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Report 11



4.1 Moulana Abdul Cader’s Healing Mission : Kattankudy & Akkaraipattu

4.2 Thirukkovil - Thambiluvil:

4.3 Akkaraipattu

4.3.1 Cases of detainees from Akkaraipattu, August 1990 - February 1991

Kanthan Nagalingam(20)

4.4 Kalmunai and surroundings

4.4.1 General

4.5 Return of Tamils to areas from which they were desplaced

4.6 Batticaloa and environs

4.7. Interior Rice Fields of the Batticaloa District


4.1 Moulana Abdul Cader’s Healing Mission : Kattankudy & Akkaraipattu

Sorely missed in the East are leaders respected and listened to by both the Tamil and Muslim communities who can act as a bridge to bind them as partners and overcome the recent legacy of violence. Both communities at the bottom feel a need to live together and know that to allow present differences to fester will be fatal to both. Who would have dreamed that the leadership vacuum can sometimes be filled by self effacing traders who feel the public pulse and can act fast when an opportunity presents itself. The occasion was the visit of Moulana Abdul Cader from Pakistan sharing what many acknowledged as God’s gift of healing. He saw Muslims in Kattankudy from 21st to 23rd January 1993. There had for some days been a number of requests from Tamils to see him. Muslim and Tamil traders from the Batticaloa Traders Association got together and did the needful. A number of Tamil traders went to the Muslim village of Kattankudy and worked as volunteers.

On the 24th January 1993, Tamils came to Kattankudy in their thousands from far afield as Kalmunai, Kallar and Valaichenai. The organisers were keeping their fingers crossed wondering how those whose near ones were killed in LTTE massacres would countenance this invasion by Tamils. What happened next was almost a miracle. Muslims rushed to the village border, greeted the Tamils, and led them to the Moulana, bearing on their shoulders, those who could not

walk. The Muslim trader who spoke to us was deeply moved, “The greater enthusiasm was shown by those who had suffered at Tamil hands,” he said, “This was spontaneous. It was not artificial like the government agent calling a peace meeting of Muslim and Tamil elders where good intentions are exchanged.”

For one day the two communities were as though the last seven years had not intervened. The old Moulana himself said, “Whatever becomes of your personal illnesses, let this be a day of healing between the two communities. Let not any bitterness come betwixt you hereafter.”

A week later, it was the same story at Akkaraipattu. A Tamil foreman after the event told a Muslim shop keeper, one of the organisers, “What a fine thing it was. I have never seen such in my life before.”

Everyone agreed that the atmosphere had been greatly altered for the better. The businessman from Kattankudy added, “We are advising people to take the usual precautions, so as not to expect too much and face disappointment”.[Top]

4.2 Thirukkovil - Thambiluvil:

For some months now disappearances have been non-existent and those detained are usually released quickly in a day or two. Most of those strongly suspected of LTTE involvement are sent to the detention centre in Kalutura.

Seneviratne, the STF officer in charge has come out well in public esteem for his enlightened approach. Some months ago a man was caught supplying food to the LTTE. He was warned and released. About May 1992, an LTTE boy was caught with 200 sarongs. When the manager of the local co-op was questioned, it was found after his initial denial that he had recorded a loss of 200 sarongs. He was told by Seneviratne that he understood his position, and if demands are made on him in the future, to give what is asked, but to report the matter to him. The manager was not harassed further. These could in earlier times have resulted in summary death.

During October - November 1992, the LTTE descended on the villages in a concerted attempt at extortion. Letters of demand for sums ranging from 1 lakh to 10 lakhs were sent to a number of citizens. LTTE boys moved from house to house after dark, demanding board where it was feasible. This was the time farmers received  cash after disposing of their summertime harvest. Those receiving notes of demand were often people on modest salaries. One familied man earning Rs.5000/- a month received a note of demand for Rs.5 lakhs (500,000). For the recipients of these notes and their families it was terrifying agony, ever waiting for the nocturnal knock on the door. Several of the recipients who showed reluctance were led away into the jungle by night. Some were dragged protesting, while their wives came out crying and tried to drag them back. Some who did not have the astronomical sum demanded, sold several of their cows to collect a small fraction of it - hoping that the LTTE would understand their plight and be satisfied with what was given.

