Garrison's fall angers village mob

[TamilNet, Thursday, 27 April 2000, 11:53 GMT]
Fifty youth from the east who were on a cultural program in the northwestern province sponsored by the Sri Lankan government's Youth Affairs Ministry to promote ethnic harmony were sent back to Batticaloa yesterday after being threatened in a Sinhala village by a mob angered by the fall of the Elephant Pass base.

A group of mostly Tamil boys and girls and a few Muslims from the Batticaloa and Ampara districts were taken to Kuliyapitiya on April 23 by the National Youth Services Council (NYSC) of the Ministry for Youth Affairs to take part in a program called 'North-South bridge'.

This program is organised regularly by the NYSC with a view to promote understanding between Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities.

Under this program, youth selected by the NYSC from Tamil and Muslims majority districts are hosted in Sinhala villages and towns by local families for a week, during which cultural events are held jointly by youth from the three ethnic communities.

The North-South Bridge program was inaugurated on April 24 in a village close to Kuliyapitiya in the Kurunagala district around 7.30 p.m. The Governor of the Northwestern province had also arrived in the village to meet the youth and attend the inauguration when a large mob armed with knives, sticks and cudgels had attempted to attack the Tamil youth.

Persons in the mob had shouted for revenge for the death of soldiers at the Elephant Pass base.

Sources said that the bodies of several troopers from the area who were killed when the Tigers overran the Elephant Pass base had arrived that day from the north.

The Policemen providing security for the Governor had stopped the mob from further attacking the Tamil youth. The boys and girls from the east were then taken to the temple of a Buddhist monk who was also taking part in the program from where they were transferred to the NYSC office in Kurunagala. The Tamil youth were sent to Batticaloa yesterday.


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