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Report 11



5.1 Sammanthurai

5.1.1 Introduction

5.1.2 The IPKF presence

5.1.3 The LTTE takes over

5.1.4 The war of June 1990:

Further incidents:

5.1.5 Comments by members of the Trustee Board on Special Report No.3

5.1.6 Colonisation and agriculture

5.2 Kattankudy

5.2.1 The FMMI Report

5.2.2 The demand for new AGA’s divisions

5.3 Eravur

5.4 Incidents affecting Muslims in the Batticaloa and Amparai Districts

5.1 Sammanthurai

5.1.1 Introduction

Sammanthurai is among the best organised of Muslim communities in the East. Its system of local government by its own democratically elected body, functioning also as the Board of Trustees of its religious institutions, is admired by surrounding villages. Each division elects is leaders who then choose their trustee board. The trustee board functions as the parliament. The parliament delegates functions to its members, which include judicial matters. The work is voluntary, and the working of the system requires persons willing to sacrifice much of their time. The parliament reflected the character of the village - portraying an air of dignity and generosity. The parliament wields considerable authority and has men of all ages.

The board of trustees was quick to point out the good relations they have traditionally maintained with neighbouring Tamil communities. When Karaitivu suffered from communal violence in 1985, the people of Sammanthurai sent lorry loads of supplies to Karaitivu. Mustaq Ali of Sammanthurai took custody of stray cattle belonging to owners in Karaitivu and handed them over to representatives from Karaitivu. Muslaq Ali was later killed by Tamil militants. They are also proud that Tamils who bring grievances against individual Muslims to their courts are given justice. They produced records where a Tamil, Rasiah, was in dispute with a Muslim over a piece of land. The law courts ruled in favour of the Muslim. Rasiah then resorted to the Sammanthurai tribunal. The latter ruled in favour of the complainant and ordered the Muslim to pay him Rs.70,000/-. In another case a Tamil complainant was awarded Rs.12,000/-, a part of which is recorded as having been settled.

We put down some points that came out of the discussion, together with facts from the book ‘Eelathil Innumoru Moolai’. Over the years there had been, it is said, a transfer of Tamil paddy lands to Muslims   for reasons discussed in Report No 7, some aspects of which are also dealt with in Chapter 6 of this report. This is an issue that played a role in misdirecting the militant struggle in the Eastern province. There had been a long series of armed provocations, humiliations and killings inflicted on Muslims. From the time of the arrival of the IPKF there had been killings of Muslims in ones, twos and threes in their homes and in paddy fields. Through all these the leaders point out, they restrained the people from taking reprisals.[Top]

5.1.2 The IPKF presence

On 25th March 1989 M.A. Mustaq Ali, a young graduate M.A.M.Yassin and B.A.C.M.M. Falil who were in conversation on the street were shot at by Tamil militants Jeeva and Asokan from Veeramunai. The first two were killed and Falil was crippled. Mustaq Ali was a brother of the MP, M.A.Abdul Majeed, known for his friendship with Tamils. Mustaq Ali had close friends in the forces including a senior army officer in Amparai, as a result of his being a sportsman together of his public school education. This appears to have marked him out as a target.

On 4th May 1989, two students, Najib and Pais, together with a van driver Jabar returning to Sammanthurai were shot dead by Tamil militants. They were of a party of students who had passed their O.Levels and had gone out to a scenic place to make a video of a drama promoting communal harmony, to be released at the coming religious festival. While returning after filming, the party was waylaid and attacked by Tamil militants killing the three above. Others in the party were stabbed or injured. The militants had accused them of having gone out for military training and are believed to have been drunk. The camera-man, a Tamil from Karaitivu, was spared.

When complaints were made to the IPKF, it was mostly indifferent or blamed the incident on the LTTE.

The incident of 14th May 1989 was decisive in discrediting the IPKF . B.M. Salim was in his tractor ploughing the field of M.A.Adam Bawa in Neyankadu. The latter was standing by. Four militants, including Karthigesu and Periyathamby, came with SLR rifles and two of them drove the tractor away to Karaitivu. The two Muslims were shot dead at 6.00a.m. On the 16th some Muslim youths disregarded the counsel of restraint, went to the fields and beat to death two lonely Tamils, including a Vattavithanai.

On the 17th at 2.00 p.m. the TELO leader Jana came into Sammanthurai in a Pajero jeep belonging to the provincial council with 13 well armed youths. They began assaulting civilians to the screams of women. A few minutes later there was wild firing from automatics. People ran amidst panic. Five Muslims were injured in the incident. Among the attackers were Asokan, Jeevan and Pathman from the TELO.

