We also note that the Northern Provincial Council has issued a bipartisan statement signed by the Chief Minister and Opposition Leader welcoming the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry in this regard by the university authorities with a request that such incidents should not be viewed from a purely criminal law standpoint but must be aimed at identifying the underlying causes that led to their violent behavior. They have identified as background factors the demographic pattern of the North and East after the war as being consciously changed and students from other provinces being admitted in large numbers into Jaffna University.
The clash in Jaffna was preceded in March this year by a clash between Tamil and Sinhalese university students in the Trincomalee campus over an incident of ragging. The high proportion of Sinhalese amounting to between 60 to 80 percent of the student body in some of the university faculties in the North and East has caused a feeling of being under pressure by the influx of Sinhalese students in traditionally Tamil (and Muslim) areas. The changed ethnic composition of the student body is invariably accompanied by a change in the administrative composition of the university system. Both these factors may be viewed with anxiety by the Tamil and Muslim communities in the North and East who are seeking to protect their identity not least in the areas in which they are a majority.
The National Peace Council is of the view that the reasons for the frustration of the students need to be understood and the causes dealt with. While the government, Tamil parties and liberal academics are having a positive rapport at the highest levels, this relationship of trust and cooperation has yet to permeate the student consciousness. This problem is likely to exist at the larger community level also. There is a need for a more concerted effort to be made for people-to-people engagement to develop greater understanding and sensitivity to the concerns of each ethnic and religious community. It is also necessary for the government and university administration to keep reasonable ethnic ratios in mind when allocating places for students to universities in different parts of the country.
The National Peace Council is an independent and non partisan organization that works towards a negotiated political solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. It has a vision of a peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka in which the freedom, human rights and democratic rights of all the communities are respected. The policy of the National Peace Council is determined by its Governing Council of 20 members who are drawn from diverse walks of life and belong to all the main ethnic and religious communities in the country.