The Buddhist Monk at the 96 th Mile Post on the Habarana Trincomalee Road: LTTE massacres & Economic Emancipation- the need of the hour
Posted on January 20th, 2014

Garvin Karunaratne, Former Government Agent, Matara District

On my visit to Trincomalee in December 2013 I was privy to a monk settling a family dispute. My mission was to hand over a parcel of dry rations to deserving temples and in that process I marched into a temple at Mollipotana near Mavil Aru, at the 96 th mile post on the Habarana Trincomalee Road. I was greeted by a Bo Tree  decorated with Buddhist flags but there was  no one around. I walked into the residence of the monks- all empty rooms with a scattering of furniture. It looked desolate rooms, deserted by the  monks. As I walked in further with a certain amount of trepidation, I heard a stern voice and listened. Someone was  admonishing another person   not to neglect his aged parents who had brought him up from birth because he had found solace in love. His voice was very firm, but polite and repetitive. He believed in consensus- talking and arguing  till every one was convinced. The 160  Sinhala families near the temple looked up to the monk for advice and justice when there was any problem. They believed in the monk more than in the Police and the Judiciary. Later, I was  told of a husband that had gone on the rampage assaulting the wife and children who was admonished by the monk and ultimately punished by having to work a day clearing the temple land.

The Sinhala families  around the temple  sought the assistance of the monk in anything and everything. It was a wevai, dagabai, pansalai, the trio I had seen at work all over Nuwara Kalaviya, my home in the Sixties when I worked for the peasantry  in the Agrarian Services Department. Then there was more amity among the people. Even the Leftist elements were held in check as detailed in my novel, Vidanege Diyaniya (Godages) That was four decades or more ago. Now the rural hinterland is the home for the evangelical activities- an endless number of them who offer sweeteners to the poor with the idea of converting them- a sewing machine or something as an offer of help. That evangelical inroad has ruined the amity that once reigned in the rural areas. Let that not happen; not yet here in Mollipotana . The evangelical missions come in posing as investors and developers courted by us for bringing in some foreign exchange and the social fabric is shattered for good.

This was the Sri Aggabodhi Vihare and the monk, Dhammasena Thero from Kegalla. He was the only survivor of a machine gun attack on the monks where six monks were gunned down. Then I understood why the rooms were empty. That was the LTTE at work, the killing machine-something that many people have forgotten today. His legs are swollen with the shrapnel that were lodged in his legs. shrapnel that were not taken out for which he spends Rs 7000 every month for medicines.  That massacre happened on 27th March 1992. In this attack  24 Sinhalese civilians were also killed. This incident is not reported and not included in the lists of LTTE massacres compiled so far.

The monk narrated  endless incidents of atrocities by the LTTE on the village.  It is on record that  on   July 9 th 1986 the LTTE stormed the village of Mollipotana with machetes, swords and clubs. The “LTTE killed 16 civilians, largely women and children”(srilanka watch.com) According to another report, :” “the children were clubbed to death while the parents were hacked to death”(Defence.lk)  This was in the days of the Arantalawa massacre.

Those days the Government was so frightened of the LTTE that it always reported less casualties. We were enticing the LTTE to come forward for peace talks. In the Attack at Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura on May 14,1985 the Government reported 146 nuns, women and children dead(Wikipedia). When I spoke with the Assistant Superintendent of Police in charge of Anuradhapura that day he said that over 500 were killed.  Then the Government played down the atrocities of the LTTE.

Back to Mollipotana, I am told that the Sinhala families have hardly any income and they cannot provide  any money to provide for the upkeep of the temple. It is passers by that provide. The earlier day the monk had received  two corn of the cob as alms for lunch and the monk had offered one for Buddha Puja and he lived on the other.

There is ample scope for the Economic Development Ministry if they can send their officers in to guide the people to generate more incomes.. They should, before the Evangelists come in and take charge by offering sweeteners. Rural poverty has to be sorted out not in the North where the people  took the plums and voted with their feet. The Siridharans and Sambanthans were liberated by no other than President Rajapaksa. Before that they walked like zombies with a pistol aimed at their head! The Sambanthans  have forgotten how Duraiappa and Tambimuttu and others were gunned down in cold blood the latter at the entrance to the Hilton in our capital Colombo in broad daylight.. Now the Sambanthans have turned against the liberator!

