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Prabhakaran's sick mother misses children

Till the time it was demolished last year, slain Tamil Tiger chief V Prabhakaran's ancestral home in Jaffna was a star tourist attraction. Now, tourists from southern Sri Lanka are thronging Valvettithurai government hospital to catch a glimpse of his ailing 81-year-old mother, V Parvathi Pillai. Sutirtho Patranobis reports.

world Updated: Feb 11, 2011 00:55 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Till the time it was demolished last year, slain Tamil Tiger chief V Prabhakaran's ancestral home in Jaffna was a star tourist attraction.

Now, tourists from southern Sri Lanka are thronging Jaffna's Valvettithurai government hospital to catch a glimpse of his ailing 81-year-old mother, V Parvathi Pillai.

Doctors and politicians told HT over phone from Valvettithurai that a steady stream of tourists stops-by the hospital to see a bed-ridden Parvathi, even take photographs.

"It's a government hospital. There's no restriction. Anybody can take photographs," Dr KM Perumal, her doctor, said.

Lakhs of southern tourists have visited Jaffna since a vital road-link was reopened after years in January last year.

"Thousands come to see her (Parvathi) and the underground operation theatre built by the LTTE in the hospital premises. Many offer fresh fruits and milk powder to her. The hospital distributes most of it among other patients and the poor," former Jaffna MP, MK Sivajilingam, said.

The patient herself is not doing too well. She was deported from India last April when she landed in Chennai for treatment.

Subsequently, when she was admitted to the Valvettithurai hospital a month later, Parvathi was already partially paralysed, diabetic and had a heart problem.

Lately, she has sunk into severe depression and has stopped eating. Reason: though helping financially, her three remaining children - in Denmark, Canada and India -- are not ready to visit Sri Lanka.

"They fear harassment. They are frightened. For example, her daughter (Jagdishwari) calls almost everyday and sends money but is not ready to come," Sivajilingam, once considered close to the LTTE, said.

The government, however, has never said Prabhakaran's family living abroad would not be allowed to enter Sri Lanka.

"Money for treatment is not an issue. It's free in a government hospital. But drugs alone can't treat her. She wants her children to be around her," Perumal said.

Parvathi's husband passed away in January, 2010.

Sadly, for most of the time since then, doctors and camera-wielding tourists, not family, have been her only visitors.