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Home > Tamils - a Trans State Nation > Human Rights & the Tamil Nation > Somasunderam Nadesan > On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, 2 May 1961
On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, April 1961
Speech delivered during the course of the debate on
The State of Emergency in the Second Senate on 2 May 1961
[see also On Sri Lankan Army's Attack on Peaceful Satyagrahis, 9 May 1961]
"...The voice of the representatives of the Tamil people has been virtually silenced. The military have been let loose on the Northern and Eastern Provinces and from all accounts are behaving - at any rate so far as the Jaffna Peninsula is concerned - as if they were a conquering army in occupation of enemy territory....(In) the early hours of the 18th (of April) the military, without any warning and without informing the satyagrahis assembled at the Jaffna Kachcheri that an emergency had been declared, assaulted the men satyagrahis mercilessly, bundled the women satyagrahis into trucks and transported them. The military also vented their wrath on a large number of push bicycles and even on some motor cars parked at the Kachcheri gates. If the reports are true, the army seems to have displayed considerable courage and valour in their attacks on unarmed 'satyagrahis and on inanimate objects like push bicycles! Certain Government quarters, I am told, believe that the Ceylon Army had covered itself with glory when, under the cover of darkness and armed with modern weapons, it routed a band of unarmed satyagrahis in what will go down in history as the "Battle of Jaffna"!... Immediately the "Battle of Jaffna" was over, the army proceeded to waylay and hit all and sundry on t he roads of Jaffna on the ground that they were breaking a curfew order, of which most of them were unaware."
"...why was the Army let loose on the entire population of the Northern and Eastern provinces, particularly those of the Jaffna Peninsula? Why was a curfew imposed? Even if it was thought necessary to have a curfew at the outset, why is it being continued even today? Why have the military on their own imposed a curfew even in villages in respect of which a curfew has not been proclaimed? Why are the farmers of Jaffna who ordinarily go to their fields in these hot days at 4 o'clock in the morning prevented from doing so till well after 6 a.m.? Why have the military been beating and thrashing innocent passers-by on the streets of Jaffna? Why have some of them been helping themselves to goods and articles in shops and asking the owners to send the bills to the F.P. leader? Why have cars been commandeered as if a great military campaign was afoot? Why has petrol been issued on permits in Jaffna, when there is enough petrol for everybody? Why have car owners been made to queue up for permits for petrol at the Kachcheri and subjected to humiliating remarks by army sentries? Why have the military prevented people from having their lights on at night? Because they have been asked not to 'shoot, why have they indulged in the pastime of throwing stones at houses? Why have they set fire to fences and madams. and put the blame on the people? Are these acts of organised terrorism and lawlessness the result of any orders given to the army to strike terror into the inhabitants of Jaffna so that they might give up their agitation for their language rights.
Today, there is greater lawlessness in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula than there has ever been at any time in its recent history - lawlessness by the guardians of law! The army have by their terrorist tactics provoked retaliation in a number of cases, but that is no reason why the army should continue to be let loose on the peaceful people of Jaffna when the only legitimate purpose for which it could have been used was to clear the entrances to the Government offices and keep those entrances clear for public use..."
Mr. President, it is more than a week since the emergency has been declared. Normal democratic rights - at any rate so far as the Northern and Eastern Provinces are concerned – have been curtailed. A rigid censorship has been imposed. All the elected Representatives of the Tamil people, excepting two, are under detention. The Mayor of Jaffna, Sir Kanthiah Vaithianathan, who was once a distinguished public servant and later a Minister of State, Mr. M. Thiruchelvam, Queen's Counsel and a former Solicitor-General, and several other Tamil leaders have been arrested and detained without trial. The voice of the representatives of the Tamil people has been virtually silenced. The military have been let loose on the Northern and Eastern Provinces and from all accounts are behaving - at any rate so far as the Jaffna Peninsula is concerned - as if they were a conquering army in occupation of enemy territory.
This state of affairs, naturally, cannot be permitted to continue without grave and irreparable injury to the relations between the two main nationalities inhabiting this country, as well as to the country's economy. We are passing through a period of grave crisis. At such a time as this, it is essential that hone Members of this House should express their views with candour so that the Government may be left in no doubt with regard to such views, and I propose to take the opportunity afforded by the adjournment motion to express my views on the present situation and to pose certain questions for the consideration of the Government.