In the meantime Tamils in the enclave of Veeramunai had taken refuge in schools and temples. A group of Muslims who went there returned after setting fire to a cowshed and a haystack. Another group going to the Tamil division set fire to 4 out of 19 houses. The families in those houses were given protection by Muslims including Salman, T.A. Allilebbe and Sulthar.

From 5.00 p.m that evening the IPKF came in a large number of vehicles along the Mandur, Sorikalmunai, Savalakadai Road, and sealed off Sammanthurai with armoured vehicles at junctions. The story also spread that a large number of Tamil militants had arrived with guns. In the night Muslim houses in divisions 4 and 5 were looted and set on fire, the goods being taken along the Sorikalmunai Rd. Shortly after mid-night sounds of gun shots, automatic fire and mortar shells were heard. I.H.Mohamed and A.Adam Bawa were killed in the incident.

Muslims in Sammanthurai sought refuge in 17 refugee camps. People fled from the neighbouring Muslim settlements of Cherman Vattai, Malgampitty, Nainakadu, Hyauththu Nabi Kudi, Hijrahpuram and Eththalaikkulam seeking refuge in Nintavur and Sainthamaruthu. These   villages which were looted and destroyed remain uninhabited to this day.

On 29th May, S.H.F.Fareed (University of Jaffna), S.Adambawa and Y.C.Mohideen were shot dead in the night at Mavadippalli. From 21st to 31st May, 4 Muslims were abducted and killed. It was at this time that President Premadasa called for a withdrawal of the IPKF and the LTTE expressed its sorrow at the incident and called for an inquiry.

On 29th July, the IPKF left the area after leaving the newly formed Tamil National Army, made of conscripts and led by other militant groups, in charge. Acts of violence against Muslims continued, with 4 deaths up to 17th Novemeber. At this time the IPKF had withdrawn from the Amparai District and was at Periya Nilawanai. The TNA entered the Karaitivu Police station on the pretext of a search, disarmed them, sent away the Tamil policemen, made 42 Muslim reserve police constables lie on the ground and shot them dead. Only 3 survived.[Top]

5.1.3 The LTTE takes over

The TNA’s exit and the LTTE’s arrival were for a start welcomed by the Muslims. The LTTE set up offices and promised that there would be justice and that in future there would be no room for corruption, killings or misgovernment. Complaints were dealt with promptly and severely with beatings and torture. But when killings of Muslims were reported, the standard reply was that the remnants of the TNA were responsible. There was no let up in murder and robbery.

On 14th January 1990 Ameer Ali(20) was killed in the fields and so was A.L.Meera Lebbe 4 days later. No action was taken. On the other hand Muslim youth continued to be taken away for interrogation and torture on the suspicion of possessing arms. A hunt was launched for the official body guards of legally elected provincial council members. At 12.30 noon on 30th January, the home of provincial council member M.Y.M Mansoor was surrounded. He was shot below the hip and taken away in a poor state after a brief call at Kalmunai hospital where no medical attention was given. What became of him is not known to this day. Another P.C. member M.Z.M. Kariapper narrowly escaped although his house was surrounded.[Top]

5.1.4 The war of June 1990:

During the massacre of policemen at Rufus Kulam by the LTTE of 11th June 1990 five policemen from Sammanthurai (A.M.Ameer Ali, M.M.Haniffa, U.Salim, A. Abdul Jaffer, and M.Y.M. Hassim) were among the victims. The Sri Lankan forces came into Sammanthurai on 14th June.

The elders refute the charge that the Muslims in any planned manner used the occasion of the army’s entry for revenge against Tamils. They point out that 4 Muslims were among those killed and burnt when the Sri Lankan army set about its orgy. One of them was a deaf electrician. The Tigers continued to be in the surroundings. On the night of 20th July A.S. Mohamed Hadjiaar , the LTTE’s only Muslim nominee for the still born interim council of September 1987 together with his friend Mohideen Hadjiaar were shot dead in the former’s home. Though close to the Tigers Mohamed Hadjiaar is said to have quarrelled bitterly with the Tigers over the shooting on 30th January of M.Y.M.Mansoor, M.P.C.. The following day six were shot dead in the fields.

