Re-naming of Colombo street cancelled
By P K Balachandran | ENS | Published: 03rd December 2012 11:17 AM |
The government of Sri Lanka’s Western Province had cancelled the re-naming of a street in Colombo as “Colombo Tamil Sangam Lane” on the suspicion that the Sangam is linked to the LTTE, says Mano Ganeshan, a Colombo-based Tamil leader.
The street in question is the 200-yard-long 57th Lane in Wellawatte, a largely Tamil-speaking area in South Colombo. The lane has been home to the 70-year-old Sangam, a nerve centre of Tamil literary activity in the Lankan capital.
Ganeshan told Express on Sunday that the Western Province Chief Minister, Prasanna Ranatunga, had told him that he had cancelled the re-naming because he was told that the renaming ceremony was part of the observance of the birth anniversary of the slain LTTE leader V Prabhakaran and the observance of the LTTE’s Great Heroes’ Day. The renaming was to take place on November 25, while Prabhakaran’s birth anniversary was on November 26, and the Great Heroes’ Day was on November 27. Of late, the Lankan government has been very apprehensive about LTTE resurgence in the island.
No “official” Reason
However, the Chief Minister’s official letter of cancellation had not cited any reason. But Udaya Gammanpilla, a minister in the provincial government, said that residents of the area had objected to naming the road after a particular ethnic group, on the grounds that people of all communities were living along the road. These objections would be inquired into before taking a decision, he added.
However, since the issue has been agitating the Tamil-speaking people of Colombo, the Chief Minister has called for a meeting on December 4.
At the meeting, the Sangam’s office-bearers, Tamil litterateurs and Tamil lovers are expected to stoutly defend the non-partisan and apolitical character of the Sangam. AHM Azwer, an anti-LTTE ruling party MP, but a Tamil lover and a contributor to the Sangam, said that the institution was so apolitical that it would not invite politicians unless they were litterateurs or patrons of literature.
Among the many Tamil scholars from India who had addressed the Sangam in its 70-year history were: K A P Viswanatham, M P Sivagnanam, Kundrakudi Adigalar, Abdur Rahman, M M Ismail, Asokamitran, V R Nedunchezian and Komal Swaminathan. The Sangam was patronised by renowned Tamil scholars like professors K Sivathambi and M M Uvais.