At the outset, I desire to emphasize that the first and most important task for any civilised administration is the maintenance of law and order. A government which fails to maintain law and order renders itself incapable of affording to its citizens that protection to which they are entitled. Maintenance of law and order by government is thus the first essential of organised social and political life. This is a basic principle on which I think all of us are agreed. If one examines the happenings in the Northern and Eastern Provinces since the 20th of February, 1961, in the light of this principle, one will find that Government has signally failed to discharge its primary duty of maintaining law and order.
Mr President, the Federal Party, finding that the Government was unyielding in the matter of what the party conceived to be the legitimate rights of the Tamil-speaking people, embarked on what has been called a satyagraha campaign for the purpose of winning those rights. Due credit must, of course, be given to this Government which, by its intransigent policy on the language question, drove the F.P. to direct action. Now this satyagraha campaign took the form of a large number of unarmed and mainly peaceful men and women blocking the entrances to the Kachcheri and certain other offices in the Northern and Eastern Provinces with a view to preventing public officers entering those premises and transacting business.
The Government spokesman has said that there was a certain amount of intimidation also practised by the satyagrahis. This is quite likely, as where large numbers are concerned it is impossible that everyone would have adopted a high standard of behavior expected of a true satyagrahi.
Apart from the blocking of the Kachcheri entrances by these unarmed and peaceful people - who, incidentally, spent a good portion of their time in singing religious and devotional songs - the rest of the Tamil-speaking population in the Northern and Eastern provinces went about their work peacefully.
The F.P. leaders themselves exhorted the people to be peaceful and non-violent and practise ahimsa even under provocation. It must be said that the population generally responded to these exhortations. There were, of course, occasional meetings and processions in which the people participated demanding their language rights. It is quite likely that sometimes unseemly remarks were made - particularly by the younger elements among. these processionists - at the military or the police, but generally it is agreed on all hands that it was a peaceful and nonviolent agitation. Even the Government Agent of the Northern Province was constrained to refer to the satyagrahis as great gentlemen.
It is also significant that the Sinhalese residents in these two provinces carried on their normal trade and business without any hindrance. There was no boycott of their shops and social relations between the two communities in the two provinces went on as if nothing untoward had happened. No racial cry of any kind was raised and no anti-Sinhalese feeling was roused. The agitation was directed solely against the Government. But whatever may be the moral justification for this campaign, the fact remains that obstruction by large numbers of people of access to Government offices, thereby bringing the administration to a standstill, is an offence under the Penal Code.
The persons participating in such obstruction, apart from making themselves liable to punishment under Sections 332, 343 and 344 of the Ceylon Penal Code, were also guilty of the offence of participating in an unlawful assembly under Section 140 of the same Code. These offences, which in ordinary life would have been considered serious, were particularly so when one remembers that the Governmental machinery was unable to function as a- result of these unlawful actions. The word 'satyagraha' cannot disguise the obvious fact that those who participated in it were guilty of grave offences. These participants must have been aware of it and possibly were prepared to face the consequences.
As a result of the Kachcheri being blocked the people of Jaffna were deprived of their rations and public servants and pensioners of their salaries and pensions. Whilst a number of people who suffered may have been sympathisers of the F.P. yet it cannot be denied that there were several persons opposed to the F.P. who were deprived of their rations and other services. It is well known that the Commimist Party and its supporters, most of whom came from a section of the working classes, while in agreement with the demand for language rights, were opposed to the satyagraha campaign. It was a moral and legal duty of the Government to distribute rations and render the necessary services to its citizens
During the first two weeks of the satyagraha campaign in Jaffna, the Government ensured the distribution of rations by adopting the simple device of having the issue orders delivered at. the various co-operatives but this practice was stopped, with the result that the supporters and opponents of the satyagraha campaign alike had to go without their rations in Jaffna as they were unable to buy them. Consequently, Government administration was paralysed partly by the unlawful activities of the satyagrahis and partly by the refusal of Government to adopt alternative methods of carrying on the administration.
In this state of affairs what was the obvious duty of the Government? Its obvious duty was to enforce the law of the land .to clear the passages to the kachcheries and other government offices by dispersing the satyagrahis by all lawful means so that Government administration may be carried on. The ordinary laws of the land gave the Government ample powers to achieve these results. It is absurd to imagine that in any civilised country, whether it is Ceylon or elsewhere, the ordinary laws can be insufficient to prevent the administration from collapse merely because a large number of unarmed people, singing devotional songs, blocked the entrances to Government offices. The first step that the Government should have taken was to have arrested, at any rate, the leaders of this movement and brought them to task. If need be, a special magistrate could have been gazetted for the expeditious disposal of these cases. In addition to this, the Government could have utilised the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code for the purpose of clearing the entrances to these Government offices.
