu district undergoing demographic alteration would be asking for lands to be allotted to certain communities and not to others. That never worked with Vethanayagan.

A New President: Tamil Dilemma

A new President was elected in January 2015. It was natural for a partner in the new government to ask for officers to serve in Jaffna who were impartial administrators, people-friendly and corruption-free. The TNA, it is said, asked for Vethanayagan and he was posted as GA Jaffna. He would now be seen as a TNA man rather than the honest man he was, carrying out his duties impartially.

It is a dilemma for honest Tamil SLAS officials. If you are honest, the TNA asks for you. If the TNA asks for you, the government sees you as having political leanings. The same thing happened during the Federal Party-JR Jayawardene arrangement for District Councils and Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam asked and got an honest Tamil GA, Dr. Devanesan Nesiah. Nesiah’s regular release of civilian casualty figures in 1981-84 as a result of murders by the army meant he had to go.

In March 2015, many were trying for Jaffna shorty after the president assumed office. Previous GA Arumainayagam, said to have been a good friend of Namal Rajapaksa’s also did. It was a time Tamils wanted an apolitical government agent and Vethanayagan was appointed GA Jaffna and District Secretary. The people of Jaffna were truly relieved.

Vethanayagan performed well, knowing every nook and cranny of Jaffna and what the people wanted. Except when he slept, it is said that his mind was on the development of Jaffna and he worked every bit for it. As a member of the University of Jaffna Council, the only slot that by custom is reserved for the GA rather than political supporters, he was incorruptible. He was a rare member of the Jaffna University Council who understood that there was a lot of corruption going on. 

The Importance of Corrupt Officials in Political Control

 In contrast now, after the new government’s reappointed University Council came in, Angajan Ramanathan has a cousin on the Council aged in his high 20s who was rejected for the MA program before this government was sworn in. The council is divided between Douglas Devananda and Angajan Ramanathan loyalists as the university is poised to vote on a new Vice Chancellor. Their rivalry has turned violent in the past. Prof. P. Balasundarampillai who urged Tamils to vote for the present President, is on the council despite his infirmities.

An example of how the government’s political stooges serve the people is in a conversation that Parliament had with the new Governor P.S.M. Charles (appointed by the last President). She told Parliament of the untold hardships people faced at the numerous checkpoints that have sprung up. When Douglas was asked for his observations, he reportedly said he also lived in Jaffna and has not seen the harassment Governor Charles referred to. The quick-witted Charles responded: “I am referring to the harassment faced by ordinary folk and not that by politicians racing in fancy cars who do not need to stop at checkpoints.”

It is this independence in Tamil officials that the government does not want to see as elections near.

Serving in Jaffna Vethanayagan was prepared to cross many an authority in deciding strictly for the people’s needs. He refused bribes. He refused to allocate housing on the dictates of politicians and the army. His doors at the District Secretariat were open to all.

The help he gave many is continuing although he will soon be gone from service. This help included personal grants. Fifteen GCE AL students receive a monthly gift of Rs. 3000 each. He has also arranged for 150 students at the university to be given help of various sorts. 

Mr. Vethanayagan has only till May 2020 to reach retirement age. But he has been sent to the Pool – a place where SLAS personnel are sent without a proper posting. The Cabinet on 5 April did not want Vethanayagan to serve out his last three months during the upcoming elections. MA Sumanthiran asked for the transfer to be nullified and let Vethanayagan serve his last three months. E. Saravanapavan objected in parliament. The government is adamant. And all this in the middle of his daughter’s wedding in April.

It is an ignominious end to a loyal officer, punctilious in observing rules. It is said he would rather retire prematurely than face that ignominy and that he is putting in his retirement papers rather than spend his last three months in the Pool.

A Worried People

Tamils are worried indeed. Those in authority in the country now are not best known for electoral or administrative honesty. Nor are they best known for ethnic fairness. Every GA in the North and East who usually becomes the Returning Officer at elections has been moved out. Why now? It is because honest officials will not carry out illegal orders.

