23 September, 2018

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Police Superintendent Sunderalingam Reveals How Vellahlas Ganged Up Against Him

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

H. L. D. Mahindapala

I wish to forward the following e-mail I received from Mr. Ramachandra Sunderalingam, the Police Superintendent of Jaffna when the Maviddipuram revolt of the low-castes was at its peak. I think this letter has value for research students digging deep into the caste issue in Jaffna. It is an insightful first-hand account of an eye-witness who actively participated in the negotiations with his namesake, C. Suntheralingam (CS), the casteist firebrand who was leading the Vellahla counter-attack to keep out the low-castes storming the gates of Maviddipuram Temple. It also reveals the tightly-knit caste network of the Vellahlas who were pulling for each other from their commanding positions in strategic places.

Mark you, CS was a professor of mathematics and had been a Cabinet Minister in the Cabinet of D. S. Senanayake, the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka. CS is the archetypical Vellahlite who combined in him the two main characteristics that defined a Vellahla : 1. casteism and 2. racism. He was well-known for running down the Sinhalese saying: Sinhalaya modaya, kavun kanda yodaya. As revealed in this letter CS went as far as the Privy Council to defend Vellahla supremacy denying the low-castes their basic right of worshipping the shared Hindu God/s. Readers will also remember that another star Vellahla leader, Ponnambalam Ramanathan, too went to London to urge the colonial masters to legalise the caste system in the interests of the people of Jaffna. Which, of course, meant the Vellahla ruling elite.

Mr. Sunderalingam retired from Sri Lanka Police and served in the top rungs of Interpol located in Paris. He now lives in Chennai. Here’s the full text of Mr. Sunderalingam’s letter:

Dear Mahinda,

Just returned to Chennai from Hyderabad. A Lecture at the Police Academy. Well, you have written a thesis on Vellala caste Tamils in the Jaffna Penninsula. A well researched analysis. My input will be minimum, confined to my personal experience and happenings on caste disputes during my 6 year tenure in Jaffna as SP Northern Province. It was a fact the Vellalla community, considered the High Caste, dominated all political and economic activities in the Peninsula for decades in the pre-Independent and post-Independent Ceylon. In 1970 all Jaffna MPs were Vellallas. If one had visited a village in Jaffna, one could have observed that the Vellalas lived in residential area in well built houses, the lower castes always lived in clusters in the outskirts in cadjan sheds doing daily menial work for the high caste Vellalla Hindus and Christians. To be fair, Christians were more compassionate. It was during the sixties the so called depressed classes including Nalavas, Pallars, Parayas etc etc woke up , thanks to Mr Shanmugathasan and his Peking-wing set up a “Minority” (low-caste) front to fight for their rights

Prevention of Social Disabilities act 1957 was only an act in the statute book to deal with social disabilities based on caste discrimination, more applicable to Jaffna Penninsula. The bubble burst with the Maviddapuram Temple Dispute in 1968. My namesake Mr C. Sunderalingam (CS), a fanatic, put up a barricade in front of the Temple dividing the area. The outside area was exclusively for the Lower castes while a separate entrance was erected for the so-called Vellala caste people to walk closer to the inner sanctum.

I visited the Temple with a Police Squad when tensions were running high. I saw CS, with a walking stick, ordering the Palla community worshippers to do their worshipping by standing behind the barricade. They were not allowed to enter the sacred area reserved only for the upper caste. In the meantime, GA Jaffna, Vernon Abeysekera, and Mr Stanley Senanayake, SP Special Operations Anti-Immigration, KKS also arrived on the scene. Negotiations failed and free-for-all occurred between CS group and Minority group. It was not a major clash. Only a few were injured.

I mentioned to CS that he was morally bound to open the Temple to all persons alike or close the Temple doors for everyone. I remember telling him God is equal to every one standing before him. Mediation with CS failed and Temple doors were closed. In one of the telegrams sent by CS to IGP and PM he alleged that the SP was acting as a Dictator and asked for my removal. PM Dudley Senanayake was well briefed by IGP. PM’s response : “Let the Sundaralingama fight it out”. The next morning Sunday Observer headlined “The Battle of the Sundaralingams rages in the North.” Police filed a plaint against CS under the Social Disabities Act. Same time CS filed action against me for Unlawful Assembly etc in Mallakam Courts.

The Magistrate was a die-hard Vellalla who was determined to go for trial. I went to Colombo, and met Attorney General, Mr Victor Tennakoon. By virtue of his position under the criminal procedure he had the right to withdraw any private plaint filed against any Government official. When the State counsel appeared in Court with A/G’s letter on the next date, this caste-minded Magistrate rejected A/G’s plea and document. Believe me, this case went up to Supreme Court (SC) in Colombo. It overuled the Magistrate’s order and granted my discharge. In the meantime, Police filed action against CS under Social Disabilities Act and he was fined Rs 100. 00 and warned. When, however, SC upheld the Magistrate’s order CS went to Privy Council. With his personal appearance he was hopeful that the conservative Lords will accept his arguments based on the customs and traditions of the Jaffna Tamils but the Privy Council upheld the SC order. Mr Gratien appeared for the Govt of Ceylon. This was the last Privy Council case from Sri Lanka with no more appeals after that ( I believe).

Aftermath- Maviddapuram Temple was closed, with an injunction filed by AG restraining CS and the Maviddapuram High Priest. My evidence was recorded for 3 days in District Court of Jaffna. In 1971 a Parliamentary Committee composed of Pieter Keuneman, Leslie Goonewardena and Cholomondely Gunawardena, with my recommendation, passed a new amendment to 1957 Act with more stringent provisions

Caste discrimination prevailing in Jaffna, no doubt, initially led to the growth of extremist Tamil Youth Movements. One Sivakumar, identfiied as a Militant Youth leader before Prabaharan in 1970, planned a campaign in the Peninsula for a common sit-down meal comprising all-caste youth in one sitting. This was a movement to get all youths of all castes together. Sivakumar was suspected in two bomb throwing incidents, including Alfred Duraippah’s car bomb incident, during this period. To begin with, all Youth leaders of the LTTE came from VVT Karaiyar caste.

I have always stated that the detention of Rohana Wijeweera in Jaffna 1971 and JVP attack on Jaffna Jail was an inspiration to Jaffna Youth. The cry in Jaffna was : If Sinhala Youths can revolt against Government what are we doing? From one perspective, it can be argued that Rohana Wijieweera created Prabahaharan (?).

You are free to quote me in the incidents and happenings in Jaffna during my tenure in Jaffna.

Best wishes to your wife.

Sunda

PS : On a personal note, may I add that Sunda’s family and my family have been close from our salad days. In fact, my wife and I shared one wing of the palatial house of his equally famous brother, Dr. R. Pararajasekaram, the eye surgeon, at Turret Road, almost opposite the Liberty Cinema. My wife and I lived as his guest for years. Dr. Pararajasekeram worked as a volunteer with Fred Hollows, attending to the optical needs of Aborigines in remote places in the Northern Territory. Later he joined WHO. My wife and I are grateful to his generosity. We are privileged to be friends of such a distinguished family.

