COLOMBO: Shakthivel Ilankeswaran, a 34-year-old Tamil Tiger cadre who is serving a sentence for involvement in a bid to assassinate former Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga, crossed the ethnic barrier and married a Sinhalese girl at the Magazine Prison here on Thursday. Bride Gunasena Sudarshini (32) is a teacher in Vavuniya. After the wedding, she went back to her job in the northern town, and the groom was taken back to his cell.
The couple had been in love with each other for 13 years, despite the ethnic strife in the country. Love had not diminished even after Ilankeswaran was arrested, tried and sentenced for coordinating the human bomb attack on President Kumaratunga at an election meeting in the city in 1999.
Despite the imprisonment, Sudarshini was dead set on marrying Ilankeswaran. It did not matter to her if he was in jail serving a long sentence and she was outside. But Sudarshini had no idea as to how such a marriage could take place until she discussed the question with Geethanjali Naguleswaran, Principal of Royal International School in Vavuniya, who is also a top functionary of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) in the Northern Province.
Speaking to The Sunday Standard after the prison wedding, Geethanjali said: “I decided to help Sudarshini because I value love above everything else. That Ilankeswaran was serving a sentence for his links with the LTTE did not matter to me because I felt that love must be fostered no matter who was involved.”
Geethanjali added, “President Rajapksa has ended the war and put Sri Lanka on the road to peace and ethnic reconciliation. All Sri Lankans, including those in prison, should be able to enjoy the benefits of the new environment created by the President.”
Geethanjali got the prison authorities to facilitate the union of the couple, and hold it up as a shining example of the triumph of love over an ethnic divide.
“Thousands of young Tamil men and women are in jail for association with the LTTE, whether out of free will or under duress, and it pains me to see them behind bars. But fortunately, the Sri Lankan prison system is enlightened and is geared to reforming the wrong doer rather than punishing him,” Geethanjali said. In an another ceremony, Balachandran Pushparaja (34), serving a sentence in a drug case, married Mohammad Razik Fathima (23), his sweetheart of over 10 years.