I might just read out the relevant sections from the Criminal Procedure Code so that hone Senators may know what powers this Government had for the purpose of dispersing these persons participating in this unlawful assembly, who have been described as satyagrahis, by the F.P. This is what Section 99 says:
“Any Police Magistrate and ,any peace officer not below the rank of Inspector, Koral a, Muhandiram, or Udaiyar may command any unlawful assembly or any assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace to disperse, and it shall thereupon be the duty of the members of such assembly to disperse accordingly.”
Section 100 says:
"If upon being so commanded any such assembly does not disperse or if without being so commanded it conducts itself in such a manner as to show a determination not to disperse, any Police Magistrate or any such peace officer as in the last preceding section mentioned may proceed to disperse such assembly by force and may require the assistance of any male person (not being an officer of soldier of the Defence Force duly enrolled under the provisions of any law and acting as such) for the purpose of dispersing such assembly and if necessary arresting and confining the persons who form part of it in order to disperse such assembly or that they may be punished according to law.”4.
Section 101 says:
"If any such assembly cannot be otherwise dispersed and if it is necessary for the public security that it should be dispersed, the, Government Agent of the Province or any Police Magistrate having jurisidction who is present or the Inspector-General of Police may cause it to be dispersed by military force."
Section 102 says:
"When the Government Agent, Police Magistrate, or the Inspector General of Police determines to disperse any such assembly by military force he may require any commissioned or non-commissioned officer in command of any soldiers in Her Majesty's Army or (if the Governor so direct in writing) of any soldiers of the Defence Force duly enrolled under the provisions of any law to disperse such assembly by military force and to arrest and confine such persons forming part of it as the Government Agent, Police Magistrate, or Inspector-General of Police may direct or as it may be necessary to arrest and confine in order to disperse the assembly or to have them punished according to law. .
Every such officer shall obey such requisition in such manner as he thinks fit, but in so doing he shall use as little force and do as little injury to person and property as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons."
So that, you will see that Section 99 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides for any magistrate or any peace officer not below the rank of inspector to command any unlawful assembly to disperse and it shall then be the duty of the members of the assembly to disperse Section 100 of the Criminal Procedure Code provides that if such an assembly does not disperse on being so commanded, any magistrate or peace officer referred to in Section 99 may proceed to disperse the assembly by resort to civil force, which means the police.
Section 101 provides that if the unlawful assembly cannot be dispersed by resort to civil force, the government agent of the province or the magistrate having jurisdiction in the area may cause the unlawful assembly to be dispersed by military force and Section 102 provides that when the Government Agent or the Magistrate or the Inspector-General of Police decides to disperse any such assembly by military force, he may require any commissioned or non-commissioned officer in command of soldiers of Her Majesty's Army or of any soldiers of the Defence Force to disperse such assembly by military force and to arrest and confine in order to disperse the unlawful assembly or to have them punished according to law. The section goes on to provide that the military officers shall carry out the direction, but in doing so shall use as little force and do as little injury to person and property as may be consistent with dispersing the assembly and arresting and detaining such persons.
Surely, action could easily have been taken under the above provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code to clear the passages to the various Government offices in the Northern and Eastern Provinces by resort, if need be, to military force. The military, who were let loose in the early hours of the morning of 18th April under cover of an emergency and who performed their task of clearing the approaches to the Jaffna Kachcheri in a matter of minutes, could easily have been employed in terms of the Criminal Procedure Code, under the ordinary laws of the land and in the immediate presence of a Magistrate, to clear these passages and to arrest and confine persons for the purpose of clearing the obstruction. Why did not the Government use these powers? Why did it sit supinely for weeks and allow the continued obstruction of public offices and the consequent inconvenience to the public? Why did it not enforce the law and send all offenders, more particularly the leaders of this unlawful campaign, to jail? Why did the Government not do so if it was determined to maintain law and order in the country?
The Government has stated that it was being patient and tolerant and did not wish to interfere in what it considered was an agitation for language rights. Tolerant of what? Lawlessness! Patient with what? Lawlessness! What a sorry confession to make. No, Mr President, let not the Government imagine that people are so naive as to believe these stories. The Government could easily have enforced the law and cleared the paths to the kachcheries and Government offices with the aid of its armed forces, if need be, in accordance with the ordinary laws of the land and subject to the scrutiny of the law.
