Military Takeover Of Jaffna’s Cultural Hall: Sinhalese Army To Lead Tamil Cultural Revival?

In a tripartite agreement between the Government of India, Government of Sri Lanka and the Jaffna Municipal Council, Jaffna was gifted an SLRs. 2000 million Cultural Hall. The said hall has been ready for over six months but is not operational for lack of funds for staff, telephones etc.. It was poor planning from beginning to end. The sri Lankan government that gives that as an excuse to keep the centre shut, in a shocking move that has just come to light somehow has found the funds for the army to run the Cultural Centre.

In a letter dated 26 Jan. 2021, S.T. Kodikara, Secretary, State Ministry of National Heritage, Performing Arts and Rural Arts Promotion, has written to Secretary, Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs, to say

Considering technical requirement to be met with priority, it is recommended to hand over [sic.] management of the newly build [sic.] Cultural Centre in Jaffna to the Chief Executive officer [sic.] of the Nelum Pokuna Theater in order to make arrangements to activate it until the Municipal council [sic.] in Jaffna is ready to take over the management.

Who is this CEO of Nelum Pokuna Theatre whose full name is Nelum Pokuna Mahinda Rajapaksa Theatre? It is part of the Rajapaksa’ grandiose personality cult scheme they seem to have picked up from Mao Tse Tung. As to who this CEO is, the Army website says:

After a formal Guard Turnout at the entrance, the newly-appointed Colonel of the Regiment was received by Brigadier Sujith Balachandra, Chief Executive Officer at Nelum Pokuna Theatre along with Brigadier Janaka Priyadarshana, Commander, Mechanized Infantry Brigade, Brigadier Kumara Wanasinghe, Centre Commandant, Mechanized Infantry Regiment.

If the government verily has the money for the Army to run the Cultural Centre, why could it find no money for the Municipality to do so, asked a Jaffna man. “Indeed, asked an ordinary indignant Tamil teacher, “What has the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs got to do with Tamil Culture? Their track record is to take over anything Tamil and call it something that belongs to the Sinalese? India should have anticipated this.”

And what does the army know about our culture except to kill it, asked the same Jaffna man cited earlier. He pointed to the causeway from Jaffna to Poonahari where just North of the new Sangupiddy Bridge, there is a “Check Point.” Employing no Tamils and not wishing to pay a Tamil to translate this into Tamil, the army appears to have used Google’s translator. The Tamil sign as a result now says “Chothanai Pulli” a direct translation of “Point” whereas the usual phrase is “Chothanai Chaavadi.” We laugh but that papers over the cultural danger we face, says an engineer at the Road Development Authority.

Will such Google Translations characterize the titling of exhibits in out new cultural hall? Why is India so scared to tell off Sri Lanka where to get off, when Sri Lanka acts so brazenly, spurning anything that India gives with charitable motives, including the now shut down airport? Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi being another Neville Chamberlain, keeping quiet as the Chinese are given footholds within a few kilometers of India on the islands? Will Prime Minister Modi need an open challenge to wake up, as happened when Adolf Hitler on 1 Sept. 1939 invaded Poland exploiting Chamberlain’s appeasement policy? What  will it take for Modi to wake up? 

These are fair questions from different terrified citizens in Jaffna who fear a nuclear clash between India and China on our soil.

Said a long-term Tamil observer and feature writer, “The only silver lining in the dark clouds for us Tamils is that the more mad things Sri Lanka does like spurning UNHRC and its Chief, insulting President Biden, beating up Sri Lankan Tamils, killing Indian Tamil fishermen etc., all the more will it make it impossible for the world to appease the mad Sinhalese government as it goes rogue, and ignore its madness. A part-horrible Sri Lanka has a chance to escape justice. A wholly rotten Sri Lanka as it rots more and more, cannot escape justice. Hopefully that process will not entail more deaths.”

(by Jaffna Correspondent)

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