A number of persons complained to the STF which wanted them to go to the place where the LTTE wanted them to come with the money. The OIC who was following with an STF party assured the nervous civilians that if the need arose it would be the STF rather than the civilians who would be the first to die. After going some distance, this unconvincing arrangement was called off. It was then arranged that those who felt threatened would go to their homes by day and spend the nights in a house close to the STF camp. The mood among several civilians was reflected by a farmer angry that their cultivation was now limited, and when the harvest was brought in after all the hard work, the LTTE came and demanded far above what they could afford. The farmer told a friend, “These fellows are ruining us. We have little choice but to be with the STF and supply information.”

Nevertheless the LTTE presence continued. An LTTE party came to a house and wanted to spend the night there. The owner of the house told the leader, “There are children in this house. They will go to school in the morning and tell some of their friends. Eventually the STF would hear of it and that would not do good to either of us”. The LTTE left. Once an LTTE boy who delivered a  letter of demand, was a few minutes later killed in an STF ambush. The recipient of the letter spent nervous nights wondering whether the LTTE suspected him of being an informer.

The STF stationed sentries in an attempt to check LTTE movements. In some instances sentries fled after a brief exchange of fire. The LTTE eventually left, often taking a fraction of what they had demanded. They are expected to return when the cash from the next harvest comes in.

During Thai Pongal (14th January), two LTTE persons who had fetched a large quantity of cake were killed in an STF ambush. The STF is said to be using defence ministry funds to put up a sports stadium and other facilities at Thambiluvil Central High School. The second in command is personally training school bands. Lionel Karunasena, DIG,STF , had personally intervened at high level to expedite loans to farmers.

More unhealthy perhaps in the long term is that the STF is utilising the leadership vacuum that exists among Tamils in the East and more particularly in the Amparai District. Following allegations that the treasurer of the local parents’ welfare society was not straight in financial matters, the OIC, STF, has assumed responsibility for collecting money and putting up a school library. Such a role, even if undertaken with the best of intentions, would leave the society stunted.

One incident that made an impact on the minds of the local people was the massacre of a large number of surrendered policemen by the LTTE in June 1990. These policemen were first assembled at Vinayagapuram, just south of Thirukkovil. Six months earlier 150 TNA cadre from the village who surrendered to the LTTE are believed to have been killed. Many from the area concluded that if the LTTE came to power this is how their rule would be. On the other hand several sons of the village are in the LTTE. The past oppressive role of the STF and the overall politics of the state, together with what is happening elsewhere in the East have combined to leave a hard core of distrust towards the intentions of the state. For the present the STF has its group of informers and so does the LTTE. This state of tension will continue until the problem is resolved at national level.[Top]

4.3 Akkaraipattu

Here again there are no disappearances. Apart from this the public has many reservations about the current role of the STF in contrast to neighbouring areas. This suggests that STF behaviour locally shows a crucial dependence on the person in charge. People are still said to be arrested on the flimsiest of grounds, badly beaten and kept for long periods on the basis of false confessions obtained under duress. A boy of 13 was picked up about November 1992 and is said to be detained on the grounds of having confessed to giving 3 packets of Nespray to the LTTE .

Dayalan (15) of Veeramunai, a refugee from August 1990 had been living with his mother in Thirukkovil from that time. In October 1992 he was returning after visiting his sister in Kalmunai when he was picked up by the STF, Akkaraipattu. He was not produced for a month and had suffered a broken arm. In early February he was still being held on the basis of a confession he had allegedly made.

A general complaint is that confessions are recorded in Sinhalese and the confessor has to sign what he cannot read.

Rasalatchumi of Kolavil had a number of children. One of her sons had joined the LTTE and whether he is dead or alive is not known. On hearing about this she and her children were harassed by frequent visits from the STF . Their well-sweep was dismantled and carried away. Rasalatchumi was forced to leave the area. The neighbours found this conduct of the STF very distasteful.

In contrast to the behaviour of the STF at Thirukkovil, in Akkaraipaththu its behaviour is very similar to the general conduct of the Sri Lankan armed forces.[Top]

4.3.1 Cases of detainees from Akkaraipattu, August 1990 - February 1991

Sellappah Rasaputiran(20)RKM Rd, Akkaraipattu 7, Eldest of 8 brothers. Father died. Left school after standard 5 and worked as assistant to a mason to support family. Arrested by STF on 24th September 1990 during cordon and search operation with help from Muslim homeguards. Tortured for 2 months in Akkaraipattu. Pricked in genitals and fingers. Administered phalanga. Iron nails driven into hand nails and nails pulled out. Wrist broken. Hung upside down and beaten with iron rod and a piece of timber. Several of his companions disappeared. Sent to Colombo and released in November 1992. Now disabled.