On 23rd July 1990, there were in the night breaking noises and small explosions in the house next to the former LTTE office. People took refuge in the mosque. A little later Sundaram, Sinnavan, Raju, Sarachchandran and their leader Kumar entered the mosque and opened fire. They left shooting when the army returned fire from a long distance. Two men S.M.I.Haji and M.B.Aliyar were killed in the mosque. Two men, five women and a child were injured. A further two were injured outside. On 25th July 3 farmers were killed on the way to their fields.

On 12th August 1990, 8 labourers with the driver were going in a tractor towards Chalambakkerni in connection with harvesting rice. They were confronted by gunmen who proceeded to knife them. 4 were killed and 5 escaped with injuries.

When the injured got back to Sammanthurai, they named some youths from Veeramunai as being among the attackers. An angry crowd rushed to the temple and the school in Veeramunai where Tamils from the same village and those living in other surrounding villages had taken refuge. This led to the tragedy reported in Special Report No.3 .

The elders stated that this was the first time following a long series of provocations that Muslims had laid hands on people in Veeramunai. As provocations they cited the role of youths from Veeramunai and the Tamil enclaves of Sammanthurai in the humiliations and killings they had endured during the IPKF presence and subsequently, the attackers in the incident of 17th May 1989 using the communication system at the Veeramunai temple to give instructions to their cadre, widespread reports of goods looted from Muslims in Tamil houses and the appearance of Tamils having had foreknowledge of some attacks (e.g.23rd July 1990). Even so, they said, they had repeatedly urged restraint and given shelter to Tamils when there was danger. On 17th May 1989, given the severe nature of the provocation, the elders, with some good fortune, had ensured that not one Tamil was hurt. Indeed even on the 12th August 1990, they said, things happened before anyone could assert control. Some of the elders had contacted the forces in an attempt to get them to intervene.

One elder contested a point in Special Report No.3 cited as suggesting connivance of the armed forces with the attackers on 12th August. He said that the forces’ vehicle mentioned was going in search of those who had attacked the farmers and not to monitor the attack on the temple. He added that he had been at the police station in connection with the first incident and had seen no signs of police connivance with the second incident.

They also said that the looting of Tamil property had been done largely by the forces, and the goods carried away in lorries to Amparai.Whatever remained was left unattended, and as far as was within their means they had discouraged looting. They said that they had never stood in the way of the Tamil struggle, having provided material help and refuge for all groups before the IPKF arrived. Subsequently the LTTE had received help from certain villagers.[Top]

Further incidents:

Two farmers on 3rd September 1990 and two on 20th Novemeber lost a leg each as the result of anti-personnel mines placed by the LTTE in their rice fields. On 20th May 1991 the LTTE fired on farmers returning after sowing their fields, killing 9 farmers and injuring two. Six were killed on 8th August 1991.

5.1.5 Comments by members of the Trustee Board on Special Report No.3

One member observed that even Tamils who are critical of the extremism of the Tigers, in the final analysis, support the main nationalist trends in Tamil politics. This, he said, mars their objectivity when it comes to the specific questions and dilemmas confronting Muslims. The report in question, he added, falls deeper into this morass as it progresses.

They said that it was wrong as alleged in the report that leading citizens of Sammanthurai had cultivated the LTTE. In fact when LTTE leaders Yogi, Karuna and Karikalan came there, (early 1990 or December 89) they had made it clear where they stood. At a public meeting, their respected elder, Al Haj Moulavi M.B.Aliyar, had told them, “The Muslims do not oppose the Tamil struggle, nor would stand in the way of Tamil aspirations. Life was given to man by Allah. It is therefore his, and not man’s to take. Do not kill and repeat what other Tamil groups did”. This was said in response to a speech by an LTTE leader who pointed to their cyanide capsules as symbols of greatness and authority.

The motor cycle received by the local LTTE leader Kumar was not given to them by the citizens of Sammanthurai, but was purchased with tax imposed on goods sold by the local MPCS.

As another instance of their restraint and generosity, they said that the TNA on 17th October 1989 had killed 39 policemen from Sammanthurai. But as the LTTE advanced shortly afterwards, several TNA conscripts on the run had come helpless into Sammanthurai. The Sammanthurai folk had safely conducted them to Veeramunai.

A total of 132 citizens of Sammanthurai had been killed from 1984 up to August 1991 : 7 before the IPKF arrived, 65 during the IPKF presence (39 killed by the TNA on 17.11.89), 6 during the period of LTTE control, 6 policemen in the LTTE massacre of 11th June 1990, and 48 during the current war-mostly farmers working in paddy fields.[Top]

5.1.6 Colonisation and agriculture

It was pointed out that Sammanthurai faced considerable anxieties from state aided colonisation of Sinhalese. The late minister, Cyril Mathew, in his infamous book had designated Sammanthurai on his map as a site for a Buddhist vihare.

