Stray cattle beat SLA cordon in Thenmaraadchi
[TamilNet, Saturday, 15 March 2008, 17:50 GMT]
The cattle-roundup-day organized by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Saturday when the SLA allowed displaced Tamil families from the Thenamaraadchy High Security Zone (HSZ) including Thananki'lappu and Maravanpulo areas to take back the cattle left behind, ended in failure as only five cows out of the more than 6000 were caught in the "net," residents of Thenmaraadchi who followed the event told TamilNet.
More than 500 men from the displaced families engaged in the cattle hunt from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m Saturday.
More than about 2000 cattle left behind by the families evicted from the said HSZ zone in Thenmaraadchi due to SLA offensives in 1999 have grown into more than 6000, and have become a security threat to the SLA in the area, sources said.
Most of the cattle had escaped to areas away from where the families were allowed to search for the cattle.
After officially handing over the five animals caught on Saturday to the owners, SLA commander in charge of the operation, told the families that SLA soldiers will roundup 20 cattle at a time in the future and will handover the animals to the owners.
Many animals step on the landmines buried by the Security Forces along perimeters and selected areas of security inside the HSZ, causing additional burden to the security forces already stretched to monitor and contain infiltration of LTTE fighters along the Thenmaraadchi shores.
The cattle also were known to stray into adjacent fertile land where farming was permitted by the SLA and to destroy crops, becoming a menace to the farmers who barely eked out a living farming agricultural crops or paddy.
SLA disallowed paddy cultivation inside the HSZ for the last nine years.