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Home a big issue for Lankan Tamil, not polls


Veeraraghav T M,CNN-IBN
Jan 26, 2010 at 10:54am IST

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Killinochi: Sri Lanka votes on Tuesday in the first elections held after LTTE chief V Prabhakaran's death and Tamil votes could be the deciding factor.

In a camp for the internally displaced people (IDP) in Northern Sri Lanka, people who have lost everything they had in the battle between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Army have been housed.

Eight months after the war ended and Colombo got ready to decide between former Sri Lankan Army chief General Sarath Fonseka and President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the conversations in the refugee camp aren't about the politics or the final outcome but about when they will get back home.

IN THE RACE: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa casts his vote at a polling booth near Madamulana.

A refugee Kishorekanthan used to own a factory and employed eight people in Mullaitivu town. The town was the heart of the LTTE and completely decimated but Kishorekanthan is happy he survived the war alive.

Now he wants to go back and rebuild his life.

"I may have nothing but I just want to go back home. It doesn't matter who wins. I just want to return home," says Kishorekanthan.

Another refugee Mahgeshwari's nine-month-old daughter Niruba was born in a bunker where she and her family were hiding.

He was born in the last and the most intense days of the war. Their family home and land are in Killinochi, once the capital of the LTTE.

Today she wants to go back to find out what's left of it

"It's about the land. I want to go back to my land even if nothing is there," says Maheshwari.

Each family in the camp has a story to tell about how they escaped the war and at the moment the politics of Colombo and the international diplomacy doesn't matter here they want to return to place devastated and destroyed by war, a place they want to rebuild for the future of their children.

What's left of Killinochi is a heap of rubble and a powerful military presence. De-mining operations are on in several areas and till they are over people can't return home.

Virtually every physical structure that stood to symbolise the LTTE has been eliminated and what stands today is a memorial for the Sri Lankan Army's victory.

There is no longer a memorial for the LTTE's fallen cadre which was once existed and it's in this changed environment that Joytheeran has come back to live from the IDP camp.

His tea shop is his present and his future is uncertain.

"I earn whatever I can and we try to survive. Who knows what will happen next," he says.

Perhaps the only thing that can ensure that future for Joytheesan is a political solution for the ethnic conflict. But who will deliver that?

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