1974 Tamil conference incident

1974 Tamil Conference Incident

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1974 Tamil conference incident

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The 1974 Tamil conference incident occurred during the fourth World Tamil Research Conference, which was held in the city of Jaffna between January 3 and 9, 1974. Police action resulted in the loss of nine lives, the loss of civilian property and more than 50 civilians sustaining severe injuries.

Early conflict

The SLFP-dominated government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike had requested that the conference be held in the capital Colombo but the conference organizers held it in the Tamil-dominant city of Jaffna.

On January 10, the organizers decided to hold a public meeting to distribute awards to those who had participated in the cultural program. The audience, more than 10,000 in number, spanned the road and overflowed into open expanses.

The incident

Assistant Superintendent of Police Chandrasekera, a Sinhalese commissioned officer, led a truckload of anti-riot police of more than 40 to the scene. Their unheralded arrival ended in the chaotic disruption of the ceremony.

The police had been advancing slowly through the crowd in jeep and truck wearing steel helmets, ordering the crowd to move. At the time Professor Naina Mohamed, a distinguished Tamil scholar from India, was speaking and the crowd was heavily packed, such that the police could proceed no further. Then the policemen who were armed with rifles, tear-gas bombs,...
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