Kanthan Nagalingam(20)

Navatkadu, Kolavil, Akkaraipattu 3: Lost father 15 years ago. Youngest of 4, Good student. Obtained a B and 3 passes at A.Levels and was preparing to sit the second time. Taken in a round up with hundreds of others by the STF at 3.30 p.m on 3rd September 1990. Kept 29 days, beaten for two days with clubs and iron rods. Facilities very poor until the ICRC came on 18th September. Sent to New Magazine Prison and released in September 1992. Now a physical wreck, sickly and unable to continue studies.

Thambipillay Sundaramoorthy (20), Navatkadu, Kolavil:

Second in a family of 8. Father died 8 years ago. Gave up education to become a labourer. Arrested 20th January 1991, beaten and asked to sign a document not read to him. After 3 months, sent to STF, Kadawatte and kept in a dark bunker for one full month. Then sent to Kalutura and released two weeks after previous detainee.

Thiagarajah Senasuthan(15), Mother - Thirumalar, Kolavil South:

Father shot dead by the forces while worshipping at Hindu temple, 2.00 p.m, 7th August 1990. Senasuthan arrested 14th February 1991, confessed to providing the LTTE with 2 fowls. Sent to Kalutura. Not released.

23 year old husband of Pushpalatha Sangar:

Taken 7 months after marriage on 12th September 1990. Pushpalatha saw him badly injured at the STF camp 12 days later. Sent to Kalutura and not released.[Top]

4.3.2 Muslims and Tamil-Muslims relations

A major complaint by the Muslim community in Akkaraipattu, most of whom are farmers, is the severe restrictions they face in going to their fields. Tamils can now work in fields with STF permission. But a ban exists on working in fields that are easily accessible from the jungles, such as Kanjikudichcharu. A Muslim spokesman, much respected by the Tamil community said that in July 1990 the LTTE gunned down 38 Muslim farmers working in their fields in Sagamam and along Amparai Road. Another 14 were killed in Akkaraipattu town. About the same time 18 Muslim farmers were killed in Mullikulam, Attalachchenai. To this day there is great fear of going to the fields, leading to considerable impoverishment.

Muslims and Tamils mix freely in the bazaar area and Tamil workmen go into Muslim areas. But there is real and understandable fear of the Muslims venturing into Tamil areas. Many old friendships have resumed, and there is considerable openness. There are however undercurrents that surface in certain issues.

The old hospital was occupied by the forces, and the hospital was shifted to a place on the Amparai Road opposite a Tamil area with a Mosque behind the hospital. This appeared to be an area common to both communities. However a new hospital was built in the Muslim quarter along Kalmunai Road. There is a Tamil fear that pressure is being applied to up-grade the second and run down the hospital in the common area. It is similarly alleged that the Regional Development Bank is being shifted into the Muslim quarter. The thrust of these allegations is that an attempt is being made to strangle the Tamils. For Tamils, who have suffered unprecedented loss of life in recent times, it may appear to be so. But the matter does not appear to be so simple.

A highly respected Muslim elder, blamed some members of his community for these developments. He said, “Some Muslim politicians had the AGA’s office shifted into the Muslim area. The Tamil MP, instead of solving the problem by asking for the office in a common place, used that opportunity to carve out a separate Tamil AGA’s division. Left to the politicians, they would divide the communities for their own reasons. I fully agree that the hospital should be in a common area.”

But politicians as actors are also products of their social environment. Although the Muslims are numerically greater in the district and may therefore enjoy greater political clout, these developments cannot be viewed independently of the deep sense of insecurity harboured by Muslims. About the hospital, one Muslim responded, “In July 1990 the LTTE infiltrated through the Tamil area, passed the hospital and attacked people in the Mosque. How can the hospital be safe for Muslims?”

Until the Tamils distance themselves from the LTTE’s brand of politics, and adopt one that wins the trust of Muslims, division will progress to the discomfiture of both communities.

We record here with regret the passing of Syed Meera and Eastern Ibrahim, two leading citizens of Akkaraipattu respected by both communities. Mr. Meera was a retired school principal and member of the Peace Committee. Mr. Ibrahim, an activist in the Amparai District East Coast Farmers Association, tirelessly wrote articles decrying the idiocy of the current politics of division which had its advocates on both sides. We have been privileged to have the benefit of both their thoughts and criticism.[Top]

4.4 Kalmunai and surroundings

4.4.1 General

No reported disappearances in STF custody in recent months. The forces are said to be disciplined. Public relations - good. Those taken into custody are questioned and released quickly or are sent to detention centres in the South. The STF has camps in addition to Kalmunai at Karaitivu, and Periyanilawanai. A report on Sammanthurai is given in a separate chapter. The LTTE presence is mainly for extortion of money. Some Muslim businessmen are being held for ransom.