Mr. Vethanayagan’s experience becomes problematic to those who watch electoral developments. A similar situation is at play in Batticaloa where the GA, Mr. Uthayakumar with a year to go for retirement, has been transferred and he like Vethanayagan has put in his retirement papers. We fear that a retired Major General has been given an extension and been appointed a GA for Trincomalee. It is said to be a last minute decision rushed through the cabinet last week. A corrupt Tamil GA who publicly asked for 10% at the official Languages Department in Kilinochchi and was transferred out through a promotion, has gone to Canada on a trip with his mistress to whom he had allocated a house meant for the destitute. People ask in wonderment how Canada (which nobly and to the praise of many objected when Sri Lanka was made Commonwealth Chair in 2013, and is very strict with visas), found a way to facilitate travel with a mistress. What happened to Canada? Will Canada stand up for fair-play and the rule of law as it did in 2013?

Does Vethanayagan’s premature retirement portend rigged elections in the offing to deny the TNA the strength to back a possible UNP government? It is if we are watchful and suspicious, that rigging can be averted.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    This is typical Tamil stuff but most important things of caste and protestant politics are not mentioned. Anyway it looks ANTI-DOUGLAS DEVANANDA who I suppose is Hindu and protestant sect of TNA are involved in a scuffle.
    I am sure Wigneswaran loves it. He was let on compulsory leave and retirement after one month. What was expected from him if he was allowed to work as the returning Officer for Protestant – TNA?

    • 13

      You fucking rajafukse arse licker. Caste and religion are no issues to Tamils. Thanks to pirapaharan.it is an issue to Buddhist
      That is why Cooray could not be Governor of Central province not talk through your arse

    • 10

      JD, you are a mentally retarded nutcase, go and get treatment at the Angoda mental asylum.

  • 13

    War Missing
    I have not had direct dealings with Vethanayahan, but there is one matter that must go down on record to his credit. A number of individuals and organisations were trying to come up with figures for those missing in the last stages of the war. The only convincing method is to find out the number in a district before the final round of war from 2008 and how many survived in June 2009, to begin with. The first had to be found from district records and once the war ended, from refugee camp records. I worked out in my book Palmyra Fallen, from 2008 figures provided by Vethanayahan and refugee camp figures, that 29,000 were missing from the Killinochchi District. For the whole of the Vanni, I obtained a figure of nearly 100,000 missing, including LTTE cadres and conscripts.

    The fact that Vethanayahan remained in service and stood by his figures gave me confidence in my approach. This was the direct method. Leaving out pseudo-scientific theories, I cannot think of another viable approach. This is why there have been so many disputes and conferences about casualties and it is hard to compare any two separate wars. The testimony of one truthful witness whose administrative remit covered an important aspect of the last stages of our war, is far more valuable than all the theories and scientific speculation. Mr. Vethanayahan, let me take this occasion of your retirement to thank and congratulate you for your invaluable witness that has, alas, passed largely unrecognised.

    • 2

      Rajan Hoole, to come to a conclusion as to the number of Tamils killed in last stages of war, SL government must give permission and support to carry out this. From the beginning they wanted to cover up their crime, firstly by sending all foreign observers out before the final assault, and secondly by not permitting anyone access to the area where this crime took place for more than six months to allow them time to destroy all evidence of mass murder. When UN panel wanted to inquire into this matter, the SL government refused permission to them to enter the country. There are some figures from which you can come to a conclusion. In the census done in 2001, the number of people in the area was about 500,000 and when the war ended the number of persons who crossed over was about 360,000 which means that about 140,000 are missing. This corroborates with the figure given by you of about 30,000 from Killinochchi and about 100,000 from Vanni are missing. UN panel has put the figures of dead as 40,000 and now Gota is saying that 20,000 people who are missing are presumed dead. Did you hear that in Burundi, they have discovered six mass graves of about 600,000 Tutsi people killed. In Sri Lanka, they took measures to incinerate dead bodies and dissolve in sulphuric acid drums and dump in the sea, so that there will be no trace to implicate them. Only an international investigating team can get at the correct figure, because with modern technology all attempts by SL government to cover up will come to light.

