The heart of the Tamils was destroyed I Mugilnila

Devils do not know the glory of books. This has not been the case since today or yesterday, but since the times before Christ, rulers have been more afraid of enlightenment than of warriors. For this reason, the creation of literary works dedicated to the conquerors or the violent falsification of their past history had been the decree of the bureaucracy.

If one examines the early world-historical texts, they boast of the colonialist overlords and their religious activities. Literatures of all nations are structured in this way. After the royal decree, only the history of the victors continues to rise, and the history of the losers unravels and fades into oblivion. There are two important aspects they undertake in war to win or distract a society. One is sexual violence against women of a particular community. The second is violating the knowledge that preserves their historical events.

In Sri Lanka, when the tyranny and oppression of power came from the Sinhalese to the Tamil areas, the Sinhalese, the Jaffna Public Library, began to see Tamil enlightenment and its importance in Asian countries. They insinuated that destroying the existence of the Tamils was a moral norm and they planned to cut off the branches of the Tamils altogether. On 1 June 1981, the Jaffna Public Library, in the heart of Jaffna, was burnt down near the police station.

Education – The Jaffna Public Library

Even before the arrival of the colonial powers, Sri Lanka did not have a properly structured education system. Then came the western powers one after the other, the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the English, but they too were mainly business-oriented and wanted to spread their beliefs. Besides, the schools and institutions they had set up to maintain the books they needed were generally not suitable for all sections of the population to use freely. For this reason, many initiatives were taken to promote the ‘Saivam’ faith and protect the culture and history. A small library (1926) was established by the Saivam community in Karainagar in 1915. Subsequently, the library was opened by Mr. K. M. Chellappa, the father of the Jaffna Library, who saw the need for a free library for all as an intellectual resource for the people of Jaffna. This later became the common property of Jaffna.

Many consultations, invitations for public discussion, fundraising, book collection, book donations, furniture, subscription methods, and building decisions have been made for it through the endless cooperation and efforts of the Tamil people. Initially, the library in the Malavarayar building was in operation on a small scale. The emergence of the Jaffna Municipal Council further empowered the public. In 1954, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of a separate building for the library to diversify the library service. 22,000 dollars was donated by the Asian Development Bank and 10,000 rupees by the Indian High Commission. Thanks to public donations and foreign aid, the building began to grow rapidly. The building was renamed the Jaffna Public Library on 17 October 1958 and opened on 11 October 1959. People were enthusiastic.

About 16,000 books were kept in the new library building. Many magazines were published in languages like Tamil and English. Many of the old books and transcripts were refined. In later years, many Tamil scholars and scientists voluntarily donated their books to the library. Students and teachers from all over the country used the library for their academic and study activities. In a short time, the enthusiastic participation of the people and the diligence of the scholars made the Jaffna Public Library public domain the largest knowledge base in South Asia.

The true face comes out

On 1 June 1981, around midnight… Suddenly the library of Jaffna, in the centre of the city, was in flames. Main Jaffna police station is about 500 metres from the library. Special police officers from southern Sri Lanka were in a building behind the library to monitor the Jaffna Development Council elections. The police had granted curfew to the public citing an already minor incident. Thus, no one could go outside without permission from the state or the police. In such a situation, the library was set on fire and none of the police officers did anything to put out the fire. Thus, it is actually self-evident who committed this sabotage.

The day before the Jaffna Library was burnt down, the “Poobalasingham Book Depot”, the “Macmillan Bookshop” and the “Eelam Nadu Press Office” were burnt down by the police and Sinhala leadership. All the places of knowledge were ruined. The chain of events finally came to an end at the Jaffna Public Library. Sinhala fanatics stormed into the library and started the fire. The fire engulfed the books and the entire library began to burn in flames. A large cloud of smoke surrounded the city centre. The police, not considering any of this, had fun. When the mayor of Jaffna heard the matter, he immediately sent his firemen to the library. However, the police intercepted them, cited an existing curfew and prevented them from getting there. The building, which was educationally covered, was now burnt.

Asia’s encyclopaedia was destroyed in one night. Many historical readings were destroyed. Furthermore, a great many old manuscripts were unfortunately burnt. More than ninety-seven thousand (97,000) books were destroyed in one night. The whole community had contributed to building the library. Even the Sinhalese from the south came here to borrow books or manuscripts. Anyone could come to the library, no one was disadvantaged or excluded. But because of the act of the Sinhalese, with the police also complicit, Asia has lost a great encyclopaedia. The linguist (33 languages), Dr Singarayar, died of a heart attack because he was shocked to see the burnt library that still contained all the treasures he had visited all day. The entire northern region was shocked to hear of this act of barbaric savagery by the Sinhalese.

The nation had been strangled with books for half a century of invaluable service. The country was set to destroy the knowledge of the Northern Tamils. The country that caused a violation of language rights through the Sinhala Act and the Education Act. The next step is to destroy the knowledge base. The government that has killed its own countrymen to hide history and prevent growth has been silent as usual.

Historical duty

The public library rose anew from the ashes that remained. Everything had to start all over again, and it did. Burnt historical manuscripts are irreversible. But people’s hope began to blossom. With the help of scholars and the citizens, hope became reality and the library was rebuilt. On the other hand, the face of the barbaric state administration in Sri Lanka was strongly criticised in the outside world. The new building, new projects, new books, everything was redone. But here too there were several problems, but the citizens were full of ambition to rebuild the library. Thus, the public library of Jaffna was renewed and became a centre of knowledge.

The barbarism of a state terror hides behind the successfully rebuilt library. An inhuman view of the Sinhalese and the government that the Tamils must never have a better standard of education. Moreover, the trigger for this atrocity was to destroy literature that can be used to prove that the land originally belonged to the Tamils so that the Sinhalese themselves could seize power. Furthermore, it is unbelievable that they think that with the newly built library, the gruesome past will be forgotten. Even today, many Sinhalese from the south come to see the library. However, it is not seen as an educational institution, but rather as an attraction. Sadly, it is even possible that our descendants will not know the old pains and scars of the Jaffna Public Library, with its rapid growth.

To the ghastly devils who destroyed our encyclopaedia, thereby destroying the Tamil people as well, we must prove it and pay them back. The only way is to reach unthinkable heights of life through education and thus advance our community.

Education is the highest good we can offer our children” – Cat Stevens

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