If this A4 route could talk
What happened on October 8, this year at Kanchanakudah, a small village on the A4 between Pottuvil and Batticaloa tells all

By Lt. Col. A.S. Amarasekara
The A 4 route from Colombo to Batticaloa stretching a distance of 426 kilometres is the longest A class route in this country. Some of the less known archaeological sites such as the Magulmahaviharaya and the Mudumahaviharaya are situated a few kilometres away from this route. There is a school of thought that Viharamahadevi disembarked from her ship not at Kirinda but at Arugambay.

It is a little known fact that Pottuvil has originated from its former Sinhalese name Bodhivilla. It is at the village to the north of Pottuvil that the soldiers of King Kavantissa asked the villagers where the ship with the princess had been sighted.They asked the question "Ko Kumari?" The villagers pointed to the south and said, "Ara gamay". The village in which the question "Ko Kumari" was asked was later named Komari and the "Ara Gamay" where she had landed was later identified as Arugambay.

It was at Arugambay that the Mudumahaviharaya was discovered in 1972. In the ruined shrine room of the ancient temple is a stone statue of a standing Buddha. On either side of this stone Buddha statue are two stone statues of the king and queen in worship. In the beach not far from the ancient temple are several stone pillars where the pier of the ancient harbour may have existed. The Magulmahaviharaya approximately 10 kilometres from this point is believed to be where King Kavantissa married Queen Vihara Mahadevi. A Bodhi tree had been subsequently planted where the Poruwa was constructed. Although the tree is dead, the ruined wall of the Bodhiprakaaraya is still visible.

The numerous man-made reservoirs or tanks now mostly in ruins in the Ampara and Batticaloa districts are a testimony to the highly advanced form of civilization that existed in this area which the archaeologists refer to as the Magama Ancient Sinhala Buddhist hydraulic civilization. The ancient temples now mostly in ruins are little known . There are forty-two identified archaeological sites in the Ampara district and 21 in the Batticaloa district, most of them being ancient Buddhist temples. Some of the ancient Buddhist temples not far from the two previously mentioned that are accessible to a traveller on the A4 route are Tharalengala, Lahugala, Kotavehera, Shasthirivila, Kudumbigala, Atagala, Nilagiriseya, Jayarampola, Ettama, Kirimati Aru, Rangama, Moranwatta, Kiramale, Sangamankanda and Kanchikudichchi Aru.

The Magama Sinhala Buddhist hydraulic civilization may have commenced when Rohana, one of King Vijaya's comrades decided to settle in the deep south.

The Mahavamsa records that King Mutasiva (307-247 B.C) had several sons, Devanampiyatissa, Uttiya, Mahanaga, Mahasiva, Suratissa and Asela. The country at this point of time had three kingdoms, that of Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya together referred to as the Thun Sinhela.

The capital of Thun Sinhela was Anuradhapura that was situated in the Pihiti Rata, which was better known as the Raja Rata as the reigning sovereign was resident in that part of the country. King Mutasiva was succeeded by Devanampiyatissa, Uttiya, Mahasiva, Suratissa and Asela at Anuradhapura while Mahanaga the third son of King Mutasiva reigned as king of Ruhunu Rata with his capital at Magama. Yatthalayakatissa, Gothabhaya and Kavantissa followed him.

While the Raja Rata hydraulic civilization was experiencing its first two Tamil invasions from India, the hydraulic civilization in the Ruhunu Rata was developing sans any such problems. The first such Tamil invasion in Raja Rata was during the region of King Suratissa (187 to 177 B.C). He was defeated in battle by two Tamil usurpers Sena and Guttika, who subsequently ruled the Raja Rata for twenty -two years (177-155 B.C). Asela, the younger brother of Suratissa defeated Sena and Guttika in battle and regained the throne for ten years (155-145 B.C) but was subsequently defeated by the next Tamil usurper Elara. Elara reigned at Raja Rata for forty-four years (145 to 101 B.C). At this point of time Ruhunu, Pihiti and Maya were three separate Kingdoms, which were ruled by Kavantissa, Elara and Kelanitissa respectively. Viharamahadevi was the daughter of Kelanitissa. It was Dutugamunu the son of King Kavantissa and Viharamahadevi who defeated Elara and reunited the three Kingdoms of Sinhela in 101 B.C.

These are a few historical facts regarding our nation known to many but only a few know the truth regarding what happened on October 8, 2002 at Kanchanakudah, a small village on the A4 route between Pottuvil and Batticaloa. LTTE terrorists are making every effort to permanently link the northern province with the eastern province to form their proposed separate state of Eelam. With only a twenty nine percent Tamil population in the eastern province, the LTTE has to dominate certain strategic areas in this province if they are to subjugate the seventy one percent Sinhalese and Muslim population. One such area they require to dominate is the thick jungle terrain not far form Kanchikudichchi Aru and Rufuskulum where a well-fortified base is presently under construction after the signing of the MOU. It was in this jungle area that the six hundred and forty policemen who surrendered to the LTTE were brutally shot dead in June 1990. The approach road to this area commences from the A 4 route at Kanchanakudah.