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    HLDM writes about the artificially created barrier in the Minds of Men which could be called the “caste system”.

    This exists all over the world, under various names, conferring social disabilities on sections of populations in many countries.

    This exists in Sri Lanka too, in many guises, even among the Clergy of all Religions.

    In the deep south too, there are isolated villages of pottery makers, dancers, tree climbers, drummers, elephant mahouts etc.

    There are the broad divisions of Govigama , Salagama , Karawa castes.

    In the north, among Tamils, many “low” castes are identifiable, artificially created and maintained, by so-called “high” castes, even among members of the many divisions of the Christian religion.

    The “caste prejudice” will take a long time to be dissipated.
    We have to live with it, just like as happens all over the world.

    But, making ‘caste prejudice’ to be entrenched in politics, is disastrous.
    This is happening not only among Tamils, but also among Sinhalese, without specific mention, during elections, appointments etc.

    All men are created equal.

    Any reference to “caste” in speech and/or in writing must be specifically made a criminal offence, in the new constitution.

    • 4
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      Dear Justice,

      You say “Any reference to “caste” in speech and/or in writing must be specifically made a criminal offence, in the new constitution.”

      Is your suggested solution to a problem not to talk about it? Please observe a cat drinking milk. It will have its eyes closed, presumably so nobody can see it.

      • 2
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        Nathan,
        No,no,no, One must not talk about caste except for marriage proposals, where use of acronyms like BG, BK,BD etc are recommended. Have you noticed how a BG will insist on an “equal status” partner while the “below-par” will say “caste immaterial”?

  • 3
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    In the Maviddapuram Temple entry dispute, the National Government under PM Dudley Senanayake and the Police High ups in Colombo took the correct decision.It was a sensitive issue in the North with Federal Party under SJV Chelva and Tamil Congress under GG.Ponnamapalam supporting the Government. Prime Minister Dudley Senanayake was on a good wicket when he directed IGP saying Let the two Sundaralingams fight it out This was a wise decision left the Federal Party and Tamil Congress mere spectators with no political involvement in a very sensitive issue.It turned out to be a Battle of Sundaralingams a saving grace for SJV Chelva and GG.Ponnamapalam the 2 Leaders of the Tamil Parties In fairness to SP Sundaralingam he handled the situation very tactfully and won the praise of the entire Tamil Community in the North.

  • 2
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    Police Supdt Suntharalingam’ s father late Mr Ramachandra was a very religious person and well respected by everyone. He published a Hindu religious magazine called ” Religious Digest” in 1960s or 70s. He hailed from Nainativu.

    I am not aware of his stand on caste and temple entry. I urge his son Mr Suntharalingam to share his thoughts on this point for readers’ benefit.

  • 2
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    what caused these tamil racist tribal politicians to get into streets was not any 56 language policy, but the 57 act regarding caste

    • 2
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      sachooooooooooooooo the stupid II

      What is the difference between you and a knife?

    • 0
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      Sach
      In 1956 there was a sit-down demo in Galle Face by a small number of Tamils including MPs, which was attacked by thugs. SWRDB made an insensitive (though light-hearted) remark about the attack.
      Soon after, there was unprovoked anti-Tamil violence and killings in Ampara.

      There was no protest about caste discrimination legislation of 1957, which, incidentally, was proposed by NR Rajavarothiam, FP MP Trincomalee and adopted unanimously.

      The FP launched a silly anti-Sri campaign against the somewhat mischievous move by SWRDB to introduce “Sri” number plates– something best ignored and which the country dropped three decades later.
      It also launched a badly planned Satyagraha in 1961, which had the support of the LSSP and critical endorsement of the CP.

      There was never a pro-caste-system campaign here (unlike in India against positive discrimination legislation).
      The 1957 Act was inadequate, and discrimination persisted, which led to the 1967 movement under discussion.

      Racism, sadly, is not exclusive to one tribe alone.

      • 3
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        SJ

        “The FP launched a silly anti-Sri campaign against the somewhat mischievous move by SWRDB to introduce “Sri” number plates– something best ignored and which the country dropped three decades later.”

        Though my Elders agree the anti Sinhala Sri campaign was a stupid act on the part of FP however they believe the introduction of Sinhala Sri registration numbers were not a “mischievous” one but a calculated move by the Sinhala/Buddhists Sinhalisation of the entire island. The move was part of the building blocks in the construction of a Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto in this island.

        Silly – having or showing a lack of common sense or judgement; absurd and foolish.

        Mischievous – causing or showing a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way.

        Therefore the introduction of Sinhala “Sri” was not a mischievous one but a malicious one.

        Malicious – characterized by malice; intending or intended to do harm.

        I am still jogging whilst witnessing many moves by intellectual gymnast.

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          Jogging is good, but not ranting and raving while jogging.

    • 0
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      “Sach”inthanantham, wow what an immensely intelligent man you are. SL is indeed a blessed country to have brought forth such a think tank………….not!!!!.

  • 4
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    Poor Edwin Rodrigo.Where is the miserable chap?Only Mahindapala knows the answer.Cool Bro D

  • 1
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    Caste system was far deeply rooted in the pre 1960s and an already more than 2000 yrs history behind it. I think it is not the same as it was in the 30 s and 40s. As a witness to the Maviddapuram episode, I see the Vellalahs were more moderate than the sub castes like Kovias, Barbers and those below. Years long before the Vellalahs vexed by the revolting low castes gave up many cultural and ceremonial gestures like engaging Tom Tom Beaters on Funeral processions, and carrying the dead bodies themselves to the cemeteries instead of engaging the traditional Govia caste.
    In fact the caste revolt and temple entry was motivated by leftist parties and ideologists while the repression was by castes below the Vellalahs each playing superior to the other down below.Thus bthe caste consciousness was all the way from the top to THE BOTTOM.
    I have seen a similar system among the the Sinhalese as well and it was even very much alive in Parliamentary debates in the early 50s. Caste system is everywhere in the country and I believe it is unfair to attribute it to the North and the Vellalahs only. I am surprised to see it discussed in detail in Colombo Telegraph after having witnessed the rise and fall of a casteless Regime under Ltte.
    The people of North especially the women are subjected to utmost humiliation and disrespect. When Organised Crimes, Drugs use and immoral activities are the call of the dayin the North, I see this discussion is unfair and inhumane.

  • 1
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    Interesting reading various interpetations on the caste system prevailing in Jaffna Penninsula Mr Mahindapala gave his own point of view while I observed some Persons very knowledgeable on the History of Jaffna caste system giving their opinion with factual details.As a Jaffna Tamil now a Pensioner,all I can say Jaffna has lost its Glorious Past. Living overseas I visited Jaffna after a lapse of 12 years in 2015 The 30 years civil war has ruined the noerthern Province Everything is superficial in Jaffna Tamil Expatriates visiting Jaffna as Tourists, those having Houses and Property are selling them. Who is Who in Jaffna is a big question A mix up of Castes and Money Talks in this part of the country I remember a few years ago reading an article by SP Sundaralingam titled Jaffna I knew Sunday Island 2007 I wish all readers have a quick glnace of the article unbiased and well written. Can Jaffna go back to the old days? Never?

