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Burning of the Jaffna library ­01.06.1981

Jaffna library was considered the largest library with the rarest collection of books and manuscripts in the whole of South Asia. It
was the educational heritage of the people in the North of the island. It was located south of the Jaffna town on the eastern end of a famous sports ground. Close to it is the Jaffna Central College and the clock tower built during the British rule.

The library housed more than 97,000 rare books and was unique in the entire island. For its time, it was a library well designed for study and was sought by students and academics as well as by foreign diplomats.

On 1 June 1981 at 10.00 pm, all three armed forces of the Sri Lankan government entered the library premises and chased away the security guard. They broke open the library door and started burning books. A rare collection of 97,000 books were burnt in a few minutes. The building was also set alight.

The burning of the Jaffna library is one clear example of the intent of the Sri Lankan government to destroy the Tamil culture in the island. This book burning of the rarest collection of books in South Asia must be engraved as a tragic episode in the human history.

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