BUREAU OF THE COMMISSIONER GENERAL OF REHABILITATION
"MINISTRY OF PRISON REFORMS,REHABILITATION, RESETTLEMENT AND HINDU RELIGIOUS AFFAIRS"

NEW BEGINNINGS

Sri Kanth Sri Khanna a rehabilitated ex LTTE cadre wedded his sweetheart Kadiravelu Thangarasa Idayarubi at a special ceremony organized by the department of the Commissioner General of Rehabilitation at the Kandakadu rehabilitation centre on Sunday (17).

Maj. B.D.S. Rajaratne the officer in charge of the Kandakadu rehabilitation camp said that the government had taken measures to foster greater ties between the people of the North and East with the rest of the country with the end of the decades long war. The ex LTTE cadres who have undergone the rehabilitation program have been given the opportunity to understand the members of the armed forces and build better ties based on trust and understanding.

Although they had hostile and bitter sentiment toward the government forces and the Sinhala people, subsequent to them coming to the camp for rehabilitation, they have learnt to trust us and now the relationships and bonds between the two parties have grown tremendously. They looked to us to fulfill most of their humanitarian needs and we have done everything in our power to make them comfortable. “These beneficiaries have told us that in the past they had wanted to shoot, the moment they spotted a military uniform. However they had never thought that these very same soldiers clad in the khaki uniform would treat them so well. Now they are the best of friends and its amazing to see the bonds that have been established through trust, he added.”

Subsequent to completing his rehabilitation program of one year at the Kandakadu Rehabilitation centre in the Polonnaruwa district Sri Kanth Sri Khanna was unable to leave the rehabilitation centre as he had no guardian.

Speaking to Ceylon Today Sri Kanth Sri Khanna said that he has no recollection of parents or family. “From the time I remember I lived in a camp with about another 250 orphans that was run by the LTTE. I think I am around 21 years, and was brought up by the LTTE. I joined the movement only during the latter stages of the war. Somehow during the last stages of the way some of the children at the camp joined the front lines and some of us were taken over by the Army. I was also one who surrendered to the government forces by the end of the war. Some of the children were also killed in the shelling. Although my training is over now but I have no place to go as I have no family to take me. I have an ambition find a job and rebuild my life with my friend some day,” he said with great hope.

He had arrived at the Kandakadu camp on 08 November 2011. “I met Kadiravelu Thangarasa Idayarubi (20) through another friend at the camp. She used to call me regularly and we developed a close friendship which eventually turned into love. I asked her if she was willing to be my wife and she agreed readily provided we get her parent’s consent. Fortunately for me her parents not only gave their blessings for our marriage, but they also expressed their willingness to become my guardian as well”, he added.

However not having a source of income and no family to assist him, Khanna was in a dilemma as to how he would manage his wedding expenses as well as how he would be able to commence a life with Idayarubi as he had no employment to support their new life. “I was fortunate to meet a kind hearted man, who was a part of the organization that provided the raw materials needed for the masonry course that I was following, named Amarasooriya. He has been kind enough to organize the funding needed to make this day a complete success.”

Khanna further added that Maj. B.D.S Rajaratne the officer in charge of the Kandakadu rehabilitation camp has been more than just an officer in charge. “He has been taking care of us and also advising me constantly like a father. He was even willing to be my guardian if no relative could be found. Thanks to this fine officer I have been given a life and he is the one who sought the assistance from the various parties in making this day a success. I never knew my father and Maj. Rajaratne will always have a special place in my heart like a father,” he said.

Meanwhile Maj. B.D.S Rajaratne said that Although they had hostile and bitter sentiment toward the government forces and the Sinhala people, subsequent to them coming to the camp for rehabilitation, they have learnt to trust us and now the relationships and bonds between the two parties have grown tremendously. They looked to us to fulfill most of their humanitarian needs and we have done everything in our power to make them comfortable. “These beneficiaries have told us that in the past they had wanted to shoot the moment they spotted a military uniform. However they had never thought that these very same soldiers clad in the khaki uniform would treat them so well. Now they are the best of friends and its amazing to see the bonds that have been established through trust.”

Maj. Rajaratne added that he was concerned at the plight of Khanna and was worried that the fact that he had no family to accept him would affect his spirits. “However when I spoke to Amarasooriya regarding the plight of Khanna, he immediately volunteered to assist in making his dream come true,” he said.

Also speaking to Ceylon Today Amarasooriya said that he was moved at the plight of Khanna and decided to step in to make his dream a reality. “The company I work for (GIZ) was involved in providing the raw materials needed for the masonry course, and we have trained around 200 rehabilitants and also provided them tool boxes at the recently concluded reintegration ceremony, which would assist them in engaging in their trade.”

He also added that when he heard of the plight of Khanna who is an orphan he was moved. “Maj Rajaratne told me that a girl was willing to marry him and also that her parents were willing to be his guardian. Hence I set the wheels in motion in getting him sponsors to assist him realize his dream. My brother who is a doctor in the UK immediately agreed to provide some of the financial support the moment I informed him of Khanna. His suit, marriage expenses, wedding ring, jewellary and other items were also sponsored by various other parties. Everything was organized well under the able guidance of the commanding officer Maj. Rajaratne,” he added.

The bride Kadiravelu Thangarasa Idayarubi and the bridal entourage arrived at the camp around 09.35 am and was escorted by the groom and the personnel of the camp to the Hindu shrine within the camp premises for the religious rituals.

Subsequent to the religious rituals being performed the couple were then taken to a special hall that was decorated for the occasion, for the registration and reception. The registration took place around 10.15 am while Mrs. Thamara Nandani Gurusinghe was the registrar in attendance.

The commissioner General of Rehabilitation Brigadier Dharshana Hettiarachchi, M.S. Sathish Kumar senior consultant of the ministry of rehabilitation, Maj. B.D.S Rajaratne the officer in charge of the Kandakadu rehabilitation camp, Lieutenant Colonel P.H.N Sirishantha who is the commanding officer of the East together with a large gathering of service personnel and the members of the Kandakadu Rehabilitation centre participated in the ceremony.

By Camelia Nathaniel

Pic by Nuwan Amarawansa