    • 1

      I second the complement you paid to GA Vethanayagam. I first met him in Kilinochchi on behalf of SL Cricket regarding land allocation for cricket field and sports development in general. Then in 2010 in Mullaitivu to identify those in greatest need for Livelihood projects. He did yeomen service to the people in Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and in Jaffna. A great gentleman, honest, caring and efficient administrator. He always give well researched real data without fear. I will accept his 100,000 over anyone else’s figures.
      I hope he resigns rather than go to the Pool. He will make an excellent Chief Minister for NP. I hope he will continue to be active in the development of the North.

  • 7

    Dr. Hoole,

    If the missing numbered 100,000, that is a lot higher than the 40,000 number that UN and others mentioned. Did that 40,000 exclude the LTTE and conscripts? I am concerned that nearly 11 years after the end of the war, we still don’t have a clear view of the last stages of the war. Why haven’t the TNA, Jaffna University and Diaspora groups made a serious scientific survey among the people to come up with an accurate accounting?

    • 4

      “serious scientific survey”
      Agnos, you expect any of these characters to conduct anything like that?
      They cannot even make arguments using data on women-headed families, war widows and orphans.

      • 2


        I believe you are still affiliated with the University of Jaffna. Can you ask a relevant department there to take the initiative on this? Let them come up with a plan and a budget first, and then seek support. We can ignore the political parties and their deficiencies. It is something in which the university should take the lead It collaborate with the Eastern University to ensure the people in the East are also surveyed properly.

        • 2

          There is a new Council and there are perhaps only two of the earlier members in it, and I do not know most of the members.
          Academics of all manner of description are mostly running behind politicians to go places. I can name a famous few if you like.
          That is the tragedy of our universities.
          Before UoJ and EU collaborate, the academics in each should learn to collaborate among themselves for the common good.
          The political parties are no better no worse than the academics.
          I know an academic in UoJ who cares and is capable but, sadly, it is not a one-man project.

          • 0


            OK, in that case, we have to look at other independent groups who can do it.
            Would Jaffna and EU help if I find some other university outside SL, including , say a University in the West and the University of Madras, collaborate?

            • 0

              I doubt if either institution can do to anything officially under the existing order.
              Individuals can.

  • 3

    World Tamils should plead with our Tamil Gods according to our ancient beliefs, for positive intervention on behalf of 80 million Tamils “enslaved” in many forms. We should never ask for any evil on perpetrators but Freedom for our future generations. God given freedom is taken away by men in case of Tamils. I am mindful of cruelty on Tamils for last 70+ years. Its high time we come out of it.
    All Tamil religious (Saivas etc) Catholics, Christians and Muslims should be in unison to plead our case against crimes against humanity which occurs non stop.
    Australia intentionally let thousands drown in boats, including 249 people in December 2019. It detains only if boats heading to reach shore otherwise Australians let them hit the rocks. Remember China aided killing in NE of Lanka? Same with many others players.
    Tamils should invoke our ancient teachings and modernize our practices to match 2020, and plead with our Gods, for our “Freedom” to “live and let live” like Nelson Mandela did.
    Our worship places should dedicate times and services just to ask for Justice and Peace, Fairness and Freedom for our future generations. We must boldly and fearlessly, use our Bells and sound systems to plead Gods for intervention, on a daily basis.
    Yes I do pray in a personal level for last 30+ years, as I am against all forms of violence. But I prayed to the heart beat of 5 elements, Our God, and all spiritual masters, as per Tamil Religion, to prove God’s existence. The powers keep proving it day by day, if you follow world events today.
    Tamils should not be divided by invaders name tag “Hindu”, or planted groups, politics, social status, citizenship, caste, but united by the most Humane culture, customs and way of life called “TAMIL”.

    • 2

      “We should never ask for any evil on perpetrators”
      But we are asking the biggest evil perpetrators of the world to save the Tamils.
      Why are you reluctant to talk about what the US and India have done?
      As for Mandela, he proved to be the biggest sellout of the black man. He lived and let live the wealthy whites.

      • 1

        I thought I know a bit of history.

        “As for Mandela, he proved to be the biggest sellout of the black man. He lived and let live the wealthy whites”

        Could you please enlighten me?

