`Enna sinasenna? negenahiru dekaganna ?` goes the sweet melody repeated regularly over the state media that invite people to smile and come to view the liberated East! However, it is not smiles that would come to any one`s lips on seeing the conditions prevailing there, but tears to their eyes. The report this newspaper carried on Monday Under the heading ` `Liberation` and the human tragedy of the East` is sufficient proof that the hapless people in that area, far from being liberated and their normal life restored, they seem condemned to languish longer under trying conditions.
The people there have rightly refused, as our report says, to be interviewed or photographed saying that it would be another story for the newspaper but their condition would remain unchanged. This attitude demonstrates the depths of their frustration and hopelessness. One may recall that we in these columns commended the work done by the authorities to resettle some 95,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) following government reports on the matter. But our present report is clear about the pathetic condition of their existence, even their most essential and basic needs such as potable water denied to them.
Besides the miserable conditions they are reduced to having been deprived of their livelihood, children`s education and other essential requirements, the fear and insecurity they are condemned to contend with seem to have driven them into the depths of demoralization. Having been freed from the ferocity of Tiger claws, they have apparently been thrown into the jaws of another fearsome animal that has emerged in the form of the Karuna Faction. The cadres of this group are reported to be hovering around well armed and prying into their movements and activities. They are said to be indulging in the same dastardly acts that their antagonists, the LTTE had practised driving fear into the minds of these people. It is a pity that the fears of forced recruitment to their ranks and helplessness have driven parents to push their daughters into early marriage, some falling into that state at ages around 16 years.
Of course, Karuna`s party (TMVP) high-ups, like some of our southern politicians, vow their commitment to democracy. As our report says, TMVP education unit Chief P. Karunaharan has rejected the allegations against their party saying that those charges are hurled at them by some parties who are jealous of their popularity with the people. They claim that they are now winning the hearts and minds of the people. Although there are serious doubts about their ability or inclination to match their words with deeds, their declared commitment to democracy needs appreciation and encouragement. Their metamorphosis from violence and terrorism to decency and democracy cannot be quick and easy. The intervention of the authorities by way of determined action to enforce the rule of law, therefore, is necessary to hasten this transformation. Any attempt by the government to collude with or connive in the TMVP illegal acts will, on the contrary, make them persist in obstreperous ways.
The goings-on in the region thus make it clear that the much publicized `Eastern Resurgence` programme geared to developing the region has so far failed to make much progress. The move to restore civil administration by holding elections to local bodies, though commendable will have to await restoration of law and order at least to a tolerable degree. Elections obviously cannot be regarded as exercises in democracy unless they are free and fair. However impressive the armed groups` assurances are about allowing any political party to carry on with their political activities, they cannot be completely trusted to practically adhere to these declarations.
The urgent need at the moment, therefore, is attention to supplying the essential requirements of the people. As it has been proven in the past, the government alone cannot accomplish this task. The assistance from civil societies and national or international organisations that could be relied upon to do honest service should be obtained in this work. It is indeed for those parties and groups who were so concerned about liberating the East geographically to come forward now to liberate the people there who today are languishing in the depths of degradation.