Feature Article

Role of powers with colonial legacy, abetting contemporary Sinhalicisation, requires scrutiny

[TamilNet, Sunday, 22 July 2018, 20:33 GMT]
The National Housing Development Authority (NHDA), which comes under the occupying unitary state of genocidal Sri Lanka, is silently transferring 5 acres of lands to the notorious British-trained ‘Special Task Force’ (STF) to expand its commando post into a permanent camp to defend the controversial Sinhala colony at the strategic entrance to Jaffna at Naavat-kuzhi. The colonisation scheme, initiated during the rule of Rajapaksa brothers, received state-patronisation after the regime change backed by the West. The colony is planned to control the arteries of the city and to Sinhalicise Jaffna city itself. The trend is also evidenced in the latest move by the occupying Colombo to station its troops at the Jaffna Fort, which is ‘developed’ with the blessings, funding and research coming from the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

The European powers with a colonial legacy in the island, backing the Colombo-centric Sinhala Theravada Buddhist agenda through sophisticated development, heritage and archaeological programmes in the city of Jaffna must be viewed within the same context as that of the Sinhalicisation of the city being physically advanced from Naavatkuzhi, Tamil political observers in Jaffna commented.

Naavat-kuzhi is a strategically located junction 5 km east of Jaffna city, where the two highways A9 and A32 that come from the south join and enter into the city.

Kearatheevu Changkuppiddi causeway

The STF, trained by the British in counter-insurgency is a full-fledged military unit administratively placed under the SL Police.

The colonisation programme is carried out with the high level of militarisation of the peninsula as well as the entire Northern Province.

The Chief Minister of Northern Provincial Council Justice C.V. Wigneswaran has stated that the SL military is occupying 65,000 acres of lands in the Northern Province.

The Jaffna Peninsula, with its meagre natural resources, is already a densely populated place in the Northern Province.

Colombo's NHDA is transferring the lands, which are allocated for residential purposes, to the STF while the District Secretariat in Jaffna, which also comes under the purview of the occupying SL state, has been pleading with the NDHA to allocate lands and housing schemes to the landless [Tamil] families in the district, the sources at the District Secretariat said.

More than 14,000 families lack residential lands in the district of Jaffna, according to the SL Government Agent N. Vethanayahan.

Colombo’s attempt to bring in Sinhala families with military protection to colonise a strategic location at the entrance to Jaffna city is seen as an open demonstration of the structural genocide programme implemented by the Sri Lankan State in the complicity of external powers.

Coastal military establishments in North
Sri Lanka's large military establishments that choke Jaffna peninsula and threaten Indian security. Sinhala colonisation is carried out in places no 11, 13, 14, and 16. The locations: 1. High Security Zone, Valikaamam North, 2. Kaarainakar naval base, 3. Vallan, Pungkudutheevu, 4. Periyathu'rai and Saamiththoadda-munai, Delft (Key location for Kachchatheevu and Rameswaram), 5. Kunthavadi, Delft, 6. Thalai-mannaar, 7. Mannaar Fort, 8. Tha'l'laadi, 9. Poonakari Fort, 10. Elephant Pass, 11. Vettilaikkea'ni, 12. Naakarkoayil, 13. Ariyaalai East and the opposite sandbar Ma'n'niththalai, 14. Naavatkuzhi, 15. Ma'ndaitheevu and 16. Jaffna city. The innumerable small military posts and the newly planned cantonments in Vanni are not shown in the map. [Satellite Image courtesy: NASA, Visible Earth. Legend by TamilNet]

The colonisation scheme, initiated during the times of Rajapaksa administration has been further strengthened under Maithiripala Sirisena and Ranil Wickramasinghe with state-sponsored housing schemes to the Sinhala colonists.

A Tamil settlement named ‘Ketpali’ was created during the times of the LTTE, between 1990-1995 at Naavatkuzhi. Later, the people were displaced due to the war. After 2009, they have been struggling without proper housing, infrastructure and livelihood assistance.

In the meantime, some Sinhala families brought from South with claims of earlier residence at various locations in Jaffna due to their past employment were brought to Navatkuzhi by the SL military during the regime of Rajapaksa.

The recently put up name board “Sinhala Ravaya Village” at Naavat-kuzhi in Jaffna. “Sinhala Ravaya” is an organisation led by Buddhist monks working in parallel with the “Buddhist Power Force” (BBS). Note that the name of the extremist group is not given in English in the name board. The English text only states ‘Since 2011’ as a smokescreen to protect the current regime. The full name is rendered in Sinhala and Tamil as ‘Sinhala Ravaya Village’. “Ravaya” literally means “Sound” or “Voice”. The term is also used to imply news.

More than 300 uprooted, war-affected and poverty-stricken Eezham Tamil families have been languishing at Naavatkuzhi without a housing scheme.

When the housing scheme was introduced in January 2017, Colombo deceived ITAK leader Mavai Senathirajah with false promises.

The argument put forward by the Sinhala NHDA officials to silence the objections coming from the NPC was that the Tamil families languishing at the locality would be awarded 100 houses as a donation if the Tamil representatives agreed not to object the construction of 50 homes to Sinhala colonists.

The ITAK politicians silenced the NPC Councillor M.K. Sivagilingam who had vowed to protest against the Sinhalicisation. Mr Senathiraja was also instrumental in silencing the NPC through C.V.K. Sivagnanam, the speaker of the NPC.

However, no housing scheme was given to Tamils as promised by the NDHA.

Almost a year later, the Sinhala colonists at the locality started to visit the huts of poverty-stricken Tamil families offering to facilitate housing if the Tamil families agreed to convert themselves to Buddhism and enlist their children to study Sinhala.

Thus, Naavat-kuzhi has become one of the hotspots in Jaffna for the Theravada Sinhala Buddhist Establishment, which is erecting a Buddhist vihara at the locality.

Similarly, Sinhala Buddhist monks are also concentrating on converting the poverty-stricken Tamil families at Vaatharavaththai, a locality in Puththoor of Valikaamam East division in Jaffna.

During the times of war, the occupying Sinhala military stationed in Naavatkuzhi has massacred Tamils.

Former SL Commander and present minister, Sarath Fonseka, is consistently protecting Major General Duminda Keppettiwalana, who commanded the Sinhala soldiers of the military camp at Naavatkuzhi in 1996.

In the meantime, alleged mass graves from the past still surface inside the Jaffna Fort and in Chemma'ni.

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