. But instead of acting as any normal civilised administration should, it resorted to what may be described as a counter satyagraha. It decided to permit the satyagrahis to break the law of the land with impunity so that the unfortunate people who were deprived of their rice rations, their salaries, pensions and other services may force the F.P. in course of time to call off the satyagraha.
Some of the Ministers of Government even said that time was on their side. They thought that it was proper for the Government not to enforce the law and permit lawlessness to prevail until time came to their rescue. Naturally the situation did not improve.
This regrettable inactivity of the Government served as propaganda for the F.P. and created in the minds of ordinary humble people the feeling that this Government was not prepared to enforce law-and order. One cannot blame the people for thinking so, for here was a Government which admitted that it was unable to distribute rice rations in Jaffna because a number of unarmed people blocked the entrances to the Jaffna Kachcheri.
The Government did not appear to have the physical resources to have these entrances cleared by resort to the normal laws of the land and allow the Kachcheri to operate; or the mental resources to devise some alternative method of catering to the needs of the people pending the clearing of the entrances to the Kachcheri. Or was it that the Government wanted to penalise a whole popu1tion on account of the law-breaking activities of the satyagrahis and their leaders, instead of dispersing the lawbreakers, if need be, by resort to armed force and prosecuting the leaders?
However that may be, this Government, which in its Address of Thanks to the Throne Speech proudly proclaimed its determination to enforce law and order says, for some mysterious reason, that it had been tolerating the law-breakers and exercising patience. If a Government tolerates lawbreaking, what does it expect the law-breakers to do? Give up law-breaking or to obtain more arid more recruits to the campaign of law-breaking which has been called satyagraha? Is it not obvious that if the Government had acted in accordance with the ordinary laws of the land, the situation could have been brought under control long ago and there would have been no necessity to declare an emergency and deprive people of their democratic right&? In any event, such an invasion on the liberties of people is permissible only after resort is had to the ordinary law and when it has been proved that the situation cannot be controlled under such law.
The law-breakers at the Jaffna Kachcheri went on merrily with their campaign for weeks when the F.P. decided to intensify the satyagraha and to embark on what they now described as their civil disobedience movement by extending their law-breaking campaign.
For some reason they decided to commence this evil disobedience campaign by selling postage stamps and running a postal service, thereby committing an offence under the Post Office Ordinance. No one in Jaffna, not even the members of the F.P. took this postal service seriously so as to entrust any letters of consequence to be distributed by it, but several persons bought these postage stamps with a view to increasing the funds 6f the F.P. The postal peons were recruited from among Members of Parliament themselves, and people knew that these postal peons would go on strike within a couple of days, lest they should get afflicted .with heart trouble!
After the usual trumpeting and the attendant ceremonies, the leader of the F.P. in the presence of the army and the police force of the lawful Government of Sri Lanka, proceeded ceremoniously to sell the stamps and to inaugurate this service; and the first letters were delivered by these M.P. postal peons to the Government Agent and the Superintendent of Police. It is doubtful if any other letters were delivered, as people would not have taken any risk with their correspondence.
What was the obvious duty of a Government determined to maintain law and order? Surely its obvious duty, as soon as the first stamp was sold and the postal service inaugurated, was to have arrested the F.P. leaders, seize the stamps, produce the leaders before a Magistrate and have them sent to jailor otherwise punished. Why was this not done?
As it was, the postal service collapsed even before the emergency was declared because they had run out of stamps. They also found that, though people purchased stamps, they were not prepared to entrust their letters to them. Besides, the postal peons were otherwise busy and the "Post Master General" was at a loose end, because he had not planned to carry on a postal service for more than one week. The postal service was merely meant to afford an opportunity to members of the F.P. who were so disposed, to embark on a law breaking spree. They expected, and everybody expected, that the Government would enforce the law, but these actions of the F.P. which had as its object the breaking of further laws, were also tolerated by the Government. Why?
Why were not the stamps and implements of this "post office" seized on the first day itself? Why were not the "Post Master General" and his "peons" prosecuted and sent to jail? Even at that stage why were the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code not utilized and action taken to clear the entrances to the kachcheries? Is it pretended for a moment that if a few people start opening a postal service it is beyond the resources of the State to stop such service by resort to the ordinary laws of the land? In any event, why was not the law first enforced to see the results before this extraordinary step of calling an emergency was taken?
