The recent increase in violence and addiction to alcohol in the Northern Province has raised concerns regarding the future of the youth and the security of the general public.
Violence is not something new to the Northern Province it was at the receiving end of the 30-year-old war which killed and injured thousands of young blood until it ended in 2009.
With the end of the war however, the importance of ensuring that the youth do not resort to violence or pick up arms was identified by the government as well as civil society institutions that were active in the region after the end of the war.
It was therefore important that the minds of the youth were not allowed to idle. Improving facilities to further their education, providing vocational training and creating employment opportunities were some of the measures through which the authorities ensured that the youth did not waste their time idling.
It worked to a certain extent, especially in the recently affected Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu Districts.
Jaffna has a slightly different story. Even though it was affected by the final phase of the war, Jaffna was untouched by the conflict after 1995 when it was liberated during the regime of former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge.
The peninsula was cut off from the South until 2002 when the short-lived Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) was signed between the then United National Front (UNF) government and the LTTE. Jaffna was once again cut off from the South after the closure of the Muhamalai entry-exit point on August 11, 2006 due to increase in hostilities.
It remained closed until the war ended. But, it Jaffna was untouched by bombs and fighting. Therefore, the peninsula had somewhat settled down by the time the war ended. All it needed was a permanent link that would connect Jaffna to the rest of Sri Lanka, which eventually happened after 2009.
Even though the establishment of the link in broadened the avenues for the youth, the question arises whether some of them used them for their betterment.
For the past few years, law enforcement authorities have been battling with increasing incidents of violence, drug and alcohol abuse.
The peaceful environment had been marred by the emergence of small armed groups which consist of youth in their teen and twenties.
Security Forces Commander in Jaffna, Major General Mahesh Senanayake stated that these groups were responsible for many isolated incidents of violence, theft, kidnapping and several other small-time criminal activities.
“These groups have been terrorizing the people in the Jaffna peninsula,” he said.
He further raised concerns over the increase in alcohol addiction among the current younger generation.
He pointed out that many of these groups were involved in the drug racket. “There is this motorcycle culture where members of these gangs roam around the roads in cliques. Very often they carry liquor while travelling. In addition, they also bully and play pranks on innocent girls. This is not a healthy thing as far as the future of the peninsula is concerned,” he pointed out.
He added that the police and security forces had taken stringent measures to ensure that such activities do not hamper the day-to-day activities of the public in any manner.
Tackling the menace
It is not only the duty of the police and law enforcement authorities to tackle this menace, but of each individual.
Initiatives should come from family circles, which should later incorporate community heads and civil society representatives.
The emergence of groups and cliques is not a healthy sign especially in the North due to its violent history.
The Northern Province has been known to produce eminent personalities who have excelled in academic activities.
Today, the situation has changed where the youth are led in a different direction.