  • 2
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    Mahindapla is just like the character inspector Dreyfus in the Pink Panther series who had this homicidal hatred for the inspector Clouseau. In the case of Mahindapala it is the Tamil Vellalar. Just like the character Dreyfus I can picture Mahindapala’s walls all covered with I hate Vellalar and he crouching in a corner at a desk gritting his teeth like an homicidal psychotic and posting all this Vellar hate stories in order to cunningly divide the Tamils and fight amongst themselves on the basis of caste, so that the Sinhalese can eternally rule them.

    • 1
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      Cool story, bro :D

  • 1
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    Maviddapuram Temple Dispute 1968has been blown as Vellalala vs Low caste Tamils, thanks to C.S a Fanatic who took advantage of situation for Political Gains. Unfornuately he was only Voice of the Vellalal Community on the Temple issue as others SJV”Federal Party GGP of Tamil Cngress Playing safe the Vote bank was important with General Elections in 1970 Unfortunately The title of this article by Mr Mahindapala -Vellalalas gang up against SP Sundaralingam is misleading the readers .Mr Sundaralingam was stirctly acting as a Police officer dealing with a arroganr CS who will not listen to reason Mr Sundaralingam was a highly respected Police officer, with PM Dudley Senananaye and PM MrsBandaranayake retaining his serves as SP Northern Province for 6 years Both Prime Ministers considered him the Best Choice as Police Chief of the North during this period.

  • 6
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    I am a resident of Ambalangoda have known Mr Sundaralingam as ASP Ambalangoda early sixties. He is still remembered in Ambalangoda even today for organising a grand celebration a Decorated motorcade to welcome Dharmasoka School Cricketers listed as the Best School Boys cricket team in the Island 1961 Hence I was fascinated reading all the articles of the caste issues in Jaffna Peninisula during fifties and sixties. We have caste issues among Sinhalese too, but surprised me the deadlock and clash at a place of worship between 2 Castes trying to gain entry for worship.Reading the background of Politician Suntharalingam, obvious he was a arrogant and caste conscious Individual deternmined to create chaos and disorder in the entire Jaffna Peninsula. Hats off to SP Sundaralingam for handling a tense situation taking action against Politician CS and his followers I am aware Police officer Mr S had a excellent track record in the Srilanka Police,. He set up the Colombo Crime Buraeau,and PM Mrs Bandaranayake inaugurated Bureau 1974.As a DIG late seventies President JR and PM R.Premadasa took his assistance on controversial issues in the North and East during the ethnic conflicts. I lost contact with him, according to my Police Contacts he was the only Srilankan Police officer to get International recognition as Interpol”s Leading Drugs Expert for 16 years I wish him well in his continuing career as a Expert.

  • 1
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    sach:

    “what caused these tamil racist tribal politicians to get into streets was not any 56 language policy, but the 57 act regarding caste”

    Naivety is one thing but stupidity is… No donkey will believe you if you just bleat that Tamils are racists but Sinhalese are not. It is for this “race” thing that this stupid nation has become a bloody ground. Not just either of what you have mentioned but the whole spectrum of what the incapable hoodlums who had managed this country are to be blamed. I simply did not mention the word “led” and used instead “manage” because leading a multi-racial, multi-religious country calls for “leadership” but asking a bunch of monkeys on that is perversely too much.

    Be as it may, that ape which believes unto himself as a wizard tries to hike his own agenda. This caste or class or whatever, is a stigma that bedevils all society, races and countries. HLDM is a coward who feels only his dick needs to be safe instead of saying the obvious. To tear his face of his farce is nothing of a labour but cynically choosing one damn story to stamp an entire race of a repugnant societal practice shows a demeaning character devoid of any flesh in him, if he ever understands what I mean.

  • 2
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    Thanks Gunamm, I read the feature article Jaffna I knew by Sundaralingam Sunday Island 2007I request all readers of Colombo Telegraph to read this article Factual and well written on the Golden ERa of the History of Jaffna siixties and seventies..

  • 4
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    May I suggest we close this Debate on Vellalala Caste story. Velllala supremacy in Jaffna came to an end with the LTTE taking the role as saviours of the Tamil Race. LTTE has also been decimated. Jaffna is a casteless society with the complete mix up after the 3o yearsx civil war No purpose is served talking about Caste stories in Jaffna

    • 0
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      Raja
      If what you say is true, I will be very glad.

      The belief that denying an ailment will rid one of it is not rational.
      Tamil nationalists urged people no to talk of caste, class or gender because that will divide the Tamils.
      What was achieved was that even region became an issue.

      “LTTE taking the role as saviours of the Tamil Race”– Then the Race had to save itself from both the government and the LTTE.

      Address the problems: then there will be no stories.

  • 1
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    Perhaps what strikes me as strange is that Mr Sunderalingam in his letter conveys his best wishes to HLD’s “wife”.
    If they have known each other for a long time, wouldn’t Mr S refer to HLD’s wife by name?.
    Rather curious isn’t it?.

  • 2
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    hello Sunderalingam,
    I have met you and your younger brother when you both studied at Jaffna Central. Then in 1954 at Peredeniya where you were a student. I came there to takepart in the Asian Games trial.
    Your work in the Police force is legendary. I had not known of your involvement in keeping order in the Mavaddipuram Temple tragedy as I was out of the country. Thank you for your courageous stand up to the Privy Council against a mathematician turned politician and becoming a social tyrant.

    Temple entry and right to cremate in govt land set aside for creation were issues in the late forties and early fifties. As a child and school boy I could not understand the adults who thought of people as high and low persons. As an octogenarian I still don’t understand.

    The Christian father’s played the game then. There was a Pallar St Anthony’s church and a Vellalah St. John’s Church in my village in the forties and fifties. Now both communities attend both churches depending on their preference to one or the other saint. But the Cemeteries are still separate.

    The school system has a sophisticated discrimination to get around laws, regulations and the concept of equality – a term that is seldom practiced in the school system. I shall wait till the study is complete on the school system and recommendations to ensure equal opportunity to all children to maximise the potential they were born with. The caste system and its inhumanity is not just in Jaffna but it is through out the North. And of course in the South. Stringent laws with severe punishment is necessary and at the same time social awakening and peaceful appeal for change need to be advocated by ALL citizens.

    • 1
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      n. ethirveerasingam,

      “I shall wait till the study is complete on the school system and recommendations to ensure equal opportunity to all children to maximise the potential they were born with.”

      I hope that you will post the results of the study here so that we can comment.

      Unfortunately I have very recently heard of a Vellalah father who first ordered the son not to play with low caste children in school. When the son continued the father beat him. The father never tried to explain why the son should not play with the others. The son still does not understand what he did wrong. This is Jaffna in 2016.

    • 3
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      Casteists have psychological problems in that they measure their self-worth not on their own intrinsic accomplishments but by making others whom they deem “weak” in some way, and not in a position to fight back, feel inferior.

