Now, the 'unitary' call comes from Jaffna
A newspaper report yesterday stated that the Bishops of Jaffna,
Mannar and Anuradhapura have assured President Mahinda Rajapaksa of
their support to preserve the unitary status and sovereign integrity of
this island nation.
They have offered this assurance at a meeting with the President in
Colombo. It is the most welcome assurance at the beginning of this year
from these much respected religious dignitaries. The Bishops in these
three districts play a vital role in the day to day lives of the people
living in these strife torn areas. In other words, they are the 'saviours'
who always come to the rescue of people affected by violence. They speak
on their behalf in a fearless manner.
The discussion with the President had centred on the current
situation and problems of civilians in those areas.
The religious dignitaries have welcomed the swift action taken by the
state to provide relief to civilians isolated by the recent skirmishes
in those areas. They have also commended the services of the troops with
regard to relief measures provided to the affected people.
The call to protect the unitary character of the nation by these
religious leaders would now, certainly strengthen the hands of the
President who prior to being elected pledged to uphold the unitary
character of this country. In that bid, he said he would walk that extra
mile to meet the LTTE leader to negotiate reasonable and just solution
under a unitary state.
The three Bishops have upheld that all problems could be sorted out
through a dialogue. Similarly, the President, from day one had held this
view. The Bishops have also reposed their faith in the All Party
Conference process now in progress as the way out to resolve the
conflict situation. The position taken by these three Bishops may not be
to the liking of the LTTE and Velupillai Prabakaran who are bent on
achieving a dreamland called "Eelam" through violence.
The three religious leaders have quite rightly upheld that this tiny
island nation cannot be divided into parts. Time and again they have
stressed the need to find a negotiated settlement and spoke on behalf of
the suffering civilian population.
Extensive devolution to the periphery is quite possible under a
unitary state. A devolution process to satisfy the aspirations of people
living in the four corners of the country does not mean division. Those
in the South too should realise these facts.
As much as the people in the South are eager to develop their areas,
the people living in the North and East too want their areas developed.
They too need pure drinking water and other infra-structural facilities.
In the past, we have failed in developing those areas, though we
launched massive development projects under the Mahaweli Development
Now, the time has come to realise these failures and shortcomings.
Such areas need urgent attention and remedy. If the people in those
areas are provided with such facilities, it will be difficult for the
LTTE to convince them to fight for a separate state.
For the first time since Independence, the present Government headed
by President Rajapaksa has given thought to go ahead with a development
process to benefit the people in the North and East. The massive
Moragahakanda Project, costing four billion rupees would be commissioned
by the end of this month.
This project is solely funded by the Government with no foreign
financial component by way of aid. The people in those areas clamour for
basic amenities like water, highways, road network, health and
education. If we provide adequate facilities in these much important
spheres, no doubt the people in the North and East would corner the LTTE
as a bunch of terrorists who are out to destroy life and property.
Many religious leaders in the South have opposed a division of this
country. Their clarion call was for a unitary state.The President too
has upheld that position. Now, the Bishops of Jaffna and Mannar, in
particular, have called to preserve the unitary character of this
As of now, it is only the LTTE which is crying for a division which
is most impossible. Political leaders must stop harping at meetings and
putting up posters that incite communal feelings. The streets of Colombo
are now, not meant for useless protests of such nature as the tensed
security situation too does not provide for such unworthy acts.
Also there's no need for such protests now as the call to preserve
the unitary state has now come from the North. The voice of the Jaffna
and Mannar Bishops, is the voice of the people of the North and East.
And not of the treacherous LTTE.
The clarion call to preserve the unitary character of the state will
add more strength and vigour to all of us to proudly commemorate our
59th Independence Day on February 4. We are just three weeks away from
that historic day.