The Bomb blast under taken by Sivakumar at the Urumpirai Hindu Tamil MV was recorded in the last installment. I wish to indicate in this installment, the activities I engaged in, along with Sivakumar , after he had been arrest and released later. You can always say about several other incidents and several persons connected to a particular incident. You can write a lot as well. But as I have no desire to lengthen this series un-necessarily, I will describe only some major incidents.
By the latter part of 1970, the friendship between Sivakumaran and myself had bloomed well. We discussed about several social and political issues. Among these issues, the standardization imposed against Tamil students took a prime place
As per this standardization, students who sat the same GCE A/L examination through two different languages (Tamil & Sinhala), were selected to the universities on the basis of two different cutout marks. The cutout marks were designed to create a vast difference between the number of Tamil Students and Sinhala students entering universities. This standardization, method was introduced by Education minister Badi-ud-deen, a Tamil speaking person.
The cut out marks that had to be obtained by students, ethnically, under the standardization:
Course Tamils Sinhalese
– Peredeniya University 250 227
– Kaddubedde Campus 232 212
Medicine/dental 250 229
Physical Science 204 183
Architecture 194 180
Bio-Science 184 175
Source : The Hansard of Sri Lanka Parliament
Because of this Methodology there was a serious decline in the number of Tamil students selected to the universities. Realizing the necessity to create an awareness and a struggle among the students against standardization, we organized meeting in the Jaffna public Library in September 1970. Students from leading schools in Jaffna including Sivakumaran, Ariyaratnam, Kumar and myself participated in this meeting. It was decided in this meeting that every school should be visited to explain about the standardization and an organization for Tamil students be formed and take a decision regarding the organization in the next meeting.
Our next meeting was held in Malayan café on the 13th November 1970. Pon Sivakumaran, Thambithurai, Muthu kumarasamy, Ariyaratnam, Thavarasa, Vilvarasa, Sayon , Lawrence Thilakar, Ilangaimannan, Michael, Thambinayagam, Anandan, Valentine, Karunakaran, Narayanathas, Sabalingam and myself with another 150 students took part in this meeting. Malayan café overflowed with students.
As per our earlier decision, we debated about forming of the new organization. We conferred on how the organization should be named. I proposed the name “Tamil Manavar Peravai”(Tamil students Federation). Many students accepted my proposal and elected Ariyarathnam and myself as co –coordinators.
We decided in this meeting that a protest rally should be held on 1970 November 13th. This is the day on which the Esplanade meeting I mentioned in the last installment was held by us. This was also the first meeting of the Tamil Manavar Peravai.
Sivakumaran, Chandrasgaram, Ariyaratnam and myself engaged dedicatedly in the arrangements and propaganda works for the procession and meeting to be held on November 23rd.
Police permission had to be obtained for the procession and as the procession was organized without the participation of Political or social leaders, P. Suntharalingam who was considered a respectful police officer refused permission citing several reasons. Hence it was decided to hold the meeting and the procession without police permission. Students from all over the peninsula began to mass at the commencing point of the procession, Kokuvil Amman Temple, on the 23rd. That was a Monday, a school day. But the students boycotted their classes and came to participate in the procession.
As this was the first ever anti – Government procession after the famous “Satyagraha”, police was engaged in monitoring not only in Jaffna peninsula but also all over Jaffna Peninsula. The then Assistant police superintendent Ariyasinghe and a hard –line Inspector Baragoda came to the starting point of the procession. After an uncertain situation, the procession started at around 1p.m.
The procession which started from Kokuvil, winded through KKS road, Kasthuriar road to Kacheri, handed over the memorandum to Government Agent, and then moved through KKS Road and reached Jaffna Esplanade.
I have noted about the meeting held in the Esplanade in my earlier installment. Along with the students of the leading school, a Female student of the Jaffna Vembadi Girls school addressed the gathering very sensitively and explained how the Tamil students are going to be affected by the standardization in the future. Addressing meeting finally, I said that, it we want to be delivered from the oppression of the Sinhala state, there is no way other than creating a separate state for the Tamil people.
After the meeting the effigy of Minister of Education Badi-ud-deen was dragged around the Dutch fort and burned by the students.
