Jaffna library opening put off as Mayor, councilors resign

[TamilNet, Thursday, 13 February 2003, 21:25 GMT]
All twenty one members of the Jaffna Municipal Council led by Mayor Mr.Sellan Kandian Thursday tendered their resignation in protest to the pressure exerted on them by some organizations to put off the opening of the renovated Jaffna public library scheduled to be held on February 14, Friday, sources said.

Tension mounted in the Jaffna town as the Mayor Mr.Sellan Kandian who vowed to go ahead with the scheduled opening of the renovated Jaffna public library on Friday was diffused with the resignation of all municipal councilors including the Mayor. MC sources said the opening of the Jaffna public library would not be held on Friday as announced by the Mayor.

Mayor Mr.Sellan Kandian was insisting that the library should be opened before the municipal council completes its tenure of office on February 17, sources said.

International Tamil Students Union and the consortium of public organizations requested the Mayor to put off the opening of the public library for a latter date as the construction work was yet to be completed.

The organisations estimated that only 25% of the construction work has been completed.

But according to the Mayor, 99 percent of the reconstruction of the Jaffna public library had been completed and the Jaffna MC too had unanimously decided to open the library on Friday 14.

In 1999, Rs 120 million was allocated for the reconstruction of the library by the government. The work of reconstruction was first given to an Indian firm. But, due to some malpractices, the work was later handed over to the government buildings department.

The Jaffna public library was burnt down in 1981 by the Sri Lankan Police and Sinhala thugs on the eve of the district development council elections. The library, considered as one of the finest in South Asia containing a cultural heritage that comprised around 97,000 priceless books and about 150 centuries' old irreplaceable Tamil manuscripts, lost its entire collection when the original two storied building was destroyed.

Widely regarded by the Tamil community as an act of cultural vandalism, the destruction of Jaffna library by the predominantly Sinhalese police has long been a point of resentment.

 

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