Instead, this Government - which for nearly 50 days condoned a flagrant violation of our laws resulting in a paralysis of its administration in certain kachcheries suddenly saw, or pretended to see in this breach of the Post Office Ordinance, evidence that the F.P. under the guise of asking for language rights, was really wanting a separate State. The Finance Minister only the other day patted himself on the back and said how wise he was for having seen through this little game of the F.P. at the time the Language of the Courts Bill was debated in Parliament and opposing the inclusion of "Tamil" in that Bill.
This action of the F.P. of breaking the provisions of the Post Office Ordinance has been utilised for the purpose of whipping up the feelings of the Sinhalese masses against the Tamils.
After all, the ordinary man cannot understand that the ultimate basis on which any State can be founded in the modern world is the basis of physical force. Separate States cannot be founded by selling postage stamps or by Parliamentarians tbandoning their work in Parliament and becoming postal peons, by unarmed people fasting, praying and blocking the pathways to Kachcheries and Government. offices, by the holding of land kachcheries or by the practice of ahimsa or non-violence!
Besides, the F.P.’s constitution and its mandate were always in respect of the establishment of , a federal State. It has never made any secret of its policy. The attitude of the F.P. that its solution of the language problem involved a creation of a federal State is implicit in the very name of the party and is not something of which people became aware only when the party commenced to sell its own postage stamps.
The F.P. has up to date not abandoned its demand for a federal constitution. It fought the elections on this basis and is wedded to this policy. There is nothing criminal or sinister in this. As a matter of fact, the first person to suggest a federal constitution for Ceylon was the late Mr Bandaranaike himself shortly after his return to this Island after his English education.
However, even conceding that Government first became aware that the F.P. wanted a federal State or a separate State when it proceeded to run an inefficient postal service - which no one trusted, and which had no post offices except at one place, and that on Government property opposite the Jaffna Kachcheri - was it beyond the resources of the 'Government to enforce, even at that stage, law and order by resorting to its powers under the ordinary law? That is the question which Government has to answer.
The Government was not called upon to face an armed rebellion or extensive looting or killing or burning of human beings, as happened in 1958, when the declaration of an emergency and a curfew were necessary to prevent loss of life or property. As a result of the satyagraha campaign there was at no stage any threat to human life or property. There was no danger of any communal strife in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. The Sinhalese in those areas lived in an atmosphere of security, carrying on their normal avocations and living in terms of amity and friendship with Tamils.
The satyagrahis themselves were wedded to a policy of ahimsa. They were unarmed. They devoted themselves to singing religious songs and prayers. Non-violence was the creed of the F.P. Though there might have been stray cases in which the spirit of non-violence was not observed, the entire population remained calm and peaceful. The ordinary law was never enforced and found wanting. .
In such a situation, even at the stage when Government was roused into activity by what it says was the threat of a separate State, why were not the ordinary laws rigidly enforced? Instead, an emergency has been declared for the flimsiest of reasons. These emergency laws are found in most countries of the world, but in no civilized country of the world has an emergency been declared to meet a situation created by unarmed people blocking entrances to Government offices, running a farcical postal service and declaring an intention to hold land kachcheries. The obvious step taken in other countries to meet similar situations has been to enforce the ordinary laws of the land which were always found adequate for the purpose.
Mr President, I would be failing in my duty if I do not categorically state that in my view the Government had no moral or legal justification for the declaration of a state of emergency, particularly when it had not even attempted to use its normal powers for the enforcement of law and order. The emergency was declared on 17th April, 1961. A number of regulations under the Public Security Ordinance, No. 25 of 1947, and orders under the Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions and Powers) Regulations, 1961, were also made on the same day. Some of these orders apply exclusively to the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the full impact of .this emergency has been felt only by the Tamil-speaking people inhabiting these two provinces, particularly those resident in the Jaffna Peninsula.
The first point that I wish to make regarding these emergency regulations and orders is that it was the elementary duty of this Government to have made known these regulations to the Tamil-speaking people. This Government is quite conversant with how to bring matters to the notice of the Tamil-speaking people.
