How did pittu and pizza jump out of kitchens, restaurants and eating houses when there are lockouts, partial curfews and social distance, end up in court?
November 2020 brought to mind many aspects of Sri Lanka in the context of court action instituted by the Attorney General’s Department and Police who petitioned to obtain a ban on commemoration activities by supporters of LTTE the ‘to mourn their fallen heroes’.
Tamil print media, especially in Jaffna, published a news item under the caption ‘Headquarters Inspector of Police, Jaffna expressed open apology in Magistrate court.’
Being a citizen born and bred in Jaffna it is natural for a thinking person to just dig into the subject of apology and the matters surrounding it. Further perusal of the said Tamil print media, verbal inquiries from knowledgeable co-citizens and interaction with friends, convince me that the key words were ‘pittu’ and ‘pizza.’
How did pittu and pizza jump out of kitchens, restaurants and eating houses when there are lockouts, partial curfews and social distance, end up in court? I decided to dig deep to find the answer.
Apparently a senior police officer of Jaffna Police station had stated that Jaffna people now have the means to have pizzas in elevated restaurants, instead of the pittu they had eaten earlier.
As a person who lived in Jaffna during the hostilities, I experienced the horrors of life. The transformation occurred after May, 2009. Not only United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions but also the reports of the Central Bank recognized and confirmed the fact that the Gross Domestic Product of Sri Lanka increased manifold since then. The emergence of the thousands of multiple businesses, employment opportunities massive hotels, wedding halls, restaurants, renovation and repairs of Hindu temples costing billions of rupees, eating houses, lodging houses testifies amply to the changed environment in the north particularly in the Jaffna District. State and private banks, finance companies and leasing companies built and expanded their activities. We also saw the entry of security service companies to provide security to the cluster of multiple business centers. One can observe thousands of motorbikes in the district, both in urban and rural areas, on streets at one time monopolixed by push bicycles. Super market chains, KFCs and other businesses are not exempted. There are hundreds of marketing executives and representatives in Jaffna.
There is not an iota of disbelief regarding the transformation of Jaffna. It is now history how Covid19 impacted the globe and the statistics on morbidity and mortality provide reliable data on the human causalities dimension. The impact on economic does not require any evidence.
When it comes to Sri Lanka World Health Organisation commended the Government leadership of the country for the preventive measures planned and executed by the government. Under the policy framework of the government, the efficient and experienced health leadership designed the models for facing the challenges and the impact of Covid-19. The implementation process has been handled by the Sri Lankan security forces, the Police and the public service. We are aware the commitment and involvement of the Police and the involvement has been proved by the rate of infection among the Police force. The consistent involvement of the police in Jaffna has been recognized by the general public of Jaffna.
Pittu cannot be separated from this article. It is a well-known fact that bread and parippu was and is one of the most popular breakfast options of Sri Lankans regardless of where one lives. The advent of wheat flour opened opportunities for homemade string hoppers, pittu, rotty etc. This breakfast practice of eating pittu, string-hoppers and bread is common in Sri Lanka and not a matter of abuse and/or dishonor. What puzzled me was how pittu became a talking point.
Pizza of course is an expensive type of food. In Jaffna fast food distributors are in action and the advanced communication facilities have the potential to bring the pizza food packet to the doors of the recipients. The determinant factor of choice between pittu and pizza is the strength of one’s purse.
Out of the five Ps in the title, ‘Plunder’ is key. The so-called representatives of the people, self-proclaimed civil societies, foreign funded NGOs and Tamil print media also have the responsibility of showing the correct direction to the Government and people. The role of electronic media and print media is huge. However, social media has diluted the traditional role of the mass media. The competition between traditional media and social media is a healthy competition to filter the truth. It is an unfortunate that TRUTH is still hidden.
Neutrality, reliable sources, factual reporting, clarity of news, investigative journalism, strengthening and constructive criticism of the state organs and bureaucracy are some of the noble objectives of the mass media. However, the subject of apology has been disseminated in such a way that the Police officer was a wrong- doer.
Who is responsible for clouding the minds of innocent readers of Tamil media that the Police officer ridiculed the food habits of Jaffna people and for the harm done to the Police officer? What happened to the so-called preamble to the code of ethics? The brave and courageous Police officer’s conduct is praiseworthy because he had no second thoughts about expressing his open apology, if the feelings of the Jaffna people have been hurt as a result of his pittu talk. Indeed, penitence is one of the great virtues.
The top management of the Police in Jaffna deserves commendation for handling the manner in a harmonious manner without throwing an opportunity to interested parties to blow it up in disproportionate levels. The combined plunder of the so-called Tamil leadership and the independent media has compounded the sufferings of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.