7000 acres of land belonging to citizens of Sammanthurai were acquired by the state for sugar cultivation and were subsequently given over to Sinhalese. About 5 years ago 750  3 acre plots in Thottachlinungi, Puthukkadu, belonging to people in Sammanthurai were acquired by the state.

They also had difficulties because those managing the irrigation of water to their fields were not directly accountable to them.Water which should have been released to them on 7th January was released considerably later. This meant that farmers in Mandur, 30 miles further down the channel, would have faced further delays. [More on the crucial water resources in Special Report No.3 ]

5.1.7 Note: We do not dispute any of the facts given to us by the elders of Sammanthurai. Nor do we doubt their generosity and goodwill. Our conclusion in Special Report No.3 of the passive, if not active, connivance of the forces in the attack on Veeramunai of 12th August 1990 was largely based on three pieces of testimony from a number of witnesses. The STF did not intervene for about 1 hour after the attack commenced-an event marked by gun shots and screams. When the STF came there was no attempt to apprehend the attackers. The attackers left casually, apparently exchanging signs of acquaintance with the STF. As a rule people who have suffered in this manner do not sit together and invent stories. In our experience no victim of violence has tried to mislead us, although they may shield certain facts.

It is a general fact of life in the East that Tamils are sceptical about reports of suffering by Muslims, while the reverse also holds. What the people of Sammanthurai underwent over more than 5 years is a moving story that should be made known to Tamils. Death has come to other communities, both Tamil and Muslim, in greater number. But Sammanthurai’s is a story of constant terror over several years, waiting for the unknown, not knowing whether someone going to the fields would return - a state of affairs shared particularly by Eravur and some of the interior Tamil villages.

The book ‘Eelathil innumoru moolai’ was written with a feeling of helplessness. A feeling that a people who are generous, cultured and had organised their life exemplarily, after the way in which they had suffered were being portrayed in a manner that was careless and insensitive. But once this feeling of being unfairly treated cools, they might like to re-examine some of the judgements in the book. There is a tendency to collectively accuse the Tamils around of planning the destruction of Sammanthurai and being party to several acts of violence against Sammanthurai.

The fact that Tamil families in the vicinity of the mosque, left their goods with Muslims and went away a few hours before the mosque was attacked by the LTTE on 23rd July 1990 is treated as a strong suggestion that they were party to the plan. Perhaps they may have sensed that it may not be good to hang around. By what the LTTE did, they had everything to lose-from their homes, their goods and their livelihood. They could have hardly approved of the LTTE’s action. They too were living in fear. 250 Tamil youth were picked up by the forces, who then disappeared. Like the question of the land mine planted in front of one’s house, there is always a dilemma whether to tell or not to tell. There is danger both ways. Reconciliation finally means that both parties have to accept their human weaknesses and open their hearts and minds to each other. [Top]

5.2 Kattankudy

5.2.1 The FMMI Report

It is now more than two years since we established direct contact with Kattankudy and followed up the course of events from about June 1990. Our attention keeps getting drawn to the question of how it all began by the people themselves. Trying to say anything about it is tantamount to entering a minefield. In Report No.5 we published a Tamil account of the events of the night of 22nd April 1985 associated in Tamil minds with the call to arms from the mosque followed by Muslims marching towards Manjathoduwa to confront Tamils in positions at the border. At the head of the procession the Tamils reported seeing a police armoured car with blue lights flashing, associated with a special unit of the Sri Lankan constabulary, whose task was to drive a permanent wedge between the Tamils and the Muslims. The Tamil defenders no doubt were convinced that they were protecting their own community. Muslim accounts are equally clear that their young men marched with sundry weapons to confront Tamils with sundry weapons, to defend what was theirs. They clashed, buildings and properties were torched, several on both sides were injured and both sides went back, each acclaimed a hero of his and a villain of the other’s. About 14 civilians from both communities were killed during the incidents.

If this incident was a tragic farce, events took a graver turn as time went by. We cannot and will not try to do full justice to the incident. It should have been the subject of an independent commission of inquiry at that time. The state deliberately created a vacuum in the East to further its own machinations by destroying the process of the law, that was the basis of a common community life for the diverse peoples of the East. This vacuum has become worse with time. Each local community had its affairs governed by an ethnic citizens’ committee to fill a local role in the kind of situation associated with Lebanon. Each citizens’ committee faithfully recorded the losses and injury to members of its own community and appealed to the external powers that be to right its perceived wrongs. This is sadly true of all citizens’ groups whether Tamil or Muslim. The demand for division and subdivision has assumed a life of its own, with new AGAs divisions demanded by both communities on the grounds that each is at a disadvantage in its administrative unit if the AGA or the chief clerk is from the other community.

