2ND LEAD (Adds background)

Occupation of grazing lands in Batticaloa is big scale Sinhalicisation: EPC Councillor

[TamilNet, Thursday, 07 August 2014, 08:40 GMT]
Colombo is engaged in a sinister move to Sinhalicise and colonise a large territory of the Batticaloa district with Sinhalese, Eastern Provincial Council (EPC) Tamil National Alliance (TNA) councillor K. Thurairajasingham told TamilNet. The area consists of more than 30 Tamil villages that come under the Koara’laip-pattu South (Kiraan) and Ea’raavoor-pattu (Chengkaladi) divisions. The Sinhala colonisation project is taken forward through militarisation. Buddhist monks and Sinhala politicians from Ampaa’rai and Polonnaruwa districts are deployed by Colombo to give political leadership to the Sinhalicisation phase of the project.

“We have won the war. Now the land is ours,” is their attitude, Mr Thurairajasingham, who was a former TNA parliamentarian, further told TamilNet.

“We have done everything from seeking legal action to even appealing with the local commanders of the occupying military. Nothing has worked to stop the occupation of grazing lands,” he said.

Forests that need to be preserved are also being burnt down. The Tamil farmers have approached even the SL Forest Conservation authorities in Colombo and SL ministers. “But, everyone keep telling a different story,” the Tamil councillor further said.

The reports of occupation of grazing lands should not be seen as isolated events of encroachment, the EPC councillor said urging Tamil politicians to prioritize the issue.

Sinhala paramilitary known as ‘home-guards’ is actively deployed in the occupation of grazing lands blocking Tamil farmers from taking their cattle. There have been several reports of violent attacks, thefts and slaying of cattle belonging to Tamil farmers in both the divisions.

There have been several reports of similar occupation in three other divisions, Poaratheevup-pattu, Paddip-pazhai and Vavu’na-theevu in the district.

30,000 acres of lands had been allocated as pasture lands for the benefit of 250,000 livestock in Batticaloa district.

In practice, the Tamil farmers were using 50,000 for several years. But, in recent years, the Sri Lankan government has restricted the area to 30,00 acres.

In addition to this official ‘reduction’, the SL military has seized several acres of the lands within the allocated 30,000 acres, distributing these lands to the families of Sinhala ‘home guards’.


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