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Last updated: 04 April, 2010 - Published 14:22 GMT
 
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A destroyed house in Jaffna (photo: Upali Gajanayake)
"I am seeing a destroyed paradise through the small window of a Sri Lankan air force plane past roofless, somewhat beheaded trees and destroyed walls"

I am seeing Jaffna again only after twenty three years.

For the first time in my life, I entered the great ancient city in 1986 with the late Vijaya Kumarathunga and his political and media entourage.

On that visit we entered the heart of the Jaffna dream city, viewing it through tall coconut trees and growing vegetable beds around Tamil Tiger training camps.

That historical tour splashed over front pages of the local press and international media was organised by the Tamil Tigers who were in control of that Tamil dominated northern neck of land.

Now, flying to Jaffna with journalists on a state sponsored tour, I am seeing a destroyed paradise through the small window of a Sri Lankan air force plane past roofless, somewhat beheaded trees and destroyed walls.

'Destroyed paradise'

Jaffna has now opened her doors for the whole world and for the minority Muslims who left the city following a last warning issued by LTTE.

Many thousands of men, women and children, who escaped the city in silence and with empty hands two decades ago, now can be seen loudly talking and enjoying the city streets. They are once again selling their commodities to Tamil customers.

Vijaya Kumarathunga
Vijaya Kumarathunga visitied Jaffna to talk to Tamil Tiger leadership

Sinhala commercial life is gradually picking up in this beautiful city street.

HR Jothipala, Milton Perera, Milton Mallawarachchhi, Latha Walpola and MS Fernando are singing from Sinhala records bars.

The only Buddhist temple in heart of the Jaffna is over crowded by pilgrims. Onecan hear the "saadhukaara" at the dock where boats can be seen leaving to Nagadeepa (Nainatheevu).

Tamils groups are helping elderly Buddhist pilgrims into boats and the trading is brisk for both sides.

Until now, Sinhala people have being delivered all they hoped for into their hands with no trouble whatsoever.

Election campaign

The LTTE is destroyed; Sinhala government controls the whole of the peninsula.

On the other hand what should be delivered into Tamil hands? No one knows yet. Standing on the street corner at the Jaffna city market I am thinking about political and commercial power coming through the A9.

President Rajapaksa in Jaffna on 01 April 2010
President Rajapaksa made new promises to people in Jaffna

The city is very busy. Thousands of vehicles are running to both directions honking under the signalling of a Sinhala traffic policeman.

Although there are no roofs on most of the houses, the tarmac carpet layer on city roads is lovely.

Most lovely are the peoples' hearts.

A fortnight ago they welcomed the opposition leader Ranil Wickramasinghe. On Thursday the President walked into the main Hindu and Buddhist temples with people and addressed them at the Duraiappa stadium with new promises.

The audience applauded and touched the feet of another Sinhala political leader. That was the manner of a genuine welcome.

In 1986, during my first visit to Jaffna, I read a lot of hope in people eyes and today, I saw the people, gathered in front of their new leader who united the land, seeking fulfilment in his eyes of his future plans for their homeland.

 
 
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