      In other words, casteists are like schoolyard bullies who probably have no real accomplishments but try to abuse other students they feel are physically and mentally weaker and will be cowed down; they should be told in no uncertain terms that it is they who lack character and morality, and are therefore inferior. If some religions make them feel otherwise, there is something fundamentally wrong with such religions. That is why people should fight for a secular culture, with religion left as a private matter for individuals.

      • 3
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        Well said, Agnos.

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        Agnos

        “Casteists have psychological problems in that they measure their self-worth not on their own intrinsic accomplishments but by making others whom they deem “weak” in some way, and not in a position to fight back, feel inferior.”

        I am in agreement with you, they do have psychological problems, not from superiority complex on the contrary from inferiority.

        They suffer from “pe*** envy”.

        Hence they set out to belittle others by the size of their wealth, motor vehicles, daughters dowry, donation to temples, trips to Tamil Nadu (a land of the Dalits) on pilgrimages, shopping, …….. ultimately the caste.

        Size does not matter.

        In Sinhala and English matrimonial columns (paid advert)one often reads parents seeking Govi/Buddhist partners for their daughters. Does it mean the Govi size matters?

        People should get the state to ban such adverts and extend the meaning of “The Social Disabilities Act of 1957” to cover caste based matrimonial columns in the media.

        SJ is in a good position to initiate such a campaign. Hiring Chinese consultants may come handy.

  • 2
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    R. Sundaralingam from his letter here acquitted himself well in the Maviddapuram crisis.

    However, to all of us youth who participated in the Maanavar Peravai March in 1970 after standardization was introduced, he was a horrible “traitor.” Perhaps as a Tamil officer in an abusive Sinhalese police force, he had no choice. We were beaten up and he stood by. It was a time when Sinhalese police officers took it out on us then youthful Tamils who were angry over 28 marks being added to Sinhalese students before determining admissions eligibility. I was on that march and saw friends assaulted by the police.Sundaralingam as Superintendent of Police protected those abusive officers. In one instance /(separate from the march) when a parent complained of his son being assaulted, he replied, “Please take your complaint to the OIC. If I handle it, I will have to take action.” It was of course for action that the parent complained!

    Sundaralingam’s name in Jaffna town was not good for more than protecting his abusive officers. He was personally teaching driving to a young lady when she crashed her car. I do not remember the details now (almost half a century later) but a taxi driver was involved and in the cover-up that followed, all taxi drivers went on strike and some were beaten up on Hospital Road by the police to force them to accept hires. As a result of the publicity from that abuse of police powers under Sundaralingam, Jaffna folk not only went without taxis but were also exposed to all the details of that affair.

    It was not the case that every Tamil officer had to play the traitor to survive in the police. The OIC at the time, S. Sivendran I believe, was a ruggerite from St. Peter’s. I believe he also used to write sports columns for the newspapers. He was able to function ably without doing anything anti-Tamil and was looked up to by the youth then. It was an achievement for a Tamil policeman.

  • 2
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    Thanks Arvind for remembering the Big Day in Ambalangoda in 1961 the Day long celebratrions the first out station School Cricket Team Dharmaasoka College Ambalangoda selected the Best School Team in the whole Island The celebrations were organised by ASP Sundaralingam a Dynamic Police officer solicited the support people of Ambalangoda and Balapitiya, belonging to 2 major caste dividions to join up, led to thousands of people lining up the streets from Balapitiya to Ambalangoda to welcome the Victorious s Cricket team coming in a motorcade with Elephants leading the Parade.We never experienced such a celebration in Ambangoda at any time Ambalangoda District was almost one hundred percent Sinhala Buddhist the Distirct Police Chief was a Tamil , held in high esteemm, I remember a strong request to IGP by the 4 Members of Parliament of the District to retain his services for continous period This was Ambalangoda Ceylon(Srilanka) in the sixties In this respect I congratulate SP Sundaralingam for the Hard work he put in the eradication of caste system in Jaffna.

  • 1
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    He should have ended up as the IGP of Ceylon. Sadly , not only the caste system, but also the racial prejudices were far too pronounced in most spheres of life, and he would have smelled that it would not have been given this honour due these issues. I met him, when he came to do his travel arrangements to go to, I think, Oxford and as he told me, to do his masters in criminology. his ultimate success in his academic and profession achievement does not surprise me, as the way he engaged with me gave every indication of his superior intellect. We lost one of the most magnificent personalities when he left our shores.

  • 5
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    I was in Colombo a few months ago for a wedding in the family. My wife and I were staying at Hotel Taj Samudra. The Tri-Series cricket matches that were scheduled at that time were a complete wash-out and that gave us all Taj residents of the day the opportunity to mingle with the cricket teams who were also billeted in the hotel.

    There were a couple of traditional Jaffna Tamil Hindu weddings being held there and. I observed the new brides and grooms, all in their fresh wedding finery, catching up with the Sri Lankan cricket heroes and posing for keepsake photographs; their families scuttled for autographs and a general spirit of bonhomie and camaraderie pervaded the hotel lobby even while it was raining cats and dogs outside. Sanath Jayasuriya, Kumar Sangakara, Mahela Jayawardane were the most sought after for pictures.

    Was this something from the past? I say this, because this personified the spirit of the erstwhile Sinhala-Tamil harmony of which I carry nostalgic memories, quite different from what prevails today. The very fact that Tamil couples and their families were scrambling to pose for pictures with Sinhala cricketers and seeking their autographs show that deep down, we are all Sri Lankan, proud of our icons, whatever their race or community. And that gave me so much pleasure remembering the flavour of what was a more spacious period now past. That was the context in which my mind harked back to the Jaffna I left in 1972 which is in no way near to the one I came back to in 2006.

    In the background of the ethnic conflict that has been tearing the fabric of this country for the past so many decades now, I was immediately taken back to those bygone, not too distant days when such a situation would have been impossible to ever imagine. It would have been blasphemous to even think of. That was the golden era of Sinhala-Tamil harmony, when in the peaceful Jaffna town Tamils, Sinhala and Muslims excelled in different trading pursuits, all living in harmony. The Sri Lanka I remember, the Jaffna I knew, were vastly different from today’s.

    I go back to the days when I served as Superintendent of Police, Northern Province, from 1966 to 1972 when there was just one senior SP in charge of each of the country’s nine provinces. My charge was what was then the single Northern Police Division, later separated into the Jaffna and Vavuniya divisions, through the days of the governments of Dudley Senanayake (1965-70) and Sirima Bandaranaike (1970- 77).

    The national government of Dudley Senanayake led by the UNP came to power in 1965 on the support extended by the combined strength of the 20 elected Tamil MPs of S.J.V Chelvanayam’s Federal Party and G.G. Ponnambalam’s Tamil Congress. The Federal Party member M Tiruchelvan was named the Minister in the Cabinet responsible for Local Government. His job, clearly, was to formulate a workable proposition for devolution of power at the provincial and district levels.

