The island nation breathes its freedom.
Three years after the Eelam War IV ended in the comprehensive victory of the Sri Lankan forces, the country’s capital has finally begun lowering its watch.
For anyone who has visited Sri Lanka before, the first noticeable change will begin at the country’s gateway — the presence of armed forces personnel at the Bandaranaike Airport is minimal now, compared to even last month.
Step out, and travel to Colombo, about 35 km away, and the noticeable change is that the Army pickets are gone: No more menacing men in Olive green flagging down the vehicles and asking for identity cards of its occupants. The huge walls which once characterised any government building, the bunkers, and the elaborate security arrangements ahead of gaining entry to most government offices were among the first to be dismantled. Many of the Raj-era buildings, including some police stations, have finally emerged from their “hiding places” from behind the walls and have added significantly to the beauty of Colombo.
And, yes, the tourist arrivals have increased substantially. Every month, a new record in tourist arrivals is being set. Hotels and business establishments are trying to make up for lost time — the war was on for about 30 years — and have significantly hiked their room rates. Peace helps a section of society make a good living, just as war did for another section.