Fishermen's beach frolic earns 'punk' hair-cut

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 March 1999, 22:03 GMT]
Fifteen fisherman were carousing on the Panichchangkerni beach last Wednesday night after a hard day's work, pulling in the seine nets and sorting the meagre catch. Panichchangkerni is a Tamil hamlet 53 kilometers north of Batticaloa, picturesquely located between the a lagoon and the sea coast.

The Sri Lankan Army (SLA) which is camped by the causeway across the Panichchangkerni lagoon was meanwhile informed by an informant in the village that the Liberation Tigers were on the beach, preparing for an attack.

A well armed SLA group set out immediately from the camp towards the sea shore; and there, upon seeing the light from the shack where the fishermen were making merry with arrack, the soldiers inched their way towards it, their guns cocked ready, expecting a fierce fire fight with the Liberation Tigers.

When the troops found they had been misled, they had a brief, friendly chat with the inebriated fishermen and started on their way back to the camp.

While the soldiers were still within earshot, one of the braver souls in the shack, his courage inflamed to audacity by the coconut spirit, began hurling the grossest insults in his repertoire at the troops.

The officer who had led the soldiers to the beach heard and understood the fisherman's affronts. The troops walked back to the hut and demanded to know who among the fishermen had shouted insults at them. When it became apparent that the fishermen could not be threatened or coerced into telling the truth, the soldiers severely assaulted everyone in the shack and ordered their inebriated victims to report to the camp next day.

On Thursday March 4, the fifteen fishermen, fearing further calamities, went to the Panichchangerni SLA detachment.

They were once more asked to give up the one among them who had hurled the insults at the troops, which they again declined to do.

Thereupon the officer in charge of the camp ordered that the fishermen's heads be shaved, leaving a round patch of hair on top. The barbering was carried out on the spot; the fifteen fishermen were then direly warned and asked to go home with their punk shave.


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