    This was the beginning of a conscious conjunction of interests, of a well defined political reconciliation between the Sinhala and the Tamil political parties. Senanayake’s government with its mandate for communal amity created tremendous goodwill in the North and the East. Politically, the biggest talking point of the day was the prime minister’s visit in 1967 to Jaffna to lay the foundation for the model market. It was an occasion that has been etched in the memory of everyone present on that occasion or remembers it from that time. The rousing welcome, the surging applause, the heartfelt reception that greeted the PM has been scarce repeated and never accorded to any political personality before. Even as the common man was effusive in his hospitality, leaders of rival Tamil political parties vied with each other to welcome a leader who was then the beacon of hope of Sinhala-Tamil harmony, who personified what all of us wanted for our country. This was the beginning. There followed a continuous flow of Sinhala politicians and ministers to Jaffna, something that had only been a trickle earlier. They came on one pretext or the other, visiting the Tamil areas as a matter of routine. The bond was palpable and the links continuous.

    R. Premadasa who took over later from Tiruchelvam as Minister, Local Government immediately visited Jaffna and the rest of the province on assuming office. He initiated several development projects. He was accorded a welcome that was both warm and welcoming. Five hundred meters of red carpet was rolled out for him from the Pallaly airport where he landed to Tinnevelly on the Jaffna road. This trend continued even in Mrs. Bandaranaike’s time with ministers Dr. N M Perera, Dr. Colvin R de Silva, Felix Dias Bandaranaike, Mathirapala Senanayake, Pieter Keuneman and host of others all being frequent and regular visitors, planning projects in the North. The visits of the various ministers and Sinhala politicians created tremendous goodwill and promoted a close Sinhala-Tamil amity warmer than ever before. This was the Jaffna I left in 1972.

    Law and order was at its very best in this period. The Jaffna man, then, was a peace loving, reticent personality and the Northern Province recorded the lowest crime rate in the country. The average homicide rate for the province was 32 a year and this was mainly over land disputes or domestic discord. Whatever disputes there were, were confined to minor pockets arising out of localized issues centred on caste based temple entry and related biases.

    eradication of caste discrimination

    One of my accomplished missions during my posting as the chief of police in the Northern Province and something that gave me immense satisfaction, was the eradication of caste discrimination in the region – particularly in terms of temple entry, use of public wells, etc. Of course, it attracted the ire of the influential, well placed, high caste members of Jaffna society who misconstrued this process of emancipation.

    I recall with pride that during this period there was little or no premeditated crime and the use of firearms was a rarity. Crime was largely petty and offences not serious. Interestingly, it was cycle thefts that predominated in a region where sometimes a family owned as many as three bicycles. The only crime necessitating a security forces counter, if at all, was smuggling.

    This was again concentrated in Velvettithurai. There was a flourishing two-way smuggling across the Palk Straits with VVT as the hub. Spices and coconut oil was moved out of Sri Lanka while India provided textiles of a bewildering variety ranging from silks from Kanchipuram and, surprisingly, Manipur, as well as sarongs bearing the Chanku mark and Paalayakattu brand, joss sticks and perfumes, Tamil film magazines and song books etc. and worst of all, opium. Indian opium was one the most sought after commodities that was smuggled into Sri Lanka at that time. In fact, this has been an age-old practice with the exchange of coded messages like, ‘I am sending Meenakshi, you send Kamakashi.’

    These smuggling rings were often broken on information received and then set up again and broken once more. The cycle went on with crests and troughs but smuggling was never completely eradicated. This has now taken a totally different avatar. There was otherwise no militancy, no insurgency, no organized crime. There were pockets of rebellious youth activity, particularly over the policy of standardization of marks for university admission that was introduced in 1970, but there was no widespread political agitation with violent and fissiparous elements in them. This is the Jaffna I left in 1972.

    The police, nearly 1,000-strong, manned 24 police stations in the six districts of the Northern Province and was the main law enforcement agency. Though Pallaly camp was the military base, the army and navy played a very minor role in the region. The six army outposts comprised about 700 soldiers while the naval base in Karainagar had 100 personnel and two patrol boats that had little to do except occasionally patrol the shore to prevent illegal migration from Tamil Nadu and the rest of south India.

    That is the irony of the situation today. Illicit immigration posts were set up along the coast of northern Sri Lanka in the 50s and the 60s to monitor and control the illegal people traffic from South India to Northern Sri Lanka. Now the tide has turned and the traffic is in the reverse direction.

    There was a craze for Tamil films in the 60s and 70s to such an extent that the Tamil youth would take boats from Velvettithurai to Nagapattinam or Vedanaranyam on the Tamil Nadu coast to see the ‘first day first show’ of new Tamil film releases and get back the next dawn.

    Sinhala Buddhist pilgrims flocked in thousands to Nagadeepa (Naina Tivu), in the Jaffna peninsula once a year during the Poson Festival in Anuradhapura. This was a regular and revered pilgrimage, akin to the visit to Bodh Gaya in India. Legend has it that Nagadeepa was one of the first places that Lord Buddha visited in the three trips that Sinhala Buddhist tradition has it that he made to Sri Lanka. The other two are Sri Pada and Kelaniya or Kalyani in the Gampaha district.

    JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera

    When the JVP uprising in the early 70s took place and the JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera was arrested in Amparai in 1971, the Security Council under Prime Minister Sirima Bandaranaike decided that he should be confined to the civilian Jaffna prison, within the Dutch Fort, under my direct custody. This was primarily for security reasons as the Northern Province was the safest, most trouble free place in the country then. Historically, the Dutch Fort was taken over by the Dutch from the Portuguese in 1658. It had only four principal buildings, the Jaffna prison, the Police Superintendent’s residence, King’s House (VIP residence meant mainly for the Governor and Supreme Court Judges doing the Jaffna assizes) and the Dutch Presbyterian Church. It’s unique layout, imposing ramparts and designed moat made it a major tourist attraction. Unfortunately, all that is gone today, having been razed to the ground.

    The spin-off for me from the decision to send Wijeweera to Jaffna was that as the police chief of the Northern Province, I got to personally interact with him and this helped me understand the JVP thinking of that time. In fact, this brings to my mind the prescient prediction of Wijeweera that the Tamil youth will also one day rebel against authority. Apparently, he could read the writing on the wall, during his stay in Jaffna prison for over a year, intermingling with the Tamil prison guards and the Tamil speaking co-prisoners.

    The JVP insurgency of 1971 was an eye-opener for the Tamil youth. It was the precursor of the expression and assertion of the Tamil identity. As I see it, perhaps, this is where the seeds of Tamil rebellion against the State were sown.

    Education was the life blood of Jaffna. Schools spaced a mile apart literally spilled over each other. Satchel-carrying school children rushing for classes at early hours was a common sight. Ambitious adults drove their children to academic excellence and the rewards that would bring. This explains the attainment of Tamils in the professions and many other walks of life. All the MPs from the Northern Province were lawyers, upright and dedicated men of integrity and honesty, who never interfered with the administration of the police or other agencies of the government.

    Tamil peasant

    This was complemented by the hard working rural Tamil peasant who eked a hard living from the demanding soil. What they produced was an agricultural miracle, making their fields bloom in an arid climate. Their hard work produced a bounty of red onions, bananas, mangoes and much more trucked in lorries across Elephant Pass to markets in Colombo and elsewhere. The Jaffna farmer’s prosperity was hard earned and well deserved, a tribute to his spirit of wresting his living from a demanding soil under extremely dry conditions.

