By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
The people of Vailikamam North were forced to leave their houses in 1990. Valikamam North comprises 16% of Jaffna peninsula. 165 square kilometers have been declared as High Security Zone. 85,000 inhabitants were forced to seek shelter in welfare camps. They have been living in welfare camps since 16 th of June 1990. The middle class people who could afford, have deiced to rent houses in other areas after spending some time in the welfare camps. None of them had been to their villages since they left in 1990. They tried several times to get permission to go, but permission was not granted. Nobody knows whether their houses are intact or destroyed.
The High Security Zone covers the villages- Palay, Kattuvan, Mylitty, Vasavilan, Valali, Kurumbasitty, Oorani, Kankesanthurai, Kerimalai, Maavittapuram, Kollankalatty, Pannalia, Veemenkamam, Vilisitty, Potkalanthambai, Senthankulam, Valithoondal, Palai, and Kilanai.40% of Valikamam North people are vegetarians including the fishermen.
Parameswaran has written his experience of has been lived in Keerimalai for twenty eight years since his birth. The book is named “Vali North: Paradise Life and Camp Life”- A Nostalgia Story. The book touches the warmth and cherishing memories of Keerimali and Maavittapuram- “Benares of Sri Lanka. Parameswaran shares the missed opportunities for the Internally Displaced Persons on Valikamam North, impact of the conflict and cherishing memories of long stretch of sandy beaches in North.
Navaratnam Parameswaran has written his maiden book named “Appu, Aachchi Aanda Mannil” in 2006.
“Vali North: Paradise Life and Camp Life” was launched at the Sri Lanka College of Journalism auditorium on March 18 th 2007. Dr. Mahim Mendis, Head of the Department of Social Studies at Open University presided over the launch.
[Dr. Mahim Mendis, Head of Department of Social Studies at Open University]
“People who were born in North were denied of their rights. People of Jaffna lived with the ethnic conflict. They have suffered so much during the war. The journalists of Jaffna are the best with knowledge of the situation. More people should write about their experience in Jaffna.It took 40 years for me to visit Jaffna. That was my first visit during the peace time. I went to Jaffna by A9. The A9 is closed now. I do not know when I will be able to go to Jaffna again. We, people in South are in solidarity with the people in the North” observed Dr. Mahim Mendis in his opening remarks.
News Editor of Lankadeepa W.G.Gunaratne spoke next at the launch.
[News Editor of Lankadeepa W.G.Gunaratne]
“I had the privilege of taking a dip in Keerimalai. It’s a touching memory for me. Keerimalai is a unique place because we can have a sea bath, sun bath and spring water bath at one place” said W.G. Gunaratne.
Deputy Director, Media Resources Centre of Sri Lanka Press Institute Kalasuri A. Sivanesaselven shared his experience.
[Kalsuri A. Sivanesaselvan, Deputy Director, Media Resource Centre of Sri Lanka Press Institute]
“The journalists fear for their lives now. They are forced to be silent. Journalists in North and East are restricted” said Kalasuri A. Sivanesaselvan.
Vasana Wikremasena,Executive Director of Centre for Intergrated Communication Research and Advocacy reviewed “Vali North: Paradise Life and Camp Life”- A Nostalgia Story.
[Vasana Wikremasena, Executive Director of Centre for Intergrated Communication Research and Advocacy reviewed the book]
“The people of Jaffna consume toddy to cure chicken pox. It has a medicinal value. The people in the South are not aware of this. The soil of Jaffna is fertile. They cultivated onion, chillie, tomato and grapes. But now they are living in welfare camps. The journalists have to write more about the suffering of the people” observed Vasana Wikremasena.
Navaratnam Parameswaran shared some thoughts with the audience at the book launch.
“My mother told me that, late Mahathma Gandhi’s ashes were brought to Keerimalai, and immersed. Keerimalai is a holy place and it attracted a lot tourists earlier. The access to Keerimalai is denied now. I am yearning to go to Keerimalai, take a dip in the sea, and sleep under the Margosa tree in Keerimalai Madam (small hall) while the mild sea breeze passes by” notes Navaratnam Parameswaran.
[The first copy of “Vali North: Paradise Life and Camp Life” was handed over to the Editor of Sudar Oli newspaper Vithyatharan by the authour Navaratnam Parameswaran]
[Audience at the book launch]