Sri Lanka: Jaffna has witnessed unprecedented development under the present Northern Commander Major General Darshana Hettiaarachchi. He has tirelessly and effortlessly ploughed into re-building Jaffna and had done so with nothing up his sleeve except for ‘one objective ‘and that was to see the wellbeing of the poorest segments of the Northern Tamils.
It is not an exaggeration to say that his eyes drowned in tears as he recalled their sordid plight. “They are poor and innocent people and I felt that I should do my utmost best for their welfare as a Buddhist, let alone being the Northern Commander, it was my duty to dispense my duties to keep them happy,” said an emotional Darshana at the recently held Colombo based Defence Seminar ‘Achievements.’
Large scale housing projects
Large scale housing projects have already been completed in Keerimalai, Thelippalai, Karainagar, Point Pedro, Alaveddy and Periyawillan. This apart, Jaffna’s civilians have been recipients of artificial limbs, cement to build their kovils, cattle, monthly distribution of milk packets, donations for kovils, 100 sewing machines and sanitary items. Also 9,500 coconut seedlings had been distributed among households, while Palmyrah growing had been incredibly encouraged.
A collaborative effort of the Army and the Coconut Cultivation Board would as a result, witness massive coconut plantations on all occupied lands. Already 25,000 coconut seedlings have been rooted. Jaffna peninsula’s coast conservation in collaboration with the Coast Conservation Department is underway not to forget re-forestation that is being assisted by the Forest Department in Army occupied lands.
Helping farmers to till their lands facilitating agricultural growth are done by the assistance of Army’s tractors.
Significantly, funding cataract surgeries are the Kadawatha Lions that transport patients for surgery to the Lions hospital in Kadawatha. Theatre costs, spectacles, accommodation and food are also provided by them.
Medical camps and scholarships for children
A total 17 medical camps and 19 blood donation endeavours, construction of hospital buildings in Kayts, Velani, Murunthankerny, Chankanai, Waddukkodai and Kodikkamam have been realized. Scholarships and computers have also been provided to 850 children, while Grade 5 scholars have been felicitated along with the best performers at the O’ Levels and A’ Levels. They were recipients to stationary and books, while bicycles were distributed among 450 needy students.
The recruitment of 111 Tamil youth into the Army is also noteworthy. Never had this been done earlier.
Army personnel posthumously donate eyes, body organs
Over 10,000 Army personnel have posthumously given their consent for their eyes and body organs to be donated as well.
Several parks have been built, while the Hartley College grounds was redone free of charge by the Army. Further, the religious wing of Tamil Eelam, the local Parish was also renovated free of charge. “I have no bias towards anyone!” said this humanist and liberalist to whom a warped communal mindset is a stranger.
Southern well wishers are also currently funding nearly 10,000 families with sanitary facilities.
The Jaffna Super Cross to be re-introduced
An annual motor race named ‘Jaffna Super Cross’, once an event only for the Colombo bourgeoisie including the Rajapakse offspring, is also being planned. Yet to come in was Rugger – a favourite past time of the former ruling elite, which reminds this writer of how though ironically, poverty alleviation is common to both political parties.
Vesak, Deepavali, Thaipongal celebrated on grand scale
Also of a unique nature was the unusually grand scale of Vesak, Deepavali and Thai Pongal celebrations, where General Dharshana Hettiarchchi was seen personally supervising the cooking and serving of lunch. The future would also witness Army women rendering devotional Tamil songs at Tamil religious ceremonies. This well read Northern Commander is indeed a rare blessing to the Army for he unfailingly recalled India’s world acclaimed poet Rabindranath Tagore when he quoted, “Where the world has not been broken into fragments by narrow domestic walls; the walls of caste, creed, race and religion.
Special constraints do not permit this writer’s first to name the diverse individuals and organizations that have ungrudgingly given of their best to General Dharshana Hettiaarachchi to rebuild Jaffna besides the government funds that keep rolling in and he is eternally grateful to one and all for bringing Jaffna to what it is today.
“My ambition is to create Jaffna a Singapore,” he said, when questioned about the future of this long neglected peninsula.
To him, consulting the people takes top priority in all developmental efforts. As for political freedom, it is sure to culminate only in the formation of the Tamil political elite – a repetition of the Southern Sinhala political elite – both of whom are hell bent on hoodwinking the masses and building unbounded financial reserves for their own unborn generations. At this point, the historical reference to the British leaving behind a political elite on their exit from our territorial entity is inevitable.
Bringing relief to neglected Tamil masses
In the post-independence years that followed, we witnessed these elites resorting to unprecedented corruption that saw a reverse of the positive trade balance the British left when closing shop here. So, it is far better to have a General in the calibre of Dharshana Hettiaarachchi to turn Jaffna into a Singapore, bringing relief to that neglected locality’s innocent Tamil masses, than to have them suffer under Tamil elite hegemony which exactly had been the happenings in the South – the stampede over the Sinhala masses by the corrupt Sinhala political elite – Karu Jayasuriya being an exception. Ironically, Sri Lankans view his age over integrity as an impediment to leadership, whereas an enlightened Malaysian populace have invited Mahathir Mohammed at the age of 92 as Prime Ministerial deposit to clean up Malaysia ‘s Aegean Stables. Incidentally, Karu is 20 years Mahathir’s chronological junior, but still ‘unsuited ‘to lead!!
This writer’s numerous attempts to get at Chief Minister C.V. Wigneswaran, remained futile.
His parallel this writer found in R. Sampanthan’s Press Secretary whose chosen preference was a ‘ deafening mute’ in her attempts to get at him at the cost of her wallet. Elitist arrogance will hold no good be it in the South or the North. Once in power, they, like their Southern twin brothers, the Sinhala elitists, would undoubtedly not be equal to the task!
‘No one seizes power hoping to relinquish it,” said George Orwell.