    India and Sri Lanka have shared a long and cherished history of harmony and goodwill, with trade, culture, history, anthropology and religion all being part of the connection. The efflorescence of religious interactions in both Hinduism and Buddhism are a matter of everyday life and if Hinduism found an extended expression in the island, Buddhism came to its own in this land. The continued and sustained goodwill visits of Indian luminaries like V.V. Giri, Vijaylakshmi Pandit and Jayaprakash Narayan, with Jaffna part of their itinerary, nourished these ties.

    Even as they visited Sri Lanka as guests of the government, they held aloft the flag of good neighbourly relations and the undeniable socio-cultural umbilical cord that binds the two countries together, and Jaffna in particular. The bonding was so strong that I distinctly recall Vijaylakshmi Pandit’s visit. It was pouring cats and dogs and there was a distinct possibility of the venue of the meeting that had been arranged having to be changed from the open air to a confined, closed venue. When the change was proposed, Mrs. Pandit matter-of-factly retorted, ‘When the Nehru family speaks, rain, thunder or storm, people flock to hear them.’ This proved true. Such was their magic.

    Reminiscences can seldom end and I can go on and on. This is more so, in the context of the present day situation which is a stark study in contrast with conflict rife and discord the order of the day. My mind goes back to the days of not so long ago when harmony reigned and the issues were more esoteric and less existential. Maybe to bring back peace to Sri Lanka, for Sri Lanka to live up to the dream of being the ideal democracy, for the country to vindicate the promise of its independence and be a showpiece cradle of communal harmony, nourishing society and economic prosperity, there needs to be a more guided vision, a more motivated political will with no petty fogging on either side.

    This is something waiting to happen and maybe from the prevailing chaos, reason will prevail. It sounds a pipe dream maybe and too idealistic. But given the education, the exposure, the opportunity, the right of choice and the right to exercise that choice by free will democracy will triumph. The Buddhist ideology of harmony, the Buddhist message of peace and the Buddhist tenet of dharma cannot but prevail in this land of the Buddha.

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    Thanks Gunam for copying the Sunday Island faeture article Jaffna I knew written by then SP Jaffna Sundaralingam in 2007 on his visit to Colombo for a family wedding.This was the period continuing LTTE/Army skirmishes in the North and East.The article illustrated the Law and order situation that prevailed in the North during 1965-1972.This stability was partly due to the National Govt under Dudley Senanayake with support form Federal Party and Tamil congress , which restored communal harmony.One peruses the article it will be seen as North Srilanka prospered in all respects.Opinions can differ but the fact this was the Golden Era in the History of the North. Caste Disputes did prevail such as Maviddapuram Temple dispute but all in all Northern Province was vibrant in all respects.Police Supdt deserves credit in his job, sometimes handling Political issues with 2 strong Political Parties Tamil Congress Under GGP and Fedreral Party under SJV ,a tight rope walk for the Police but a Job well done by Supdt Sundaralingam

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    This is a very cunning attempt to make the Tamils weak and fight amongst themselves on the basis of caste/religion and region so that the Sinhalese can rule them forever. It is also a desperate attempt to distort history and lie by stating that it was not state sponsored Sinhalese racism and the racism of the Sinhalese Sri Lankan Armed forces and police and the general Sinhalese population that is the root cause of the pathetic plight that all of the island’s Tamils find themselves but it is because of the attitude of their upper castes. This is like the Nazis who were stating that it was the Jews who caused their own downfall and not the Germans.
    Tamils should not fall prey to this lies and Sinhalese propaganda. Caste class discrimination in Jaffna and in the rest of the Tamil areas was no more or no less than the rest of the island and in fact very much less than in India. The Sinhalese are as equally class/ caste conscious as the Tamils. At least the Tamils are mature enough and will elect and accept a non Vellalar or non Hindu as their leader but the Sinhalese have so far never accepted a non Govigamm or non Buddhist as their leaders. Premadasa was an accident and he was bumped off by the Govigamma elite and then the LTTE was conveniently blamed for his assassination
    All the Govigamm Christians like the Bandaranaike, Jayewardene ETC had to converted or pretend to convert to Buddhism to become their leader. Chelvanayagam did not have to convert to Saivaism to become the leader of the Tamils but openly remained Christian.
    The hardline Sinhalese come here and are posting that the Vellalar in Jaffna are not Vellalar but largely consists of upwardly mobile lower castes. The Brahmin in Jaffna are not Brahmins but are all jumped up Vellalar and claiming all sorts of Sinhalese origins for other Tamil castes. As per them everyone in Jaffna are not what they are but something else. Very soon they will state that the Eelam Tamils are not really Tamils. Some silly Tamils thinking that they are very broadminded intellectual are also contributing to this fallacy.
    There can be some upward mobility but not large scale. Unlike in India,the castes that they claim became Vellalar, were very miniscule in number. The vast majority of the Vellalar are descended from the original Vellalar families and lineage. This is why their Brahminical Saivite culture has remained intact. Even the minority who were assimilated were not low but either just below them or in many cases like the Chetties and Madapalli were equal to them with a similar culture.
    What about the large scale upward mobility of many Sinhalese lower castes into the Govigamma identity? Just read the newspapers on the amount of people legally changing their low caste origin family names to Govigamma surnames. Or the caste regional discrimination amongst the Sinhalese?
    The Kandyans still consider the low country Sinhalese as inferior to them and do not consider the Karawa,Salagama and Durawa, who largely descended from recently migrated Tamil low castes from India,as Sinhalese at all. He and the rest of Sinhalese hardliners talk about temple entry but are very silent about how the Govigamma refused entry to the lower castes into their Buddhist temples and ordination into Sangha to the non Govigamma. They had to form their own orders with the help of Buddhist clergy from SE Asia and build their own temples. People who live in glass housed should not throw stones at others.
    Everyone thinks that the Tamils are now weak so are now descending like vultures to tear them apart and prey on them. Their homes their lands and whatever hope/dignity that is left.

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      Cool story, bro :D
      Almost as good as the one about how the low caste chakkili/dalit convert ‘Paul’ became a Brahmin and took on my name – like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon :D Worthy of being written into a fairy tale and placed alongside the ones about Native We Thamizh homelands in Sri Lanka :D

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    He is also trying to make a case that the Tamils are not fit to rule themselves whiteout the help of the benign Sinhalese state and armed forces, otherwise they will destroy themselves on the basis of caste etc. This is why all these articles about how evil the Tamil upper castes were/are to the Tamil masses and it was the Sinhalese state that saved the Tamil masses(sic) from the evil of the Tamil upper castes. Must be reading a lot of Nazi propaganda. Tamils do not fall victim to the man’s lies and propaganda
    He has conveniently forgotten that more than 85% of the island’s indigenous Tamils belong to the upper and middle castes and even the 15% so called lower castes are quite educated in will not fall victim or stomach any form of blatant discrimination.
    He also forgotten that it was not the Tamils but the largely rural lower caste Sinhalese youth who rose up against their ruling upper caste elite in the 1970s and 80s.

