Defying the strict instructions by the occupying Sri Lankan military, the people of Jaffna on Tuesday tolled temple bells amid military patrols at 6:07 p.m. in remembrance of heroes. SL soldiers were taken aback witnessing the resolve of the people and hearing the sound of temple bells coming from all directions. Heroes Day remembrance was peacefully and emotionally observed by all the sections of people in the peninsula and in Vanni who lit candles inside their homes. Meanwhile, SL soldiers who entered into the gents’ hostel of the University of Jaffna, where the Heroes Day Common Flame was lit last year, guarded every single room and climbed on to the terrace to prevent it this time. But the flame was lit at the second floor of the Ladies’ Hostel, sharply at 6.07 p.m.
After lighting the ceremonial Common Flame, the students also paid tribute to the heroes, inside the hostel.
Following this, the ladies’ hostel called Ananda Coomaraswamy Hall came under the attack of the Sinhala soldiers who entered the ladies’ hostel, smashed some of the windows and started attacking the inmates. The soldiers harassed students from Vanni.
The Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University dispatched a team consisting a dean, a senior lecturer and some officials to ensure the safety of female students at the hostel, following complaints from the girls that they were getting attacked.
Earlier, the SL military deployed in large numbers at the gents’ hostel called Balasingham Hall, rounded up and attacked the male students.
Students who manoeuvred away from the round up and attack lit the Common Flame at the Ananada Coomarasamy Hall.
E. Saravanapavan, a Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarian, narrowly escaped from the attack by SL soldiers when he attempted to reach the hostel at the request of the students who complained of assaults by Sinhala soldiers. The SL soldiers began to throw stones at his vehicle, causing damage.
A journalist from the Uthayan daily, who accompanied Mr Saravanapavan, was chased away by the SL soldiers. The SL soldiers attempted to snatch away his camera.
The parliamentarian who fled the scene has lodged a complaint at Jaffna Police station.
Earlier in the day, an SL military-operated squad in civil cloths had entered the premises of the university, pointing handguns at the students and threatening them to leave the premises. A large number of students were forced to flee from the University and hostel premises.
Later, SL Army soldiers were deployed inside the gents’ hostel, to guard almost every room and to climb on the top of the water tank where the Common Flame was lit last year.
Occupying Sri Lanka’s armed men were also posted around the office and the residences of the Tamil National Peoples Front (TNPF) politicians Mr Kajendren Selvarajah and Mr Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam.
Journalists in Jaffna also complained that they were being closely monitored by the SL military intelligence.