The aftermath of the death of two university students saw a series of unrest in the Northern Province. The past few weeks have seen a fluctuation in terms of normalcy in the Northern Province.
Though there were no major incidents after the death of the students, the instability that the incident had paved way for certain elements to come to the fore.
The Aava group had been creating news over the past few weeks. Though several members of the group had been arrested, the presence of gangs in the North continues to affect normalcy.
Another group that had made its presence felt during the recent times is the ‘Prabhakaran Force’. A leaflet was recently distributed in the Northern Province, allegedly by the group. The group had blamed the government for the current situation in the North pertaining to the increasing drug and alcohol menace. The group had given an ultimatum of 21 days to the Tamil speaking police officers to leave the province.
The police in the North came under the spotlight after the death of the two university students. Five police officers were arrested and interdicted over the incident. However, it did not merely stop there. Two police personnel in civils were brutally assaulted soon after the incident. The aava group claimed responsibility for the assault.
Police had later launched a crackdown on members of the group. Several were arrested. But, the tense situation created the appropriate platform for other groups and individuals to come out and create fear among the people.
However, the alarming factor here is that most people are not aware as to who is operating these gangs. Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council (NPC), CVK Sivagnanam said that it was still unclear as to who was backing these groups. “It is confusing because we do not know whether they are an actual group, or whether it is an individual who is trying to create some sort of uncertainty in the region,” he said.
The increase in drug and alcohol addiction too has given rise to such a situation.
Sivagnanam pointed out that there needed to be a change in thought process starting from school level. He said that the mentality of resorting to violence would ruin the future of the North and would create an unhealthy environment.
It is therefore important to ensure that civil society groups and politicians to focus on the immediate need. The issue that needs to be addressed immediately are these. Focusing more time on finding long term solutions for the ethnic issue is important. But right now, the issue at hand is the emergence of groups and gangs.
This might not seem to be a pressing issue at this point in time. But it should not be taken lightly. It should not be allowed to grow. When these groups grow and expand grows, they also bring in more hatred and tension.
War ended seven years ago. Even though the issue was not addressed, the silence of the guns created an environment for dialogue and logical thinking. Ignoring the emergence of these armed groups in the context of trying to reach a solution would in fact backfire.
Impact on development
The post-war environment provided the opportunity for the Northern Province to focus on infrastructure development. Even though the situation is not severe, it could have an impact on future investments and infrastructure development activities.
Providing the youth ample opportunities to further their education and career is important for them to choose the right path and to ensure peace. Providing vocational and educational training is of no use if they are left to fend for themselves.
It is also important that these youngsters do not misuse the freedom that had been provided after the end of the war.
These youngsters are those who define the future of this country. They should be the role models to the school children. It is easy to resort to violence. But not so easy to give up. It took Sri Lanka 30 years to realize this bitter truth.