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      Sorry Paul
      The Vellalas comprise about 40% of Jaffna Tamil society and Dalits 30%.
      The so-called middle castes too were humiliated by the Vellalas for long.
      Inter-caste marriage is sill unwelcome. (Read the matrimonial columns in the Tamil papers.)
      Caste discrimination and persecution still persist. A successful “low caste” principal of a major school in Kilinochci was transferred to a rural school by the NPC Ministry of Education, based on caste.

      In Batticaloa-Amparai Mukkuvas dominate by number, wealth and social clout.

      The Hill Country Tamils are predominantly Dalit. The CWC is Vellala dominated.

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        The Vellalar are not 40% but around 50% of the population. The Karaiyar around 10%-15% and the rest of the middle castes another 20% This makes them around 80%-85%. The low/untouchable castes are not 30% but 20% the most.
        The Vellalar may have looked down on the middle castes but never treated them badly as they could not as these castes by the 1930s have become educated and were economically independent of the Vellalar. The Kariyar never accepted the Brahmin/Vellalar caste system or hierarchy and were out of it. They were fiercely independent and were socially held in high esteem in their lands. By the early to mid 20Th century they also became part of the Tamil elite just like many of the Koviar and other middle castes.
        I do not say there was no caste discrimination of the lower castes but it was no better or worse than the Sinhalese south and far more benign than what happened in India or even Tamil Nadu/Kerala. So what is this big issue with the Sinhalese? They are no better than the Tamils. At least we Tamils are open about and do not deny it they pretend it never happened and is not happening.
        Marriage amongst castes is still not the norm not only amongst the Tamils but even amongst the Sinhalese( even they advertise wanting for partner from someone their own caste) and other South Asian ethnic groups even in Muslim Pakistan and BanglaDesh caste plays a very important part in marriage. SO why all this condemnation of only the Tamils? Even in the west people from different classed and aristocracy hardly marry outside. That is why is such a big news when someone does so. People have every right to marry any one they want as it is their personal choice, however they have no right to discriminate or kill anyone as they are different. This is the difference between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The Eelam Tamils may be caste conscious, the Sinhalese equally so. Only difference is the Tamils will admit to it the Sinhalese will deny this and are willing to kill rape loot ethnically cleanse and commit genocide on the basis of Ethnicity and religion.
        Yes everyone known that in the east is the Mukkuvar and not the vellalar who are dominant. The Mukkuvar are considered a very low caste in Kerala and Tamil Nadu but in eastern Eelam Tamil lands a caste that is considered low is the dominant wealthy and politically powerful caste than the ritually higher Vellalar. Which shoes it is not caste but numbers and access to resources that make a people powerful. In the north the Vellalar caste has the largest numbers so they became dominant held power even the ritually higher small Brahmin community had to serve them. This shows that the Tamils in Eelam are not following the norm. They vote for Christians despite being predominantly Hindu. They accepted a Karaiyar as to lead them despite being predominantly Vellalar. The Sinhalese will never do that but follow traditional caste norms and will only accept a GOvigamma as their leader and will never accept the Christian. Are the Karawa or Salagamma politically or economically powerful in any part of the south like the Mukkuva in the east. The answer is no. So who is more caste conscious?
        As for Indian origin Tamils everyone knows they are lead by a corrupt bunch but they Sinhalese will never discuss them or care for them as they don’t threaten them like the Eelam Tamils. As they Eelam Tamils are the only group amongst the islands Tamil speaking population who can validly challenge the Sinhalese for the ownership of the land. as their history and claim to the island is as ancient as the Sinhalese the other two are immigrant and cannot do that. This is why Sinhalese hardliners like Mahindapala and company constantly belittle them and try to prove that they are evil casteist and are not fit to rule or look after themselves without the help of the saintly and highly cultured Sinhalese( sic)

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        Paul
        I suspect that Vellaala numbers get boosted because people like to elevate their caste status and that of Dalits lowered as manyy try to suppress Dalit identity.

        Caste is still a serious issue and there is covert and overt discrimination.

        Tamils should address their problems in earnest and get their act together– not to duck for cover from any Sinhala racist.

        What the Sinhalese or any others do is no justification for Tamil misdeeds. In fact, Sinhalese segregation by caste in public places had diminished to insignificance by the 1960’s.

        We have seen enough in refugee camps. Even after the war we still hear plenty of caste-based derogatory whispers.

        Jaffna Tamils should get their house in order, then there will be no need to pretend or even bother themselves about what others say.

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          I am not Vellalar but Brahmin so have no interest in boosting the percentage of the Vellalars up or down but this is the figure given as per all statistics that around 50% of the indigenous Eelam Tamil population are from the Vellalar caste just like 50% of the present day Sinhalese belong to the Govigamma caste. This encompasses a wide range,from peasants owning a few acres of their own land and farming it,to rich aristocratic landlords owning large amount of land and the educated elite professionals and businessmen. The vast majority of the Vellalar/Govgamma like the vast majority of the Brahmin are poor peasants and do not have the time or inclination to go around discriminating anyone on the basis of anything and go about minding their own business. If any discrimination is done it comes from the rich aristocrats and the so called educated elite who have lots of time and energy to think of all sorts of evil things on other humans and animals to ascertain their importance,like we are all doing on this forum and should no better.
          Like I stated many times earlier the caste issue regarding the Eelam/Jaffna Tamils is no better or no worse than the rest of the island and far better than from neighbouring India. Most of the overt repulsive practices have already gone and to get rid of overt practices takes along time, especially when this practices have been there for thousands of years. Even in the so called rich enlightened west these sort of class and other forms discriminations are still practised overtly.
          Secondly the vast majority of the Eelam Tamils belong to the upper and middle castes around 85% and these people do not face any form of caste discrimination and even the 15-20% lower/untouchable castes amongst them are now quite educated and have tasted a lot of freedom during the 30 year Eelam uprising and will now not tolerate any form of discrimination against them. So why all this finger pointing at only the Eelam Tamils, who as a people now do not have any powers to do anything or make any changes by the Sinhalese who are the bigger caste and race discriminators than the Tamils.
          At least the Tamils did not slaughter their rural low castes on a mass scale and commit atrocities on them in the name of quelling an uprising in the 19703 and 1980s like the ruling Sinhalese elite did.
          Funny that all these Sinhalese are coming and crying crocodile tears about the plight of the so called poor and low caste Tamils at the hands of their upper castes, however most of the victims of their racist genocidal war against the Tamils were these very same low caste poor Tamils. They were then jumping in glee and dancing in joy even on the streets when the racist war criminal Rajapakse regime and a genocidal racist Sinhalese army deliberately targeted and killed more than 70000 of these largely poor and low caste Eelam Tamils for whom they are now crying their crocodile tears for, raped looted humiliated starved and tortured them and kept them Nazi style concentration camps and still would be keeping them if not for the efforts of the largely high caste Tamil diaspora that made the international community and UN forced to intervene. Where was MahindaPala and his Tamil wife then? Where were you or this so called Sunderalingam who now has strangely started write letters to this will known Sinhalese racist? Where were all this Sinhalese who have come out of the woodworks to now cry and strangely take pity of on these so called supressed Tamil poor and lower castes when it is their racist Sinhalese led government and the occupying racist Sinhalese armed forces that is now supressing them and not some Vellalar or other Tamil high caste who are themselves powerless and in the same position as the rest of the Tamils. I don’t see Mahindapala or the other Sinhalese including you clamouring for the removal of the racist Sinhalese occupying armed forces and the illegal large scale grabbing of Tamil lands by the Sinhalese and Muslims that is making like hell for the very same Tamils whom there coming here and shedding crocodile tears for. They and you will not, as they are using this lame excuse of caste discrimination amongst Tamils to justify and deny any due Tamil rights and any form of self rule. Stating that the Tamils are not fit enough to rule themselves or given any rights without the help of the Sinhalese armed forces or the Sinhalese and idiots like you thinking that you a being intelligent and broad minded are falling into their trap and pulling the rest of the Tamils further down the pit that these Sinhalese have dug for them.
          If not for the efforts of largely Vellalar now rich and educated Tamil diaspora and the local Tamil elite and some good Sinhalese the international community and the UN would not have intervened. In it was so called high caste Tamil Brahmin Jayalalitha and not Karunanidhi the so called anti Brahmin saviour of the Tamil low castes who forced the Indian government’s hand too. This shows when it comes to the crux Tamils are united irrespective of caste or religion and will help their poor and low castes unlike the Sinhalese upper caste and elite who slaughtered them like animals.
          Caste has always been an issue in South Asia even in Muslim Pakistan and now Bangladesh. However that did not prevent them from gaining their rights or the Sinhalese been given independence on a platter. The British did not tell them sort your caste matters before we give you independence. So why are the Eelam Tamils asked to jump hoops by the likes of you Mahindapala and the rest of the Sinhalese hardliners when caste is now become a non issue. It is people like you and the Sinhalese who are making this an issue to justify not granting the island’s indigenous Tamis their just rights and self determination in their lands and the removal of the racist Sinhalese armed forces from the Tamil areas as it is they who are the biggest obstacle to any form of peace dignity and prosperity of all the Tamils not the Vellalar Brahmin or any other caste, as all Tamils are now in the same boat If the Tamils are given their due power over their own fate life and lands they will prosper and can make improvements for every Tamil but not with a racist Sinhalese population, government armed forces and Tamil Idiots who think they are being broad minded and smart breathing down their necks.

