Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Monday, May 14, 2018

Derailing racial rapport

By Manekshaw-MAY 12 2018

“For decades northern Sri Lanka was virtually cut off from the rest of the country, by the civil war and the city of Jaffna lost its population and its prestige. But the `Yal Devi’ line from the capital reopened in 2013 and now foreigners and Sri Lankans alike are exploring the city and its fascinating Tamil culture. Intercity trains are supposed to take less than seven hours, though delays are frequent. Reservations for first and second class tickets go on sale 30 days in advance.
Book well in advance to snaffle a seat with large windows for watching the scenery change from lush to dry, dotted with bright-striped Hindu temples”. This was the description given by the London Guardian when the `Yal Devi’ train journey was listed as one of the eighteen best railway journeys in the world by the prestigious newspaper last week.
It was a few days after the London Guardian rating the `Yal Devi’  train journey as being one of the best eighteen train journeys in the world, a Tamil female returning from abroad and travelling with her family from Vavuniya to Jaffna had a bitter experience in the `Yal Devi’.

The Tamil female passenger in her complaint to the Jaffna Police had said a ticket checker on the train was trying to sexually harass her and when she warned him, he began abusing her verbally in bad language and referred to her by saying “You bloody Tamil woman”.

A fellow passenger had recorded the incident on his mobile smart phone and the recording went viral in social media, which had even led Parliamentarian Namal Rajapaksa to call for deterrent action against the railway employee for his unruly behaviour against the Tamil female passenger.

Following the complaint to the Jaffna Station Master and the Jaffna Police, the ticket checker was arrested and later released on bail by the Jaffna Magistrate.
Preliminary investigations reveal that the ticket checker was under the influence of liquor at the time of the incident and had a track record of misbehaving with passengers.

The London Guardian in its description selecting the `Yal Devi’ train journey as one of the eighteen best train journeys in the world has stated, “For decades northern Sri Lanka was virtually cut off by civil war and the city of Jaffna lost its population and prestige. But the railway line from the capital reopened in 2013, and now foreigners and Sri Lankans alike are exploring the city and its fascinating Tamil culture”.

Therefore, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa prioritizing the resumption of the `Yal Devi’ train service to Jaffna as part of the reconciliation process between the North and South, his son and Parliamentarian, Namal Rajapaksa has every reason to condemn the unruly behaviour of the ticket collector and urging the railway hierarchy to take stern action against him.

The `Yal Devi’ had been the pride of Sri Lanka from the time it commenced as a fully fledged passenger service in 1956 earning a huge revenue for the Sri Lankan Railways.

As the separatist war escalated in the early eighties, with the removal of rail tracks between Jaffna and Vavuniya by the fighters, to sever connections between the two parts of the country, the prestigious train service came to a halt thirty years ago making the land route journey between Colombo and Jaffna miserable.
When the `Yal Devi’ train service resumed five years ago, it was not only local train passengers between Colombo and Jaffna, even Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates abroad expressed their pleasure.

As the `Yal Devi’ has its own stories of fabulous journeys in the past, local passengers as well as expatriate Tamils looked forward to travelling in a peaceful atmosphere by train between Jaffna and Colombo.

At the early stages of the communal unrest in the country, the `Yal Devi’ services were affected due to unruly mobs targeting Jaffna-bound passengers.

In 1977, the Jaffna-bound `Yal Devi’ train was attacked when it stopped at the Anuradhapura station. Tamil passengers were attacked and their valuables were robbed.

In the mid-eighties the `Yal Devi’ was set on fire at the Kondavil Railway Station in Jaffna.

With the resumption of the `Yal Devi’ in 2013, early reservations were even made from various parts of the world by Tamil expatriates to travel to Jaffna.

As peace loving innocent civilians in the country, as well as Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates expect every avenue leading to a healthy reconciliation to be strengthened, incidents of this nature should be seriously dealt with.

The late veteran Communist leader and Minister, Pieter Keuneman who in his last wish wanted his collection of books to be donated to the refurbished Jaffna Public Library, commenting on the inception of the `Yal Devi’, once said “it was the life line of coexistence between the North and the South”.

Therefore, the present regime which came to power with the good governance slogan should ensure that ultra nationalist sentiments should be rooted out in the best interests of strengthening peace and harmony in the country.

The London Guardian’s best eighteen train services in the world are as follows:
1. Colombo to Jaffna `Yal Devi’.
2. London to Fort William (Britain)
3. Bilbao to Ferrol (Spain)
4. Tradheim to Bodo (Norway)
5. Naples to Palermo (Italy)
6. Bastia to Ajaccio (Corsica)
7. Mostar to Sarajevo (Bosnia)
8. Johannesburg to Cape Town (South Africa)
9. Addis Ababa to Djibouti City (East Africa)
10. Kapiri Mposhi to Dar Es Salaam (Zambia/Tanzania)
11. Los Mochis to Chihuahua (Mexico)
12. Sudbury to White River (Canada)
13. Anchorage to Fair banks (Alaska)
14.Lima to Hunancayo (Peru)
15.Mettupalayam to Udagamandalam (India)
16.Xhining to Lhasa (China /Tibet)
17.Poipet to Sisophon (Cambodia)
18.Belgrave to Gembrook, Victoria (Australia)