Tamil refugees are being progressively resettled in places from which they fled or were driven out during the second half of 1990. At least, the Tamils tend to believe that the STF is serious about providing them with security. Refugees have been returning to Sorikalmunai and Veeramunai from whence they were driven out in August & September 1990. The Tamils who fled from mixed or Sinhalese areas further west in the interior of Amparai district see no prospect of going back. Amparai town itself which had a Tamil Vidyalayam with over 600 Tamil children, is now, according to a leading Sinhalese resident, having only about 25 Tamil families.

Tamils generally seem to move around more freely than Muslims. A Muslim resident of Nintavur said that it is too risky for them to go into Karaitivu, citing an incident that took place some months ago. He said that a Muslim youth of Nintavur on returning from Saudi - Arabia went into Karaitivu to deliver a parcel from a Tamil colleague to his family. His corpse was recovered some days later. Over the last 2 ½ years there have been a number of stories of this kind from both sides. Both sides are in general agreement that the STF has tried to be impartial. A Muslim remarked that because the STF had in earlier years appeared to be pro-Muslim in tactically using Muslims to try to combat the Tamil insurgency, many Muslims see an impartial STF as being pro-Tamil. A Muslim intellectual from Kalmunai who had been close to  Tamils in both his personal and working life remarked, “As long as kidnapping, extortion and disappearance of Muslims result from the activities of Tamil militants, complete trust and friendship will be kept at bay”.[Top]

4.4.2 Refugees from 4th Colony, Central Camp:   

About 3800 refugees from this agricultural scheme are refugees in Kalmunai. 470 are camped north of Wesley College. 217 are with relatives. Following the massacre of policemen by the LTTE on 11th June 1990, these people were attacked by Sinhalese hoodlums, apparently with the backing of police and home - guards. 3 families were done to death. They believe that the attackers were not Sinhalese who were their neighbours from 3rd Colony to the west, but came from further interior. Several Sinhalese from 3rd Colony, they said, did help them. The LTTE did not operate in their area, they said. They seemed to place more trust in their Sinhalese neighbours in the 3rd Colony, than in their Muslim neighbours in the 5th Colony.

Although Kalmunai is 4 miles from Colony 4, these refugees had on 13th June 1990 first fled north to Mandur and reached Kalmunai on 20th August 1990 via Kallar.

Educational facilities in Colony 4 had been up to elementary level. Those going to higher levels had to come to Kalmunai. Their community had produced 3 university graduates, all of whom are working in the Kalmunai area.

The youths we spoke to felt that the STF was reasonable. The STF had done several round ups. Most of those detained were released in a day or two. They felt that when wrong information was given about persons, the STF has to do its duty in questioning them. There have been 5 long term detainees from among the Colony 4 refugees, they added. 3 were detained in 1991, 2 in 1992 and none so far in 1993.

The refugees were still anxious about returning to Colony 4, although the STF had offered them protection. The reason, they said, was that had there been any of their property to safeguard, they would have taken a risk and have gone there. But all their property had been either looted or destroyed. Many of them did go to Colony 4 during day time and return to Kalmunai for the night. But now with zero capital, they were in no hurry to go there and live. To do that they would wait until it was more patently safe.

4.5 Return of Tamils to areas from which they were desplaced

As mentioned earlier, few if any Tamils will return to once mixed or Sinhalese areas in the interior from which they fled. But no attempt has been made to move Sinhalese into abandoned Tamil villages - at least in the Amparai and Batticaloa districts. The STF has so far been encouraging Tamils to return to villages abandoned by them. This apparent reversal of policy seems to have taken place sometime in 1991. The survivors from Malwattai, now refugees in Thirukkovil and Karaitivu are expected to return. Pottuvil refugees who are now in Komari were to have returned, but are said to have been delayed by the massacres of Muslim bus passengers at Hulannuge in 1991 and between Komari and Pottuvil last year. It must also be remembered that about 200 Tamils in Pottuvil were killed by the forces in the wake of June 1990, most of them taken from a refugee camp. Consequently the situation was complicated by many youth joining the LTTE. Tamil government officers living in Komari, report for work in Pottuvil by day. Following the second bus massacre mentioned above, Muslims going from Akkaraipattu to Pottuvil have to take the circuitous route through Lahugala.