For instance, when it wanted to carry on its propaganda on the language question in the Tamil-speaking areas it did not hesitate to spend large sums of money in getting Mr N. E. Weerasooriya’s article to the "Observer" translated and circulated in the Tamil language. But curiously enough every one of these regulations and orders, affecting as it does the ordinary lives of humble Tamil-speaking people, has been published in the "Government Gazette" in Sinhala and English only - as it it was a matter of indifference to the Government that the Tamil people should be made aware of the regulations and orders which they had to obey during the emergency! Very few of the Tamil-speaking people know Sinhala and only 8 per cent know English. What about the rest of the population?
The British rulers of this country promulgated their regulations in English but they took the trouble of explaining to people important announcements by beat of tom-tom or permitted the lapse of sufficient time for persons to learn the contents of these regulations through newspapers or radio broadcasts. With freedom we were told that regulations will appear in all three languages in the "Gazette", but unfortunately there appears to be a reversion to the ways of imperialism without even the safeguard that British imperialism provided. It is hardly necessary to state that acts such as these are not likely to inspire confidence in the bona fides of this Government.
The second point that I wish to make is that even the English-educated would become aware that an emergency has been declared and of the regulations and orders only when the newspapers or the "Gazette" reaches them. Those in possession of radios may hear the news over the radio. It takes time for such news to spread. If the Government was really interested in the restoration of law and order it should have utilized at least one day for the purpose of informing the people of the fact that an emergency had been declared and of the regulations and orders promulgated. Nothing would have been lost if Government gave a warning to the people regarding the consequences of contravening the law after the declaration of the emergency. It was the duty of Government, by beat of tom-tom, distribtuion of handbills, or other methods of publicity, to have informed the villagers in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the fact of the emergency and of the regulations and orders which they had to obey.
As a matter of fact, the Government Agent at Trincomalee informed the satyagrahis at the Kachcheri that an emergency had been declared and appealed to t hem to leave the Kachcheri premises. All of them peacefully left the place by 10 a.m. on the 18th, and it did not become necessary to use any force for the purpose of dispersing the satyagrahis at Trincomalee and clearing the entrances to the Kachcheri. The Government Agent at Batticaloa adopted the same course of action, similar results. But, for some mysterious reason, the Government in Jaffna did not adopt this sensible course of action.
Instead, the early hours of the 18th the military, without any warning and without informing the satyagrahis assembled at the Jaffna Kachcheri that an emergency had been declared, assaulted the men satyagrahis mercilessly, bundled the women satyagrahis into trucks and transported them. The military also vented their wrath on a large number of push bicycles and even on some motor cars parked at the Kachcheri gates. If the reports are true, the army seems to have displayed considerable courage and valour in their attacks on unarmed 'satyagrahis and on inanimate objects like push bicycles! Certain Government quarters, I am told, believe that the Ceylon Army had covered itself with glory when, under the cover of darkness and armed with modern weapons, it routed a band of unarmed satyagrahis in what will go down in history as the "Battle of Jaffna"!
But people cannot help contrasting this exploit of the Ceylon Army with the one-man victory of the Government Agents at Trincomalee and with Agent in Batticaloa who were able to win their battles by resorting to patient persuasion.
Immediately the "Battle of Jaffna" was over, the army proceeded to waylay and hit all and sundry on t he roads of Jaffna on the ground that they were breaking a curfew order, of which most of them were unaware. It is not necessary for me to go into the details of the exploits of the Ceylon Army in Jaffna Peninsula in the course of this debate. Once the emergency is lifted, it will be time enough to investigate these matters.
The question that arises with regard to the attitude of the military in the Jaffna Peninsula is an important one for the Government to consider. By the time the emergency was declared the F.P.’s postal service had ceased to exist as a result of lack of stamps, complete absence of post offices, lack of custom and the postal peons attending to serious work instead of participating in a farce, the only merit of which - according to the F.P. - was that they were braking the laws of the land. The only unlawful activity therefore in which any section of the people of the Northern and Eastern Provinces were engaged was the obstruction of Government offices.
As I said earlier, the military forces of this country, under the able command of Colonel Udugama, surprised the non-violent satyagrahis about 200 in number - at the Jaffna kachcheri by a skilful manoeuvre. Without resorting to any shooting, but by a deft application of belts, batons, rifle-butts and legs, they routed the enemy and covered themselves with glory.
Now, the only thing that remained to be done was to keep the entrances to the various Government offices open so that the public could transact. their business. This would have been easily done by posting armed patrols at all approaches to the Kachcheri and other Government offices to see that crowds did not collect and by permitting only person with legitimate business to go to those offices. So far as the population outside these areas were concerned, they were peaceful, non-violent and attending to their normal work.