We must not forget the suffering that the border villages went through. When I met the Controller of Imports in 1996, Tennekoon he said that three of his uncles in Kebitigollewa were gunned down by the LTTE. They were Sinhala village leaders.

This story of Mollipotana is sad because the people have low incomes. They once braved the LTTE and deserve better and they will never never vote with their feet  ever.

May I suggest that a Cannery be opened in the Mollipotana/Mavil Aru area and that people should be requested to plant Red Pumpkin, Ash Pumpkin, Melon as a chena crop for an immediate income. In each village, three sections  of land have to be identified as chena land. Farmers should be given blocks in each section. One section can be cultivated while the other two areas are allowed to be fallow. The people should also plant tomatoes as an immediate crop(to be processed to tomatoe sauce and plant mangoes that will give a crop in five years’ time for processing to juice. Immediate  action has to be taken to train lassies in handloom weaving and the Department  of Small Industries has to import yarn and sell at cheap rates as they once did. Sri Lanka is today the place where handloom textiles from India are marketed. Powerlooms should also be established as cooperatives as we did in the Sixties and Seventies. Alongside when this handloom cum powerloom programme is activated the import of all handloom textiles has to be stopped.  These are all import substitution programmes and bring in the cumulative benefits of savings on foreign exchange, creation of rural employment and increasing the incomes of the rural folk.  A Cooperative has to attend to sales. This was the Plan we worked   which ushered self sufficiency in all jam, juice and textiles till it was abolished at the instance of the IMF by the UNP in  power in 1978.

For  all this to succeed, it would be ideal for action should be led by  a group of village leaders in an institution, elected by the people, preferably  through a consensus process with the guidance of the monk  Dhammasena Thero. My mind goes back to my days in Anuradhapura in the Sixties when as Assistant Commissioner I established 296 cultivation committees under the Paddy Lands Act. By Law I had to hold free elections with a ballot box, but I had seen the ill effects of this type of election in the earlier Districts I worked in, like Kegalla,  because the village gets bifurcated into two polarized groups on political lines and the opposition is engineered by the big wigs of the political parties who live in AC luxury, nowhere near the village and they manipulate their followers in the village to fight it out. The cultivation committee builds a sluice gate only to be broken down at night by the opposition. The village folk are the loser. There was no end to my inspections caused by internal clashes. I decided that all cultivation committees should be elected by consensus.  I had ten Divisional Officers, able  and  good orators and they managed to elect around 290 committees by consensus. They failed in a few and I took charge with a discussional oration lasting a few hours some times three hours where all the people together are convinced by me of the necessity to work together. This paid bountiful dividends when the cultivation committees got down to work as the people worked together in amity. It is through my experience that I suggest consensus as the method of electing a committee of village leaders who will manage village development. All this has to be directed and coordinated by the Government Agents and their Divisional Secretaries.

No new funds are required for this. It is a new strategy to be used by existing officialdom and a mechanism of working together. The foreign funds required to buy a Cannery and such machines can easily be recouped with half an years’ foreign exchange that is now been eaten up to import fruit juice, jam and Indian handlooms. I will personally  work out the economics of this scheme  if this idea is ever taken up by any Government authority. I will also guide and guarantee its success. My standing of having established a Mechanised Boatyard and Coop Crayon in Matara all done within three months in 1971-73, both fully commercially viable when I served as the Government Agent at Matara as well as my foray into self employment in Bangladesh where I designed and established the Youth Self Employment Programme that has by 2011 guided as much as 2 million youths to be employed enables me to speak out. It is of interest to note that even the  ILO had failed to establish a self employment programme in Tangail Bangladesh in the three years before my programme was established. They tried and failed miserably. My programme is today the most successful and largest programme of employment creation the world has known.  Dr Koshi Mathai, and such other economists who opine that import substitution schemes will be a failure are talking nonsense because they have never never established a single industry on their own. It will be sad if we continue to listen to these text book economists who are guided by the IMF. Please read my book; How  the IMF Ruined Sri Lanka… (Godages)for further details of how our development was hijacked by the IMF.