In Report No.8 we quoted senior STF sources as having said that there were ‘political’ reasons why the Tamils would not be encouraged to go back to several of the areas from which they were displaced. This only reflected what had been happening on the ground since June 1990. Whatever the reason for the change, if indeed it is the case as seems likely, it is to be welcomed. At this point of time, there does not appear to be a catch. The long term questions will be dealt with in chapter 6. The situation in Trincomalee is very different.[Top]

4.6 Batticaloa and environs

Speaking in general about the district, a senior member of the Batticaloa Peace Committee said, “We have had bad incidents in recent times as we have ever had, although numerically on a smaller scale. There have been murders and killing of civilians, passed off as killing of Tigers in action, and even rape. There is no accountability, no legal process. The same covering up machinery goes to work in the same manner when something happens. Almost anything that happened before could happen again.” [See Chapter 1]

Referring to arrests he said, “The situation earlier was that if 10were arrested 9 of them were never seen again. Now out of a 50 taken, generally all would be found. All releases of detainees are done through the Peace Committee and proper release papers are given. This minimises their chances of being harassed again. But beyond this there is much that is wrong. Every prisoner arrested is beaten. People are detained on very trivial charges and kept for ages, often without investigation or inquiry.”

Giving examples, he said, “A man who was an occupant of a refugee camp with a pregnant wife was detained. I repeatedly raised the matter with the Superintendent of Police, (now Senior Superintendent) causing him some annoyance. The wife went through a time of agony and a difficult caesarian without her husband’s support. On one occasion the wife was in hospital at an advanced stage of her pregnancy. She was then shocked to see her husband carried into the hospital by policemen. They had beaten him badly and were bringing him in for treatment. Once the SP arranged for the wife and her mother to be taken to prison to visit the husband. He was released 8 months later, no charge and no comment.

“There was a young man whose school friend joined the LTTE and was the bodyguard of an important leader. On his way to Colombo, the bodyguard called on the young man, spent the night at his house and went to Colombo the following day. Intelligence of this reached the army. The army asked the young man to report. The father first went to the army with the elder son and was turned back. He then went with the son-in-law and was turned back again. The third time he went with the young man concerned. The young man was kept for some time and beaten. When  released to the Peace Committee the young man came with his head swollen on one side. The officer releasing him was heard lecturing him, “The next time you will be punished more.”

“All this shows a latent tendency to lawlessness and that people have no right to check violations. The lives of young men continue to be ruined for no reason and out of sheer stupidity. Apart from this there have been several improvements. The release of persons is generally fast. Prisoners are no longer held in the Forestry Camp, which was known as Belsen. But in no instance is the family of a detainee informed of the arrest. When inquiries are made, the police could deny it for 3 to 5 days. They make the plea, which may be true only in very rare instances, that knowledge of an arrest may vitiate the utility of a piece of information divulged by the prisoner.

“Justice Soza who heads the Human Rights Task Force is helpful - but not everyone agrees. The HRTF provides us with lists of people in prisons. The Peace Committee has stopped going to the HRTF, as Justice Soza cannot spend much time in any one office. But we send all our complainants to the HRTF. The HRTF’s mandate is very narrow and it has no power to over-ride obfuscation by the forces.

“The public is not afraid of the forces as they used to be. I recently saw kids gathering around a traffic policeman in front of a school-something that has not happened for nearly 10 years. People are generally friendly with the police. I am sure the police have instructions to be courteous. It is all a bit like tales from the dark side. Suddenly an evil spirit appears like a dark hovering cloud, there is chaos and destruction. Then it vanishes and it is day again.”

The assessment is confirmed by many others. A young couple living on the edge of town saw a face appearing at the window and became anxious. Then came a voice saying, “We are the police, do not be afraid. We are only here to see that the Tigers do not come and harass you for money.” They later discovered that he was a Sinhalese policeman who speaks excellent Tamil.