We had decided in our meeting held at Malayan cafe, to go to every school and hold awareness creating meetings. After the Esplanade meeting, came December and schools were closed for vacation. Valuttithurai Sithampara College was the last school that was waiting for the holidays to begin and hence, we decided to hold our first meeting there.
Legally we could not hold such meetings inside schools and hence we decided to hold the meeting just outside the school gates at the time of the closure of the school. Paddu made all arrangements for this.
I gave a discourse about the Manavar Peravai and the standardization to the students who had in a place alongside the volleyball grounds opposite the Sithampara College. I can remember even today that, I delivered my speech perching upon a cut Palmyra tree stump and the students asking lot of questions from me.
‘Thamby’ Prabaharan who was getting ready for the GCE(O.L), told me on a later date that he too had taken part in that meeting with his school colleagues. ‘Thamby’ Prabaharan who had had taken in deeply, lot of ideas about the self rule of the Tamils from his favorite teacher Venukopal, also told me that he wanted to meet me in person during that meeting, but he could not do so because of the large gathering there.
On that we could not proceed with our propaganda among the students as we wanted because of the lot of public who attended that meeting. Several students requested to meet us again. Hence we announced that another meeting will be held at the Revadi beach and invited interested students to that meeting.
We were greatly encouraged and cheered by the way the public listened to our ideas and the large of the public and the students who came there. Sivakumaran had earlier briefed me well about Valvettithurai. The meeting happened to prove what he had told me earlier. I realized that we could draw lots of support and assistance from that soil.
The meeting with the students at the Revadi beach took place as announced earlier, in the evening of 29.11.1970. Because of the encouragement received on the previous day, I conducted this meeting by myself without the assistance of Sivakumaran. Sivakumaran was busy with some other work.
I invited the students who participated in this meeting to join Manavar Peravai. Lot of students volunteered to join the Peravai. As that was the period of December examinations, I told them that we will meet them after the examinations and they could join the Peravai then. Another reason for declining was that, only two weeks had passed after the formation of the Peravai and we did not have solid work plans nor the regulations for the members.
After the conclusion of the meeting for students a meeting for non-student youths was held. It was on the upstairs of the Nadarasa Building located to the west of the Community Centre at the Valvettithurai junction.
Several persons including, Periyasothy,Venukopal,Kuddithurai,Kanapathypillai, Yogarathnarasa,Athanna,Kuddimany, Thangathurai, Nadesuthasan,Sinna Sothy, Sakkodai Mohan, Satkunadi, Suntharrajan, Kannan participated in this meeting. The thoughts and activities of these Valvettithurai youngsters regarding the Liberation of Tamil people surprised me. I was just overwhelmed. As the practical activities of youths were compatible with our policies I told these youths that we do not have any hesitations in allowing them to work with us.
Periyasothy who had had heard my speech in the Esplanade on 23rd November 1970 , mentioned about it. He was completely concordial to my ideas. In this meeting, they agreed to work with us on their own will.
Sivakumaran had already identified these youth in the Netkolu poultry farm and recommended them to me. In this context, consenting of these youths to work with us, great satisfaction and contentment. I felt that a strong side support had been found. At that time we were only thinking about what could be done organizationally. But these youths had already engaged in preparation to act as a group in the future. They also had the support of the village people in several ways.
Except for the bomb blast at Urumpirai, we did have any familiarity with weapons or the knowledge for making bombs.These Valvettithurai youngsters, especially, Kuddimany, Thangathurai, Sinnasothy, Nadesuthasan and Kuddithurai were well versed in these.
When the discussions with the non-student youth was in progress in the upstairs, Thamby Prabaharan who came there with his very close friend, Nadarasa Sureskumar, ihad insisted that he be allowed to take part in the meeting. He had said that he was unable to participate in the meeting at Revadi Beach, and therefore to allow him to participate in this meeting. As this meeting was for non-student youths and although the elder brother of Sureshkumar was participating in the meeting, the youths did not allow them to participate in this meeting.
For the whole two and a half hours of the meetings duration these had waited downstairs adamant that somehow to meet me. Finally when we came down at the end of the meeting, Prabaharan met me for the first time in front of the community centre and conversed with me.
I will write about what Prabaharan asked me and what happened next in my next installment.