The monk  is jubilant in that the country was saved from the terrorist that went on the rampage. He is full of praise for that deed and our President deserves that accolade for having achieved  the impossible. Now the monk Dhammasena Thero , the Sinhala families at Mollipotana as well as the entire nation look to the President to find for them  economic emancipation- sufficient incomes to cover living expenses.

The present Government is requested to look at incomes of the people in relation to essential survival expenses as opposed to growth rates as a yardstick for economic development.

 The people live on the water of the Kuda Galmetiyawa Weva. That too has little water as the rains failed. On my visit to Anuradhapura and Tincomalee every tank that I saw was silted up and carry little water. They are filled with one down pour of rain. Earlier the tanks were deep. In nostalgia I recalled how I had tried to rebuild tanks in Nuwara Kalaviya in the Sixties of the Paddy Lands Act when the cultivation committees took charge. I could build only a half a dozen tanks, out of thousands. It would augur well for the Army to be utilized to develop these tanks, the lifeblood of the rural peasantry. The tanks in the Dry Zone heralded development in times of the Sinhala kings and the restoration of these tanks will breathe life to the rural families. The rock inscriptions of King Nissanka Mall speaks of three crops a year. Today we can be certain of one crop, double cropping is rare and triple cropping  does not exist. That is how far we have gone in civilization!. We have to develop our agriculture to the wonder of the triple cropping of the Thirteenth Century.

There should also be rural industries for the people to draw incomes in the lean season. If there is anyone in the world that can achieve this task it is no other than President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Let us all look forward to the future. It  is not only the monk at Mollipotana at the 96 th Mile Post on the Habarana Trinco roard, but the entire population of the Third World that seeks economic liberation from President Rajapaksa as now his highness is the President of the Commonwealth.

I do not know how far my words will travel, but at least I am happy I found a deserving temple to visit again and a monk whom I would like to venerate. My never ending visits to Anuradhapura will henceforth include a visit to Mollipotana. (The monk’s phone number is 0722610270)

Garvin Karunaratne,
Former Government Agent, Matara District
20 th January 2014

18 Responses to “The Buddhist Monk at the 96 th Mile Post on the Habarana Trincomalee Road: LTTE massacres & Economic Emancipation- the need of the hour”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Only Tamilians and Arabs in the East get economic benefits. Sinhalese have been neglected by this govt.

    Another Gamini D govt.?

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Who are the enemies of SL?

    MOSTLY Tamil civilians!! Here is another.

    “Full text of the letter signed by Ms. Ananthy Sasitharan, on behalf of the Disappearance Commissions in the North and East, follows:

    Seeking UN monitored international independent inquiry into forced disappearances and abductions
    We the committees of the disappearance from the North and East, write to you as representatives of the collective body, that still seek justice. We do not trust any mechanism created locally which in the past has not delivered justice to the survivors.

    We would like to register with Your Excellency our distrust of any local mechanism that investigates forced disappearances and abductions. We have seen at least four official truth seeking commissions that failed the survivors; some of them did not even release to the public their official findings.”

    – tamilnet

    A stitch in time could have saved this!! Our options are VERY LIMITED. If we DON’T use those options we are in serious trouble. MR’s stupidity is coming to bite him HARD this time in Geneva.

    As an ELECTED NPC member she is telling UNHRC that Tamils have NO TRUST in the govt. census!!

    And what is your guess which one the UNHRC will believe? Govt. census or this dirt’s letter? I think the latter!

    At least now GET RID OF 13 amendment. Or die with it!

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To quote the article “The evangelical missions come in posing as investors and developers courted by us for bringing in some foreign exchange and the social fabric is shattered for good.” The article continues on the economic problems facing the nation.

    One suggestion that has been done in other nations is the sale of water. Taking into account that Sri Lanka does experience drought or shortage of water in some areas of the nation, overall her sixteen major rivers and numerous lesser rivers spill precious drinking water into the ocean while India suffers from an extreme need for water. This would be a large project to develop the infrastructure to collect and pipe the water to India but it is a natural resource that is often not recognized.