Instead of this being done, why was the Army let loose on the entire population of the Northern and Eastern provinces, particularly those of the Jaffna Peninsula? Why was a curfew imposed? Even if it was thought necessary to have a curfew at the outset, why is it being continued even today? Why have the military on their own imposed a curfew even in villages in respect of which a curfew has not been proclaimed?
Why are the farmers of Jaffna who ordinarily go to their fields in these hot days at 4 o'clock in the morning prevented from doing so till well after 6 a.m.? Why have the military been beating and thrashing innocent passers-by on the streets of Jaffna? Why have some of them been helping themselves to goods and articles in shops and asking the owners to send the bills to the F.P. leader? Why have cars been commandeered as if a great military campaign was afoot? Why has petrol been issued on permits in Jaffna, when there is enough petrol for everybody? Why have car owners been made to queue up for permits for petrol at the Kachcheri and subjected to humiliating remarks by army sentries? Why have the military prevented people from having their lights on at night? Because they have been asked not to 'shoot, why have they indulged in the pastime of throwing stones at houses? Why have they set fire to fences and madams. and put the blame on the people? Are these acts of organised terrorism and lawlessness the result of any orders given to the army to strike terror into the inhabitants of Jaffna so that they might give up their agitation for their language rights
Today, there is greater lawlessness in the Northern and Eastern Provinces and particularly in the Jaffna Peninsula than there has ever been at any time in its recent history - lawlessness by the guardians of law! The army have by their terrorist tactics provoked retaliation in a number of cases, but that is no reason why the army should continue to be let loose on the peaceful people of Jaffna when the only legitimate purpose for which it could have been used was to clear the entrances to the Government offices and keep those entrances clear for public use.
Nor is this all. The Government has even attempted to interfere in the administration of justice by transferring cases pending in the courts of Jaffna to courts in Colombo, thereby preventing witnesses from appearing in cases in which army personnel or the people are accused. If the Government for any reason thought that the judges in Jaffna could not be trusted to do justice in those cases, the obvious step was to have appointed other judges to take their place - not to baulk inquiry and investigation by transferring cases 250 mils away from the place where the alleged offences had been committed.
. If history teaches us anything, it teaches us that national movements thrive on terrorism and repression; and the Ceylon Army have by their conduct in the Jaffna Peninsula given an added impetus for the movement of a national minority to win its language rights. It must also be noted that the true solution to the problem facing Ceylon today cannot be found by resort to armed force. There has to be a political solution of the language problem if Ceylon is to go forward.
Now, the question arise: in what manner is one to find a political solution to this language problem? I intended to address this House at some length on this problem, but in view of the fact that there are a number of hon. Senators who wish to raise certain questions themselves, I do not propose to trouble this House by going into all the aspects of the matter. I only wish to say that, so far as the late Mr Bandaranike was concerned, he was always of the view that this problem should, if possible, be disposed of in a calm atmosphere, an atmosphere in which there was no tension and, if need be, at a round-table conference. As a matter of fact, there is some misunderstanding in certain Government quarters as to the advisability or otherwise of disposing of these matters at a roundtable conference. But the late Mr Bandaranike himself was the person who suggested on more than one occasion that these problems should be thrashed out at a round-table conference and some solution of the language problem should be arrived at.
I do not propose to embark on a discussion of the solution suggested by the late Mr Bandaranaike, nor do I want to enter into a controversy with the Members of the Government with regard to what the policies of Mr Bandaranaike were in respect of the language question. But I only wish to say that no solution is possible in respect of this problem if the majority nationality imagines, because it is in a majority, it can easily impose its will on the minorities. Neither is such solution possible within the ambit of the Official Language Act, the Tamil Language (Special Provisions) Act and the Language of the Courts Act - as some. of the Government Members imagine it is possible
It will indeed be desirable if this problem can be rescued from being the plaything of party politics and solved at a national level at a round-table conference of all parties. If that is not possible, I wish to suggest to the Hon. Prime Miinister even now that it is not too late to appoint an expert committee or commission in which she has confidence for the purpose of reporting on this question so that the Government may have before it some basis on which it may proceed to decide what ,should be done in accordance with the policies of the late Mr Bandaranaike to solve the language problem. But I venture to submit with great respect that the ordinary laws of the land are ample for the purpose of restoring and maintaining law and order in this country, and there is absolutely no reason why this emergency should. be continued for one day longer. I thank you.