By A.R.S. Mahalingam
The news items of the severe dearth of news paper print in the North reminds me of the good old Tamil saying which likens ‘a man, fallen from a tree being butted to death by a bull’.Since August 11 last year, the day hostilities erupted in the North, circulation of all Colombo based newspapers came to a stand-still with the closure of the A9 Road indefinitely. It’s now almost six months since the newspaper reading public, moreso the English paper reading public, had been deprived of their basic human rights of reading material and to know what events are taking place around the world in general and in Sri Lanka in particular. Added to this severe constraint the other news media like the Radio and TV have their own limitations. Reception of F.M. radio channels from Colombo are either not clear or hard to be heard and so are the TVs sans relay stations. The only FM channel that is clear and receptive is the “Voice of the Tigers” and their version of the day to day happenings have been taken for granted as the gospel truth in the absence of any other means of information.
If the state does not take note of so many other forms of human rights violations that are rampant in the North in addition to the severe shortage of all basic needs of humanity, how on earth could any one expect the same state to find ways and means of sending at least state owned newspapers across for the news starved public?
While being in Jaffna till December last, I have been quenching my insatiable thirst for reading by wetting my lips on past old dailies and week-end editions. It is only after my arrival in Colombo that I did realize the gravity of the ground situation that had taken place all around, with some sensational news like that of the fall of Sampur and Vakarai in the East to the hands of the armed forces, which fact I fear may still not have reached the man on the marshy by-lanes of the peninsular in full, as the true version of these news stories may have been either distorted or blacked out by the two available Tamil publications of the two-sheet print that are at the mercy of the “super powers”.
It is under these circumstances that I plead with all the Colombo based newspaper authorities to use their goodwill and influence on the powers that be to have at least a few hundred copies of each newspaper publication to be sent across by sea or air as saline treatment to a newspaper reading public almost starving to death.
[A letter to the Editor, in dailymirror.lk]