At this road junction in Kanchanakudah is STF camp that had made it difficult if not impossible for the LTTE to build up its strength in the jungle base without fear of STF attack prior to the MOU. This STF camp dominated the main approach road to the Kanchikudichchi Aru, Rufuskulum area and with its presence it is extremely difficult to smuggle weapons to the jungle base in the interior. However, some arms shipments were offloaded on the beach at the Sangamankanda point and smuggled to the jungle base with great difficulty bypassing the STF camp after the MOU was signed. For further logistic movement to improve and develop this jungle base, it became imperative that the STF camp be removed from its strategic location. A suitable incident like what was organized at Point Pedro with much success where a Brigade headquarters of the army was attacked using civilians and schoolchildren, was the modus operandi decided by the LTTE.

The Tamil villagers in and around Kanchanakudah were able to live in peace prior to the MOU. They had a very good relationship with the STF that was providing them wiht the much needed security from the terrorists. The LTTE became active in these villages only after the MOU was signed and commenced not only to demand food for their cardres and to levy taxes but also to forcibly recruit children. The villagers in this area now live in fright, terrorized by the LTTE that operates from their jungle base as a political organization, thanks to the provisions in the MOU.

The LTTE was well aware that the STF occasionally hired tractors from the civilians for their transport requirements. They therefore waited for such an occasion and terrorized the civilians who were hiring these tractors not to oblige. There was an exchange of words in this connection between the STF personnel and the civilians, in the presence of some LTTE members. Soon after this incident one LTTE member made a complaint at the Tirukkovil STF camp saying that STF personnel stationed at Kanchanakudah had assaulted him. He was examined by a doctor at the Tirukkovil hospital who refused to admit him to the hospital, as there were no indications of assault. The mob of LTTE supporters who had arrived with the complainant then set fire to a tyre on the road near the Tirukkovil STF camp in protest and dispersed.

In the meantime, hundreds of civilians instigated and even forcibly rounded up at gunpoint by LTTE members had surrounded the Kanchanakudah STF camp. The LTTE members among them had commenced to abuse the STF personnel in filth. They carried stones to the location, broke through the outer perimeter fence and first began filling the drinking water well that was supplying water to the camp and also damaged the water pump. They next stoned the shrine room at the entrance to the camp and destroyed the Buddha statue in it. They then began to pelt stones at all the buildings within the camp. Finally, they instigated the mob to rush through the main entrance into the inner compound. The STF personnel were compelled to first fire tear gas followed by rubber bullets to prevent the mob from storming the area in which the STF had taken up position to safeguard the armoury. When this too failed the STF personnel commenced firing live rounds selecting the ring leaders.

It was when eight of them fell dead that the mob took to their heels. Four of them fell dead within the inner perimeter fence of which two were identified as LTTE leaders. One of them had been arrested and sent to the Kalutara deterntion camp but thereafter had been released recently due to lack of evidence.

There were four others who fell dead outside the camp while retreating. The injured were admitted to the Tirrukkovil hospital and one succumbed to his injuries while thirteen got themselves forcibly discharged that very night as they were active members of the LTTE and were worried that their identity would be exposed. The villagers in and around Kanchanakudah are today silently protesting against the actions of the LTTE that used them as human shields for the attack on the STF camp.

The media failed to enlighten the masses on the true facts of this incident. They are trying to appease a government which is not unlike the British Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Neville Champberlain that was bending backwards to please the Germans under the leadership of Hitler. Like the MOU that the government has signed with the LTTE in December 2001, the British government signed the Munich Agreement with the Germans in September 1938. On his return to England, Chamberlain said, "This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honour, I believe it is peace in our time."Winston Churchill, however, disagreed with him at the House of Commons and said, "We have sustained a total unmitigated defeat." He had to pause, until the protest against such a remark had subsided. Like Winston Churchill then, the few who still protest are today referred to as warmongers. Be that as it may, it is also saddening to see the majority in this country living in a fool's paradise. They like the masses of Britain in September 1938 believe that peace has come for all time.

They even believe in the possibility of a tiger changing its stripes. Though many were those Sinhalese who visited Jaffna and Trincomalee on pleasure jaunts after this incident on October 8 not one of them made an effort to visit these brave men of the STF, who defended the Kanchankudah camp so valiantly. These Sinhalese who go on such pleasure jaunts, praise the government for ushering in peace that has enabled them to enjoy life. Have they not got their priorities wrong?

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