Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 14 June 2015





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

All’s not well in the North

Academics and experts explain why:

Recent incidents in the North have given rise to allegations of increasing anti-social activity, increased alcohol consumption and drug addiction in the the post-war era, especially among the younger generation. Sunday Observer spoke to a cross-section of people to ascertain the veracity of such allegations and the possible reasons for the emerging problems.

Picture courtesy:

Psychiatrists, principals, journalists, a senior administrative officer, an academic, a civil society activist and security forces personnel expressed their views. There were mixed reactions where some blamed the state mechanism of the previous regime, while others denied it. Psychiatrists gave a clear cut explanation of the psychological aspects of the changing dynamics in the post-conflict period.


Jaffna Central College Principal, K.Elilvendan: Consumption of alcohol and addiction to drugs and other intoxicants among Northern society, even among school children, has increased many folds. I have had to deal with some students of the College on such complaints in the recent months. There are stalls in the vicinity of the College where intoxicating substance in the form of splintered arecanuts are sold near the College, according to my information.

The Northern society is now emerging as a multi-cultural society, especially in the post conflict period, after continued displacement in the past, overseas expatriation and new ways of livelihood combined with the much-improved transport facilities, easy access to places and unrestricted availability of such intoxicating stuff.

Blind eye

We cannot hold anyone responsible but there may be instances where the law enforcement authorities may be turning a blind eye for monetary benefits. I think civil society and political leaderships should focus on arresting the trend and conduct awareness programs regarding the long-term ill effects these contacts.

Government Agent for Mannar, M.Y.S. Deshapriya: The Mannar Government Secretariat has not come across cases of drug addiction or drugs such as heroin being sold or smuggled into these areas. But there have been instances of the local brew of illicit arrack being freely available and I have held discussions with the relevant authorities on tackling this issue.

It has also been reported that there were several transit points for smuggling ‘ganja’ or ‘marijuana’ along the coastal areas of the district and the District Secretariat is taking action in coordination with the law enforcement authorities. I do not know whether or not such illegal activities are conducted with the support of the security forces or the police, but I am aware that the security forces have been devotedly involved in social welfare activities in recent times. They conducted Tamil/Sinhala New Year functions on a grand scale and organise sports competitions among local sports clubs. This time around they held Poson dansals and other such activities.

A freelance journalist, who wished to remain anonymous and operating from Kilinochchi: It is true that the use of alcohol, mainly arrack and toddy, has increased in the post-conflict period. ‘Ganja’ and an intoxicating substance known as ‘Mawa’ consisting of splintered arecanut are freely available in the Jaffna district and other Northern districts. But I am not aware of heroin or substances of that nature being clandestinely sold or being available in Jaffna.

Even school-going children in the 15 -18 age group were consuming these intoxicants and many were addicted to them. This is basically due to the fear psychosis of the people during the three-decade conflict. Civil societies should counsel and initiate awareness programs to change the situation.

Dr. S. Sivathas, psychiatrist attached to the Vavuniya Government hospital: I treat an increasing number of patients for alcohol and drug addiction and want to be rehabilitated. The 30-year-war and the trauma caused by it has affected their mental status, consequently, it has had its impact on the social fabric leading to vulnerability to alcohol, that is freely available, and narcotic drugs that are being clandestinely sold.

Although the percentage of increase is not available, it certainly has increased. This situation is also reflected in family disputes, separations and violence against women.


A psychiatrist, attached to the Kilinochchi Government hospital, on conditions of anonymity confirmed the views held by Dr. Sivathasan.

Chief Editor of the Asian Tribune K. P. Rajasingham, said that there is no truth in the accusations that security forces personnel promoted drug peddling in the Northern province.

Until the military defeat in May 2009, the LTTE was peddling drugs but they avoided the Northern Province.

They targeted the South. It is an open secret that local politicians of popular Tamil political parties of the North were now involved in drug peddling. Many of them are owners of wine stores and toddy taverns. They must be held responsible for the current social deterioration.

A retired government servant, living in Jaffna also spoke on conditions of anonymity: It is true that the LTTE was involved in drug peddling on a large scale, but they only had international dealings. In the post-conflict period drugs have been going to the Northern Province with the blessings of the government security forces which, in turn, has contributed to anti-social activities.


Jaffna Hindu College Principal, I. Dayanandaraja: While it is true that certain intoxicants are being sold within close proximity to the school, I have not received any complaints that students of my school were involved in these nefarious activities. Police have arrested many dealers. Unscrupulous traders should be held responsible.

S. Sooriyakumary, Director of Offer Ceylon, a civil society organisation mainly dealing with Northern repatriates in Tamil Nadu: It is wrong to conclude that everything that happens in the post-conflict period should be blamed on the security forces and the police. It is the unscrupulous traders belonging to all communities who should be held responsible for this social deterioration.

This is a common phenomenon in the North and the South. Incidents where students of some popular schools in Colombo are found the worse for liquor in public places have been reported over and over again. There are wine stores and toddy taverns in Jaffna - one tavern for every 10 shops.

I know instances when the Government gave Rs.50,000 to repair houses, the head of the family spent almost half of that amount consuming liquor. It is the social responsibility of all responsible citizens and organisations to take meaningful and effective steps to correct the situation.


Chief Advisor to the Ceylon Tamil Teachers’ Union and Director on International Affairs T. Mahasivam: Even the Northern PC Chief Minister, V. Wigneswaran has pointed out that the security forces and the police should be held responsible for the social deterioration due to drug use in the Northern Province. Certain politicians of the South in coordination with the Army and the police promoted it.

It should be noted that consequent to the Pungudutivu incident where a schoolgirl was gang raped and murdered, the Jaffna Magistrate has ordered the police to take strong steps to prevent such incidents.

Meanwhile, Security Forces Commander for Jaffna, Maj. Gen. Nandana Udawatte speaking to the media on Wednesday said the Army had maintained discipline and was there to protect the people in the post-conflict period. Allegations that the Army had promoted drug peddling in the North and its use was baseless.

The Army was engaged in operations to counter the drug menace in the peninsula as well as in the Northern Province, he was quoted as saying at the media conference.

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