Encroaching Sinhala settlers from the South of Sri Lanka aided and abetted by the Sri Lankan state and protected by the military occupation in the North-East have resorted to sickening and despicable acts of maiming and slaughtering the cows grazing in the lands of the local Tamil farmers in order to evict them from their lawful lands. It is well known by the majority Sinhala-Buddhists of the country that the majority of the Tamils in the North-East and the rest of the country who are Hindus revere and worship cows. These cruel tactics, targeting the religious sensibilities as well of the Tamil Hindus, are the latest in the efforts of land grabs and evictions being carried out by the current Sri Lankan regime even as the Indian government has helped bail out Sri Lanka from bankruptcy.
In the Mayilathamadu Madhavanai area in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province, Tamil farmers recount harrowing details of their cattle being stabbed by the Sinhala settlers who then threaten the lives of the farmers and their families as well. The Chinese funded Maduru Oya Right Bank Development project, ostensibly initiated by the Sri Lankan government to benefit the Tamil areas of Batticaloa in the Eastern Province, is now clearly evident to be another example of the insidious means by which the Sri Lankan state undertakes ethnic cleansing and demographic change in favor of the Sinhalese majority of the country. The Sri Lankan government secretly brought in Sinhalese corn cultivators from the South and settled them in these lands thereby preventing the grazing of cattle belonging to Tamil farmers. The lands demarcated for grazing 300,000 cattle belonging to Tamil farmers are being taken over by the encroaching settlers who then not only prevent the grazing but maim and kill the cattle as a deterrent to their owners. The protesting Tamil farmers nor the Tamil Parliamentarians of the area have any recourse when the strong arm of the Buddhist clergy is also brought in to the support the settlers.
These latest atrocities follow the pattern set by the Forest Department of the Sri Lankan government who have appropriated the coastal lands stretching from Araali to Ponnaalai in the Northern Province, thereby depriving the livelihood of not only the fishing communities but also the farmers along that stretch of coastal land. The affected Tamil communities have staged protest demonstrations against these actions which have no legitimate bearing on the preservation of forest land, but simply for the purpose of settling Sinhala communities from the South. Their cry is simply, “We want our Sea”, “We want our Land”.
Not to be outdone, the Archeology Department of Sri Lanka has the single minded purpose of identifying Hindu temples and Hindu religious areas as sacred to Buddhists. These spurious claims have resulted in the destruction of Hindu temples followed by the construction of Buddhist vihares in their place. When Tamils obtain court orders to prevent such desecrations, Buddhist monks and Sri Lankan Sinhala-Buddhist politicians and ministers brazenly flout the decisions of the courts. The recent resignation of the District Judge of the war torn Mullaithivu district, Mr. T. Saravanaraja, and his subsequent fleeing from the country with his family exemplifies the total collapse of the judicial system as it applies to the Tamil areas of the North-East. Judge Saravanaraja’s life threatening mistake was to rule justly and impartially in the case relating to the ancient Tamil Hindu religious site in Kurunthumalai. He had ordered the removal of illegal construction which included a Buddhist shrine built on the hill site of Kurunthumalai where the ancient Tamil Hindu temple, the revered Athi Aiyanar temple was located. In blatant opposition to the court order, Sinhala-Buddhist monks supported by the Archeology Department and under the protection of the Sri Lankan military occupation and security forces continued the illegal construction. The mob who stormed Judge Saravanaraja’s court house threatening his life and that of his family were also incensed that he had visited the mass grave site in Kokkuthadavai, also in the Mulliathivu district, and ordered excavations. The Sri Lankan government has refused to conduct internationally supervised investigations at this site like many others in the Tamil North-East which contain the remains of Tamils killed extra judicially. It is in this context that not only had Judge Saravanaraja to face the fury of Sinhala-Buddhist mobs but was also summoned by the Sri Lankan Attorney General and pressured to amend his judgement on the Kurunthumalai case. It was no wonder that the good judge decided to throw in the towel and flee the country with his family.
These are merely the few cases which exemplify the countless others pointing to the parlous state of Tamils in their North-East Homeland facing an existential threat to their traditional livelihood in farming, animal husbandry, and fishing, while at the same time being deprived of their rightful spiritual and religious practices.