Govt.-LTTE tussle over reopening of Jaffna library

by Kesara Abeywardena

A tussle between the government and the LTTE is taking place on the reopening of the Jaffna Public Library which is scheduled for Friday.

Jaffna sources said that the LTTE had strongly objected to the reopening ceremony on Friday to be attended by several government ministers and had instructed the Municipal Commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council not to have the opening ceremony. The public library comes under the Jaffna Municipal Council which is controlled by the TULF.

However the government and the Jaffna Municipal Council are expected to go ahead with the opening of the Jaffna Public Library on Friday despite severe objections from the LTTE. Several front organisations of the LTTE had also openly objected to the reopening ceremony saying that the reconstruction work of the library building was not yet fully completed.

Jaffna Mayor S. Kandiah told "The Island" yesterday that the reconstructed Jaffna Library would be opened by TULF stalwart and Jaffna district MP V. Anandasangari on Friday as scheduled. He ruled out any objections to the opening ceremony and said that the reconstruction work of the building was almost finished.

Rehabilitation, Reconstruction and Refugees Minister Jayalath Jayawardena who was in Jaffna yesterday said there was no problem regarding the reopening of the library and it would take place as scheduled. He said that Power and Energy Minister and deputy leader of the UNP Karu Jayasuriya was also expected to attend the ceremony.

Jaffna Mayor S. Kandiah had already sent invitations to government ministers and other dignitaries for the ceremony. Jaffna sources said that the LTTE was not in favour of government ministers and other democratically elected representatives of the Tamils in Jaffna being in the limelight in the area.

Meanwhile Rehabilitation Ministry sources said that a meeting is expected to be held today in this regard to take a final decision on the issue. Earlier it was reported that the LTTE had objected to a move by the government to bring school children from the North to Colombo to participate in the Independence Day celebrations.

The Jaffna Public Library which was a central symbol of the North-East conflict was burned during the District Development Council elections in 1981. With the recapturing of Jaffna by the government troops the reconstruction of the library building also began. Over Rs.120 million had been allocated to the reconstruction of the massive building. The work so far had cost Rs. 98 million, reconstruction ministry sources said.