Over the past seven years, the Northern Province had seen a facelift in terms of infrastructure development and new businesses coming into the region thanks to the peaceful environment.
Areas such as Kilinochchi and Mullaithivu which faced the brunt of the war in its final stages are gradually getting back to shape. There were minor hiccups in the region, owing to threats and reports of regrouping of LTTE during which security was tightened.
However, despite those minor scares, the North had enjoyed a relative peace, until recently.
The controversial death of two university students in Kankesanthurai sparked anger, confusion and concerns among the people both here and abroad. The events that followed the incident, namely the attack on police personnel, had created further confusion in the peninsula.
These incidents come at a time when the country is going through a transition period. It has been seven years since the war came to an end. But the spillovers of the war are yet to be eliminated.
What triggered a massive reaction from the public of the North is the fact that this incident had taken place in Jaffna, and that the victims were two university students. These two factors are enough to make this incident a sensitive issue.
Even though there was an attack on the police personnel, the people, and the students opted to show their anger in a much calmer manner. The students indulged in a peaceful protest that blocked vehicular traffic along the A9 highways. The public then decided to show their anger by stopping all operations and shutting down the entire peninsula.
The government had assured to take swift measures to make sure that normalcy prevails in the region.
Tension in the North
Even though the death of these students had raised questions, pertaining to the security situation in the North, it should be noted that the situation was not so calm in the peninsula since of late. The emergence of armed groups and the increase in usage of drugs and alcohol had given way to several social issues.
The law enforcement authorities had raised concerns over the increasing number of armed groups or motorcycle gangs that had emerged over the past few months in the peninsula. Police said that these groups had indulged in several criminal activities including drug trafficking, theft and gang fights.
Several members of the ‘Aava’ group were arrested recently. The Police and the Special Task Force (STF) launched a crackdown during which several persons suspected have been involved with armed groups were taken into custody.
It is important for the government, the opposition and other politicians to ensure that the youth in the country, particularly in the peninsula, are not dragged into violence once again. Though peace had been established in the North, it is not difficult for the youth to resort to violence. The majority of these young men had lived during troubled times and are familiar with guns and bullets.
Even though these groups are known to carry knives and swords, the motive behind the actions are to create tension and fear. The job will not be complete once the culprits are nabbed. It would be complete only if these youngsters are reformed. The change should come from within.
The politicians too have a responsibility of ensuring that they do not use these incidents for their political advantage and mileage. The politicians, as representatives of the people, need to ensure that the people are protected and that violence is not encouraged.
Providing the youth with vocational training, and job opportunities is key. Such moves would help them to focus their minds and energy on increasing their productivity.
The end of the war has opened all doors for the youth. They are no longer restricted, nor are they controlled. They have their options right in front of them. However, it is up to them to choose the right door and the right path.