        • 0

          The man spoke of redistribution of land. He spoke of nationalizing many things including mines.
          He went silent on them after release.
          There is suspicion that a deal was struck before release. Either way, he let down his people.
          Patrick Bond has written much on the disappointment that South Africa became. there are several others too who have.
          Whites run the show in SA with Black rulers doing their bidding.

        • 2


          SJ would have loved to see South Africa replaced Zimbabwe in terms of economic development, as intended by Mao and Siri Mao.

          • 1

            Thank you Native Vedda. You put it nicely. Hope you are doing well.

  • 2

    The writer is in TNA payroll, he also work for Uthayan newspaper owned by TNA parliamentarian Hon E Saravanapavan . he was elected to Jaffna Municipal Council through TNA tickets. so he has no option other than backing TNA. this article is very biased. TNA will be brought down to zero voter base in the coming election. TNA is nearing its end

    • 1

      On whose payroll are you to discredit an article that speaks up for a victim of injustice?

  • 4

    ever since the 1956 fateful election, the multi-faceted racist Yakko began the vindictive racist policies of culling the efficiency proven Tamil civil servants and it’s still in existence.?
    even a disabled blind, deaf and dumb person along with their 4 legged friends can see and hear for themselves the after-effects of such a stupid move.?
    only the shitting on their tiny midget of a brain Sinhala yak had the mental aptitude or attitude to implement the entire globe’s most foolish petty-minded revenge being taken with malicious glee born inferiority complex and mentally incompetent.?
    whar can one expect from these very very intellectual brains oozing arseholes.?
    the end results are now very very visible to the naked eyes of all those who have been given the rare of aboding and adorning on this wonderful planet of ours.?
    some of the end results are as follows –
    the once-thriving economy which was always in the black prosperous country is now known as the wide arseholes arsiland right around the world.?
    it’s now driven itself into the marshy bog in the cesspit.?
    the economy is in the doldrums this once prosperous nation is now known to one and all as the biggest beggars who even owe monies to the bankrupt countries, they always carry the Buddhist monks’ lord buddha’s bottomless begging bowls.?
    corruption and the selling of one’s body bring in the much-needed paisa.?
    crime is already high, a record in many parts of the world’s atlas.?
    it’s only down the pallan right into the arms of self-made destruction by the shitting sitting on their brains
    brainless Yakko clan.?
    cheers, R. J.

  • 5

    He was a very honourable member of the Council of the University of Jaffna.
    He was simple in his ways and was balanced in his judgment of issues, and was not swayed by cheap stunts.

  • 0

    This is a good example of government interfering in public service which is rampant for decades. Posting of relations and friends of ministers for diplomatic positions in overseas even as high commissioners is a daily occurrence that hampered the reputation of our country at international level which is not a problem for any government. This scenario is a continuation of the deterioration of the public service as triggered by the language issue brought by SWRD. So this situation seemed to be unstoppable which no leader can do it and the exodus to foreign countries also unstoppable. Where are those cardboard heroes of so called patriots hiding their heads behind the luxuries of political appointments.

  • 1

    It is very rare for anyone to get a certificate from SJ.as above. That says it all .
    Hats off to GA.Vethanayagam.
    It is amusing, if not hilarious for Angajan Ramanathan and Douglas Devananda to decide who should be Vice-Chancellor Jaffna.
    The war has helped nobodies to become somebodies and that too in Jaffna!

  • 0

    I am surprised that SJ was not re-nominated to the JU council. I thought Prof Vasanthy Arasaratnam, who is now one of the Commissioners at the UGC, would have taken every effort to bring him back into the Council. Perhaps the current dispensation, especially Douglas and Angajan, would have found his Marxist credentials too intimidating. Or his appointment to the Council is still on the cards? Anyway thanks so much for his great services to the U of Jaffna for the past five years.

    • 0

      I am surprised that anybody should be surprised.

  • 0

    With the recent planetary transits [As per Thirukanitham ] SJ has been saved by not being in the council of the Jaffna University.
    In a couple of months time, as events unfold,he will thank not only his stars but also me !

    • 0

      I do not think that a place in a University Council is something that one should crave. There are those who crave such positions and that is their tragedy.
      It is a task that one is asked to do, and one does his/her best and quits when one cannot act properly.

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