Drugs came to North after May 2009 – C.V. Wigneswaran
By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan
Following are excerpts:
?: What is your take on the formation of a broader alliance of Tamil political parties – namely the Tamil Progressive Alliance – on Wednesday and their reasoning that the Tamil issue is not limited to the North and East.
A: All minority parties must unite. This is because a conspiracy came to light at and after the time of Independence. The majority community, talking of a united country, was trying to undermine the other communities who came to be known as minority communities.
In our case, we are the majority community in the North and East. We lived a separate life till 1833. We were never minorities then. We were made a minority by adding us to the areas occupied by others larger in number. But, the decimation of the minorities in our country started with the disenfranchisement of the Plantation Tamils. The Sinhala only was brought into make the other communities suffer disabilities. Then pogroms and riots were used to send off the persons from such communities to all parts of the world. Then started the standardization as a subtle form of discrimination into education. While these were going on,
colonization of areas with those from the majority community went on unabated in areas where for centuries certain other communities had lived. Thus, the need for a broad based unity among the various affected minority groups has become very relevant and pertinent now more than ever. This is so in the light of certain politicians calling upon the majority community to close ranks. Hence, any form of broader alliance among the minority communities should be welcomed.
While our problems are different, whether we are Tamil speaking people from the North or East or the plantation areas or any other part of Sri Lanka or even if we be Muslims, the fact that the ancient classical language Tamil binds us, makes us all related.
?: There is a charge that the politicians representing the North, including you, have not raised your voices against the gang rape and murder of Vithya, but you make a hue and cry about the flaws of the good governance government and the military presence. What is your response.
A: Obviously, those of you in Colombo, whether Tamil speaking or Sinhalese, are not fully aware of what is happening in the North. The entire Province has been agitated, including all of us. You seem to be provided with information by some partisan politician or pressman.
Do not forget if there was good governance and absence of the military, many social evils experienced by the North would be absent. Vithya would not have become a victim. Drugs came in a big way to the Northern Province after May 2009.
?: Was there an official statement about her death issued by the TNA or any Tamil politician.
A: Please do not display your ignorance about the Northern areas over and over again. My statement was almost immediate. I spoke of the social evils introduced into the North being the cause for such a calamity.
?: Why did her murder become a political tool for some Tamil politicians? Have you spoken on those lines.
A: Why should I speak on those lines? The unfortunate incident was made a political tool in the hands of those opposed to our party. They were the people who had been rejected in our Provincial Council election. They seemed to have thought this was a good opportunity to cash in. But our people are clever. They saw through the whole diabolical episode.
?: After the war came to an end six years ago, how is the Northern Province viewed as or turned out to be for the people living there.
A: We have an Army of about 150,000 still occupying our areas as if the war is not over yet. They have taken over our agricultural lands, houses, businesses, tourist sites, fisheries and what not. They are not prepared to hand back and go. What do you want me to say?
?: How do you view the present situation in the country, compared to the situation under the former regime.
A: Certainly, a better democratic atmosphere is perceivable. The dictatorial corrupt past is no more. But, there is very little difference in the manner in which the North-Eastern minority problems are handled. The centre is still interested in undermining the provincial administration.
?: Some say the Northern people need to change their attitudes and accept changes and be modernized while some others say the changes have basically taken a worst turn. What changes do you see.
A: We say the same thing. The Southern people need to change their attitudes and accept changes and be modernized! Change of heart and correction of the false history of this country so far publicized is the key to reconciliation in this country. I see no change in this regard.
?: You have said that hard drugs have been deliberately introduced to the North. What evidences do you have.
A: It was not available before May 2009. Also, if you want to know what collaboration between Central Government and NPC on drug matters meant, this weekend in Colombo we are meeting at the Dangerous Drugs Control Board to formulate some immediate steps regarding the control of drugs. Dr. Nilantha Samarasinghe will coordinate. Central Government will come to the aid of the NPC in this regard.
?: Ever since you became the CM and the TNA took control of the North and the East, there is hardly anything done for the people. Besides saying ‘there isn’t power entrusted to us’ and ‘only we could voice calling the attention of the government to do something’, there are some measures that could be taken to attend to the welfare of the people who voted for you. What has the NPC accomplished so far.
A: You must ask the person if that is true. You must ask those who come and express their thanks for what has been done for them. While the Centre is trying to undermine us we are proceeding. When the hen lays an egg it shrieks and lets the whole area know about it. Not so the tortoise which lays hundreds of eggs. You are trying to assess us by the standards of hens of yesteryears.
?: Is it a new trend in the North that youths are becoming addicted to pornography and browsing internet on mobile phones, downloading x-rated movies? How alarming is this trend.
A: That needs study. You must ask those well versed in such subjects.
?: There is an assumption that the incidence of crime and rape is increasing in the North because there are no recreational activities for the people. Have you focused on this issue.
A: Get rid of the military and the drug menace, the people will have all the recreation and freedom.
?: How much funds the new government has allocated to the NPC and what are you doing with the funds.
A. We asked for an enhanced sum as soon as this government came in. But, we are yet to receive same. We have been given so far lesser than what we got last year. We are carefully spending what little we received prudently and thriftily.
?: The five big islands in the Northern Province are totally neglected. There isn’t anything for the people in those islands. Crimes taking place on these islands are unreported. What plans do you have to improve the living standard of the people there.
A: It is less than two years since we inherited the NPC. You cannot expect what Provincial Councils of over 25 years have achieved from us. We have visited the islands, acclimatized ourselves with their problems and slowly but positively moving forward. Do not forget the islands were run like private fiefdoms a few years ago. Necessary steps are being taken in the right direction.
?: The government said it is in the process of reducing the military presence in the North. How is the security situation? Is there freedom of movement.
A: There is no reduction perceivable. Do you mean people’s security or regime security? There is regime security with so many armed personnel around though restricted to their camps. But, peoples’ security? Dutugemunu said ‘how could I stretch my legs when the Tamils are on one side and the sea on the other’. How could there be freedom of movement under the existing circumstances?
?: Do you think that the people in the North will have the freedom to protest after the incidents of pelting stones at the police and the Court House during which 130 persons were arrested.
A: We must stop this business of arresting all and sundry when some incident happens. Or at least check their involvement before sending them all into remand prisons, especially very young persons. Future is not ours to say.
?: There is a charge that war widows are being neglected and that they are being sexually abused. What have you done about that.
A: Studies are being made. Steps are being taken to ameliorate their lot. What you referred to is the general popular viewpoint.
?: The Indian media reported that nearly 120,000 engineering student vacancies are available in Tamil Nadu (TN). Shouldn’t the NPC structure a plan with TN and plan a scholarship programme for the underprivileged North-East students.
A: I will bring your viewpoint to the notice of my Education Minister.
?: The government is talking about a local mechanism to probe alleged war crimes and a UN working group is expected to come here in August. Has the local mechanism been launched? In what way are the Tamil politicians supporting the process.
A: I do not know.
?: What inputs have you drafted that could be included in the local mechanism.
A: When I am unaware, how could I draft my inputs?
?: Are you aware how the government is preparing to face the UNHRC in Geneva this September where Colombo would be taken for review.
A: A good question. But I have answered your question in my answers to your two previous questions. At least you are aware what is expected to be done.