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Dushy Nadarajah

My name is Dushy Nadarajah. I have been living in Canada for over 19 years. I grew up in Nallur, Jaffna. I completed my studies in India and after which I began looking for a job.

After an interview in Colombo, I headed back to Jaffna on July 23, 1983. That night, our family was up late when the lights began to flicker and dim. Through the stillness of the night, we could hear firing in the distance. The next morning we learnt that 13 soldiers were killed in Tirunuveli and word spread that we might experience some trouble. A few even said that the ambush was retaliation by the Tigers and the youth against harassment of girls by the Army on St. Patrick’s College grounds.

The same evening, I saw nearly fifteen or twenty Sri Lankan soldiers walking to towards our road from the direction of Tirunuveli. We all saw them coming. Our house was at the junction where three roads met. They spread out to cover all the streets. One of them came straight into my kitchen and asked for kerosene and match box. When he left, I quickly ran out and looked out to the far end of the road. The houses were burning there.

People scattered out of their houses and hid outside. We jumped over a fence and hid in a neighbors house. Only our parents stayed behind. In the night, they came back and broke the fence and windows. They wanted all the lights turned on and doors open. They freely raided the town. Many were drunk. They would stagger in and out of houses and even trip on the stairs. They were looking to any items to loot. By morning, they were all gone however we all not the same anymore.

When the refugees from Colombo arrived, everyone in the area made food parcels while a few others like my brother visited the camps to provide the foods parcels or support in any manner. It was difficult to hear about their experiences. Some of the refugees had never stepped foot in Jaffna before the riots. Everything was very new for them.

People were constantly on guard after ’83 riots. We always tried to avoid Army officials. My father was a government servant in charge of Food control. The army would frequently visit our house but we never stay there – we immediately leave out the back.

In1984, I was returned to India and then moved to US. When troubles began to increase in Jaffna due to the violent actions of the Indian Peace Keeping Force, I realized I could not go back. Soon everyone in my family began to leave. I visited Canada when I was a student and had a great experience. Thus, I decided to move to Canada and built my new life here.



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