Immediately after the infamous Vadamaradchy operation, I was one of those summoned by the Sri Lanka army to attend a public meeting at Vada Hindu Girls College. While the meeting was going on, the Rupavahini crew, that was covering the event, almost coerced me to face an interview. When they asked me for my opinion about the military operation I felt like saying ‘I don’t know if this is the end of a beginning or the beginning of an end’ quoting Winston Churchill. But prompted by an intuition that discretion was the better part of valor I said a few acceptable words simply off my head! The following day the scene was relayed on the morning and evening TV. When at subsequent school seminars in Colombo and Jaffna many Principals recognized me without any introduction I just couldn’t gauge whether Rupavahini had lent me popularity or notoriety!
Another day I wish to recall is when I went into the SL army camp sited in our hallowed college premises and indignantly protested to the army General against the arbitrary arrest of hundreds of our Hartleyites the previous day from the holy precincts of Puttalai MV and Pillayar temple. I appealed for their release as the arrest was an arbitrary one of the innocent pupils with a regular school attendance record. The appeal was upheld almost apologetically and all of them were released. The life and career of those students was saved in the nick of time. The gratitude that I reaped from them and their parents and the knowledge that all of them reached great heights in their career remain indelibly tattooed to my heart.
My associations with the IPKF covering three years were more exacting and eventful. During that period I was appointed as the head of the Point Pedro Cluster of thirteen schools by the Director of Education and as the President of the Puloly MPCS Union by the Jaffna Government Agent. These additional hats on my head considerably widened the area of my service and rendered my relations with the IPKF closer, onerous, inordinate and quite often life-threatening. I feel happy to recall that I was able to serve not only my college but also the entire community in Vadamaradchy during many an emergency and round-ups by easing the situation acting as a translator of the furious IPKF commanders at many public meetings by toning down their devastating and derogatory words against our militants into pleasing ones!
At this juncture I feel honour bound to say that though unfortunate circumstances soured their original ministerial mission into a ruthless military one the IPKF had a profound knowledge of our college and consequently a very healthy respect for her and for me. It was this that enabled me to engage their services in de-mining the area in and around our hoary premises, undertake a lot of rehabilitation work, redeem our alma mater from her refugee plight and install her back right royally in Her home.
As their camp stood cheek by jowl with our premises I could not help being in touch with them as I had to be in their good books to release our pupils or teachers who were often arrested in sudden round-ups. This policy was endorsed even by the militants when one dark night three of them armed to the teeth suddenly barged into my home and grilled me with several questions and cleared me out of their suspicion. The experience was eerie and it still rankles in my memory.
It was this delicate, if not diplomatic, policy of mine that enabled me to meet the IPKF and release several students, even one or two militants, above all, one of my best friends and a senior and versatile teacher of ours- N. Gunaseelan. He had been taken captive to the KKS camp but in response to my convincing representation that the college had been paralysed by his arrest the commander at the Manthikai camp relented. The extent of the confidence he had in me was such that the following day he sent a jeep to my home inviting me to come and take personal custody of Gunaseelan. Declining politely the transport I went on my bike thanked the commander profusely and took Guna, as we fondly call him, to his home. This stands as one of the proud moments in my life. I am happy that subsequently he became a Principal of Hartley and earned a great name.
Another unforgettable moment comes to mind. It occurred during the time when there was a massive search for the great Anton Balasingam. All vehicles on the road were stopped and searched. One day the CTB bus in which I was travelling was stopped at Manthikai and finding