Other sources said that persons could be detained either by the Police, The Counter Subversive Unit of the Police or by an unspecified group operating from Batticaloa Prisons under Major Zacky. If it is a normal police case the detainee would be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. The CSU need not produce a person for 2 months, and under the Emergency Regulations could hold a person under a detention order signed by the SP. Major Zacky appears to operate independently of both the army and the police. The army detaining someone would normally send him to one of the parties above. Major Zacky is said to have been the superior officer of the notorious Captain Munas. The latter is no longer in Batticaloa. It is common knowledge in Batticaloa that a well-known TULF party official was amid some fanfare escorted from his home for a colourful but harrowing interview with Major Zacky, after which he was escorted back home the same night. What role will this huge security apparatus play in future local party politics?[Top]

4.7. Interior Rice Fields of the Batticaloa District

The military operations going on here have been described in Chapter 3. While there have been some notably good officers the general character of these operations is callous and undisciplined. In several instances civilians have been shot virtually on sight, and there appears to be little effort at sparing civilians when setting up ambushes. In these areas the army and the STF have shown their familiar colours. Those familiar with the action in these parts tend to be distrustful of the relative calm in the Amparai District and in the towns. The good reputation the STF has recently acquired in the Amparai District is not subscribed to by people in these parts. There is a general belief that the killing increased after the STF came to Kaluwanchikudy.

Cultivation of fields involves several activities that need to be co-ordinated. When sowing starts, large landholders who normally live in towns, go to the fields set up cadjan wadis, supervise the fertilising and sowing and then return to town, leaving others to tend the fields. Small holders would normally  stay on and look after their own fields. Under these persons there would be their younger brothers or sons who tend to the cattle, milk them, and take part of the milk as wages. They also have to ensure that the cattle do not go into the fields of others. Cattle that stray into others’ fields are tied up and the matter is referred to the Vatta Vithanai who imposes a fine on the owner. It is said that during military operations,upon receiving intelligence that the army is coming, those in the fields run away. Then the cattle go out of control and cause much damage to the crops. An impression formed by people of that area is that the current military operations result from a deliberate plan to break the economy of the Batticaloa District - which is rice.

The matter does not appear to be so simple. A sizeable portion of the rice fields belong to Muslims in Kattankudy and Eravur who are unable to use them because of the LTTE threat. Eravur is almost totally dependent on agriculture, and its inhabitants, unable to earn a livelihood, have become destitute. Like many Tamils who imagine that the Muslims are having it awfully good, these poor Muslims trapped in their small villages imagine that the Tamils never had it better, since they are now able to cultivate their lands and supposedly acquire additional wealth. In their anger they accuse the Tamil people of cultivating the LTTE for this purpose. The legitimate complaints of these Muslims who are prevented from working have been voiced and the government was under pressure to respond in some way. There was also a feeling among the forces that the LTTE received a considerable boost from its control over the rice growing region.

A system of permits was recently enforced by the army to cultivate and transport rice. Those cultivating Muslim lands were thus obliged to seek permission from the owner and pay rent.

According to a cultivator from Munaikkadu, 25% of lands there belong to Muslim podiars in Kattankudy. Some of these lands, he said, are cultivated by persons paying rent to the Tigers. But those who are friendly with Muslims have regularised their cultivation by paying rent to Muslim owners. This has been corroborated by a spokesman in Kattankudy.

About the system of taxation by the Tigers, he had this to say: Rice is measured in the units of 1 Moodai = 12 Marakkal = 72 Koththu. 1 acre of land brings in about 30 Moodais of rice. The Tigers tax them at the rate of about 5 to 10 Marakkal for an acre (2 to 4%) for those owning more than 5 acres and Rs.50/- for a cow for those having more than 5 cows. There is no tax for those having 5 acres or less and for those with fewer than 6 cows.

He said that these taxes were not crippling, and were not unreasonable.

There is also little evidence of a centrally directed government plan to destroy the rice economy. Not all officers seemed to think that control over rice fields was crucial to the Tigers. It would have been operationally easier for the Tigers to leave cultivators alone and tax them   in cash after the harvest was disposed of. An officer in charge of a camp close to Kiran is well regarded in his area. On seeing people going with rice bags he tells them, “Take them carefully without spilling so that we cannot follow you. When you give the stuff to the Tigers, tell them that they could always come here without their weapons.”

The truth is that no one profits appreciably from these rice fields. The Muslims get nothing or little. Tamil cultivators go to the fields hoping to earn something rather than stay at home and receive rations if they happen to be displaced. In doing so they risk their lives for a pittance. Many of them have lost their crops during operations and a number of them their lives. In killing and driving Muslims to desperation the Tigers have killed a goose that laid the golden egg. If Muslim cultivators were out in the fields with their Tamil co-workers there would have been far greater pressure on the army not to disrupt cultivation through military operations. In the past the Tigers had received regular payments from Tamil cultivators and Eravur Muslims. The Tigers are now driven to harass and antagonise an impoverished population with little to give.[Top]


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