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Second comment:
    Here in the US bottled water is the norm. Sri Lanka can take this route of bottling drinking water and sell that to nations severely lacking in this resource. The market is enormous for it can extend into the Middle East, India and China.

  5. Ratanapala Says:

    It looks like Mahinda Chintanaya is only for the Tamils and Muslims in the North and East primarily and then for the Colombians! The people who underwent untold miseries living in the so called “border villages” and in general the Sinhala Buddhists who gave their life and limb to win the Tamil Tiger Racist war have been conveniently forgotten. These people continue to suffer with no end in sight for their woes.

    On top of all these the Christian NGO vultures come to destroy and desecrate any semblance of patriotic identity that is left in these heroic peoples.

    There is nobody to look after these innocent Buddhists. What can be expected when the Minister for Buddhist Affairs, the walking mummy – the Prime Minister himself is involved in smuggling heroin to the country.

  6. Ratanapala Says:

    Sri Lanka should declare nominally all highland above the certain altitude say 5000 ft above sea level as montane forest and then harvest and bottle the pristine water from these sources. Litre per litre bottled water is more expensive than even petrol in most countries. This will be a sure fire money spinner for Sri Lanka as fresh water will be a rarer commodity than oil or gas in the near future.

    I am not surprised if it is even more economical than Tea plantations and a thousand times more eco-friendly!

  7. stanley perera Says:

    Sri Lanka is the land for Sri Lankan people. Racist Tamils do not want to belong to Sri Lanka. The President of the country is elected by the majority Sinhala Buddhists. If the president neglect the people who elected him where would they turn to? Surely some moderate Tamils and Muslims to supported. But their numbers are not significant. Atleast 90% of the Tamils in the North are against Sinhala buddhists and the Sinhala buddhists elected government. They are all anti Sinhala and Anti Sri Lankan Government. Therefore the President must realise that this country is owned by the Sri Lankans and not by the President of Sri Lanka. If the President of Sri Lanka is bending the rule to please the racist Tamils the President is betraying the majority Sri Lankans who love their country. The President reduced the army from 60,000 to 12000 in the North. The majority Sri Lankans want the army in the south e brought down to zero.The president does not own this country to act as a dictator.

  8. Ratanapala Says:

    Recent actions by the President suggests that he is only interested in covering his back side! In this enterprise he is neglecting those who saved the nation!

  9. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    GARVINS ” Import Substitution ” concept has to be taken very seriously, by the President and particularly the Minister of Agriculture. This is the basis on which Economic Development should be structured on. Mollycodling the Tamils who vote with their feet is not an option for development. It is a disaster to the Sinhalese Buddhist Nation of Sri Lanka.

    The Law of the Land has to be put into effect at once, to stop Sri Lankan Traitors from complaining to Foreigners, who go sniffing the White Skin. What was the necessity to bring a white skin to train our Cricketers, when our Cricketers are WORLD CLASS. It is the Inferiority Complex of the mind set that be. SHAME.

    Religious conversions of the poor villagers has to be stopped forthwith. It is the Prime Ministers prime function. Yet he has no time, being seriously involved in the import of Heroin.

    As Ratnapala says, Water can be a lucrative export, if properly planned.

    I personally feel that Garvin should lobby to see the President personally, and present his infrastructure ideas, in writing as presented here. May the Blessings of the Noble Triple Gem help in bringing about a quick meeting with the President.

    The reason I say that Garvin should lobby, is because none of the Ministers and MPs would be reading these articles, simply because they have no time for it. They are heavily involved in collecting filthy lucre.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    The best thing patriotic SLs can do is to give guns to Ravana Balaya. IF RB is truly patriotic it MUST source guns and use them WISELY against Damn-ill racist hate spewing satanic serpents hell bent on destroying SL.

    Frontline Tamil racists in SL are VERY FEW. ALL of them can be erased within a DAY at a cost of $50.

  11. NAK Says:

    Mr.Karunaratne should forward a proposal to Mr.Basil Rajapakse , Minister of Economic development. I’m sure he will be very interested.