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            Cool story, bro :D

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    SJ,
    Can you let us know which category or caste the Tamils of Killinochi and Vavauniya belong to? It was known fact in the fifties and sixties Indian Tamils from upcountry migrated to the North during communal disturbances 1958 and became farm workers.Possibly the Land owners were Vellalala Tamils from Jaffna which included Mr C.Suntahralingam (Maviddapuaram, who owned farms in Vavauniya and contested the General Election for the Vavauniya seat. There are unconfirmed reports thsoe who were displaced and died in the waar against LTTE their ancestry was of Indian origin It will be worthwhile some research or study is initiated.Your response?

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      There were some Indian origin Tamils working as farm labourers but very few. They only came after the 1977 riots. Most of them left when the Tamil uprising started, however some of them did remain and fight with the LTTE like the famous LTTE woman fighter named Thamilini. However they were an exception. This war was between the indigenous Tamils and the racist Sinhalese government that was denying their rights and Sinhalese racists like you. India origin Tamils kept out of it.
      Why you think SJ is a very compliant Tamil and you can get some statement or post out him and then state the displaced Tamils from Killinochci/Vavuniya do not deserve to be given back their lands as they are not indigenous but of Indian origin and these lands should be given to the Sinhalese or the occupying racist Sinhalese armed forces. I can see through your game.
      The farmers of Killnochchi and Vavuniya were small land owners, they may have belonged to the Vellalar or even to other castes. What is it to you and what is your problem? If you are so interested about upper castes owning land. Why don’t you start and agitation in the south that all land should be divested from the Govigamma and given to the low castes, instead of poking your racist Sinhalese head into matters do not concern you.
      Land was never given to Indian origin Tamils. If rich Vellalar landlords owned large estates in these areas, they purchased them legally with their own money and it was not given to them by the Sinhalese government on ethnically cleansed Tamil lands, like give to the the Sinhalese.

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      Andrew
      From what I know, much of the population of Kilinochchi comprises settlers from other regions and the burden of caste was until recently a little lighter on them.

      The plantation workers were not affected in 1958.
      However, the use of members of families of plantation workers to toil in Vavuniya was there, but in fairly small numbers.

      It was after the nationalization of tea estates in 1974 and successive years of drought in the Hill Country that they drifted northwards in numbers. They were badly exploited initially. Organizations like Gandhiam did good social work to improve their lot.
      Although the quality of life of plantation worker families improved over the years, overall, they were among the poor.

      The children of the poor could not buy their way out of the North during the war and got ‘martyred’ (or became cannon fodder). Members of oppressed castes and landless Vellalas too were there with Hill Country Tamils, perhaps in somewhat larger numbers.
      Among the displaced, the Hill Country Tamils had a raw deal as their claim to the land that they tilled was denied by government officials.

      As for big land owners, Proudhon, the famous anarchist declared: “Property is theft!”.

      Paul
      Kindly avoid dragging personalities into debates, when you hardy know what one stands for. If you do not like what anyone says, please challenge what is said and leave it at that.
      Intentions will sooner or later reveal themselves without anyone’s help.

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    Rohana Wijieweera created Prabahaharan!!!!!!!

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      John
      Looks like you took too long to figure that out!

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    I was in Jaffna in 1971,serving Sri Lanka Navy, and at the time Mr. Sundralingam was a ASP if I remember correctly, since i had to challenge him to get down from his jeep in Chunnakam, during the JVP insurgency of 1971 (within the navy also).
    In my opinion, it is inappropriate for the promoted SP to now comes up and talk about vellala Jaffna, after being in his safe place all these years. Of course, i too wish there shouldn’t be a discrimination based on Casts.
    Krish

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    AS IF our brethren in the north have not had enough to worry about as they try to sort of their lives, these days they have to endure the Pusari of the Antipodes giving them lessons in their history.

    Come sweet Lord and gives us comfort and succour, these are hard times.

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    Mr Krish,
    I am a Police Retiree worked at Chunnakam Police during the 1971 Insurgency.Navy was guarding the Power station Chunnakam.What happened ? A naval seaman a JVP insurgent shot dead his own officers,left the scene with weapons.The Police under ASP Mendis at Elephant Pass in good time stopped the vehicle, in a shoot out seaman died with 2 others Such incidents by JVP in Jaffna gave new ideas to the Tamil Youths.This has nothing to do with caste issue.

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    They will be able very easily sort out their lives if there no occupying Sinhalese army breathing down their neck and stealing their lands homes possessions and many times their children too. They will also be able sort their lives if hard line Sinhalese racists like you stop clamouring for Tamil blood and stop voting for opportunistic racist Sinhalese parties and politicians. If all this is done there is no need of this Pusari from the antipodes giving them and you lessons in history to dispel your Mahavamsa myths. I Am glad that you have realised that life in indeed difficult for the Tamils

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