At the end of the war in 2009, we, a group of people from Kapagapuram, Vavuniya who fled the violent war to the refugee camps in south India returned to our homeland with full of hopes. The Government of India said that we can get their assistance to settle down and to rebuild the premises.
I thought that we finally, after 19 years of displacement, could return to a peaceful life, but it was another nightmare that waited for us. The lands that we had cultivated were no longer fruitful. The village was thrown into the ravages of war. A half of areas were under the control of the military and the other half under the LTTE. The war had ended, but those memories of the brutal violence as well as of the years when we had nothing to earn a living in the camps was still vivid and painful while looking at the stretched bunkers over our paddy fields and ruins of our houses.
We restarted our life from having nothing but bare hands and few iron sheets provided by the government. In the daytime, we are alert to unknown ammunition buried under our feet; in the night, we beware of deadly snakes invading our broken shelters all the time.
The dawn light arrived our gloomy life in 2010. Kapagapuram 86 families were approved as the Indian Housing Project beneficiaries. Under the instructions of the Divisional Secretary and Grama Niladhari, we submitted the required documents, photographs and even opened bank accounts, feeling overjoyed about the fulfillment of the promise of the Indian government.
However, after five years of waiting, the villagers accidentally discovered that their documents were thrown in the trash can in the Grama Niladhari’s office. What was thrown away was not only the papers, but also the trust of many elders in Kapagapuram to the government’s promises before their death in these five years.
Thereafter, we exhausted all the means available, visited many offices, but were silenced with unfulfilled promises over and over again. Ironically, there are nearly five hundred and fifty houses constructed under the Indian Housing Project in Slambaikulam, a new village five hundred meters away from Kapagapuram that the government cut down the forest and developed, have no one ever lived in. Those houses’ beneficiaries, when Kapagapuram people are living with suffers days and nights, are sleeping peacefully in their houses on the other lands they own.
I couldn’t help but keep asking: who follows the selection criteria? Who decides and who intervenes?
In our country, what is fairness and justice?