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Tamils suffer due to their stupid politicians’ acts for the last 80 years. Not only the Tamils, country as a whole suffered terribly. If the problem is poverty, it is not only a Tamil problem, it is the same problem for every Sri Lankans. When Tamil politicians talk about their people’s grievances, they are under the impression that all Sinhalese are rich and only the Tamils are poor. I don’t understand how political settlement will help poor Tamils?

    When asked about Tamils’ problems and grievances in North they say Tamils getting letters from Government institutions in Sinhala and that’s why they need a political settlement. Another said when they go to police station or a court the officer’s talking in Sinhala. These are administration problems.

    Some Tamil politicians said they want administration powers to rule their areas,such as collecting taxes,getting foreign aid directly etc. Alright now they run their local governments and they now can serve their people. They can request diaspora to send money directly to TNA control local government accounts. I don’t think the government wants to ban such a donations.

    Now the population is roughly less than half a million in the North and about 40% of the land belongs to the government, how reasonable to ask with land and police powers for Northern Provincial Council? And in the East where population of three ethnic groups almost equal, is it reasonable Tamil politicians request to annexe East to North?

    This is all conspiracy of TNA,Tamil Diaspora and Politicians of Tamil Nadu. They now need Provincial councils with police and land powers, with the intention of create Tamil Eelam one day. Their dream of Tamil Eelam, fade away after brave soldiers saved 300,000 Tamils from LTTE’s clutches and crushed LTTE after 30 years of LTTE’s fruitless cruel war. Anyhow Tamil politicians still need to revive the struggle for Tamil Eelam to win their elections. The demand for Provincial Councils with police and land powers is the first step towards it.

    Except the North & East, Tamils speak, read and write Sinhala and accept Sinhalese as the majority ruling community. But in North, it’s different, not only they are majority but with 60 million Tamils 30 km away, they feel they are the majority.

  13. helaya Says:

    Here is what should be done. Stop spending billions on gentrification Colombo and other urban area. Restore the village level administrations and take care of these poor people before evangelical bastards intrude these area.

  14. SA Kumar Says:

    Frontline Tamil racists in SL are VERY FEW. ALL of them can be erased within a DAY at a cost of $50.
    Why do not you do it for us ??? I give you $100 , please let me know you bank details to transfer !!!

    My Tamil Brother !
    What ever your usuppeththal won’t work for Chinhalavan , it worked last 33 years for Tamil ( Nallai pirakkum TE)!!!

  15. Sunil Mahattaya Says:

    A beautifully composed analysis with pin point accuracy relating to many perspectives of the rural areas of the Sinhala Nation that need to be restored to their original status from the seeing eye of a former Government Agent and ACAS whose vision portrays his involvement towards uplifting the Nation and elevates his capacity to one of genius with a latent sympathy and patriotic zeal for his Motherland so devastated by Tamil Tiger attrocities and the occassional threat of proselytism from aspiring flybynight evangelists who are far removed from real Christianity and for whom marketing their fare is tantamount to the religiom they preach.
    This needs to be broadcast in a manner that will reach the hierarchy.

  16. Lorenzo Says:

    Please read the American demands – remove all army presence from the north and USA will DROP Geneva resolutions against SL. Their plan is to REVIVE THE LTTE.

    This is a GRAVE THREAT to SL. TOUGH action must be taken now before it is too late.

  17. Nanda Says:

    To hell with “diplomacy” SL should act now urgently to bring the troops numbers to at least 10% of Tamils in Tamil captured areas.
    Put Dumida Silva in remand.
    Arrest Appu Joe.
    Arrest Ananthi.
    Then fight US at Geneva without Sam-Mara-Singh- we can win this time.

  18. Nanda Says:

    “Except the North & East, Tamils speak, read and write Sinhala and accept Sinhalese as the majority ruling community. But in North, it’s different, not only they are majority but with 60 million Tamils 30 km away, they feel they are the majority.”
    60 million Tamil speaking people are not TAMILS.
    Tamil is a language only.
    “Tamils” as they call themselves in Sri Lanka, came from various areas of Endia , Nadu Tamil speakers limited to up country areas, imported by British to produce “poison”.

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