Likewise, as Tamil associations have done, the Federation of Muslim Mosques and Institutions of Kattankudy submitted to the Working Group of the UNCHR a report in October 1991. Besides facts and statistics, it gives the Muslim angle on several events. It tells us that in the months running up to 22nd April 1985, the Kattankudy Muslims, a trading community, were subject to a series of robberies by Tamil militants which created an atmosphere of provocation. The week preceding 22nd April had been a tense one and each community was expecting something to happen. It thus becomes plausible that the call from the mosque had a strong defensive component. On the Tamil side, there was nervousness because of tensions in the Amparai District.

Another major event during the IPKF presence, was the LTTE ‘s massacre of Muslims in Kattankudy about New Year 1988, after one Muslim member of the LTTE was killed. The FMMI report gives us names of 85 Muslims killed. Tamil sources said that six Tamil labourers were killed during this time by home guard elements.

The report gives details of loss of life and property among Muslims of Kattankudy from 1985 to October 1991 and gives us an insight into their feelings of alienation and anxiety: 1985-20 lives lost due to violence, 1986-10, 1987/88-85, 1989-10, 1990-222 (Kurukkalmadam massacre-72, Mosque massacres-104). 1991(up to October)-22, Isolated cases and abductions-10, Total-379.

Some of these incidents were accompanied by reprisal violence against Tamils, though on a much smaller scale. The   first thing to remember about Kattankudy is that its people had no nationalist or separatist agenda. Its community leadership was strongly influenced by traders who had their trading interests in Batticaloa town. Moreover those owning fields outside the village had to depend on Tamil labour and supervision. The community leadership are realists and are the last people to want quarrels with Tamils. Like other Muslim communities in the East they had time and again demonstrated that they do not share the agenda of the state and have quickly moved to defuse friction with Tamils. Muslim violence has generally been a response to hopelessness in the face of rising provocation.

There is a qualitative difference between Tamil and Muslim casualties. The former are mostly victims of the Sri Lankan forces who are perceived as outsiders. A significant number were also victims of internecine killings. The 379 Muslims killed in Kattankudy were nearly all killed by their Tamil bretheren who hope to dominate a political entity in which Muslims have to live. This is a serious complication.

When prominent Tamil and Muslim citizens meet after an incident it was usually a matter of you control your boys and we will control ours? Batticaloa town had many times more articulate and professional men than Kattankudy. Their citizens’ committee (now the peace committee) has compiled and circulated highly professional reports on violations against Tamils from the mid-80s. Why they failed to include the neighbouring Muslims as part of their work and make them feel a part of the community is something we cannot answer. But it represents a historic failure of nation building. The less sophisticated Muslims have felt unrepresented. Out of necessity they have been pushed into producing reports of the same genre-something they learnt from Tamil citizens’committees. The logic of “you control your boys and we will control ours” is being pushed to its logical conclusion with all its depressing contradictions.[Top]

5.2.2 The demand for new AGA’s divisions

The FMMI report reproduces a request of October 1990 calling for the number of AGA’s divisions in the district to be increased from 10 to 15 with the number of Muslim AGAs divisions increased from 1 to 4.

With regard to Muslims living in Tamil dominated divisions the complaints are familiar: A lack of Muslim representation in the administration and hence decisions taken unilaterally to their disadvantage; Obstruction of additional residential areas for Muslims necessitated by population increase; & Difficulty in obtaining a fair share of relief during times of natural disaster or civil commotion.

An example it gives is that all income generating government investment has been sited in Tamil areas: eg 1. Tile factory (Karadiyanaru) 2.Milk processing centre(Chenkalady), 3. Government press (Kumburumoolai)   4. Fisheries Harbour (Pethalai) 5. Paddy Processing Plant (Kaluwankerny) 6. Industrial Estate (Saturukondan).

Some of these complaints are valid, while others are more complex. The last example does not represent straightforward discrimination. Traditionally the Muslims have lived in small enclaves and have had their economic life outside these. The problem is thus one of whether Muslims are guaranteed access and participation in these ventures rather than whether they are sited in a Muslim or Tamil area. If one follows this logic, one gets mired in petty ventures like having a post office each for Eravur and Chenkalady, when a common one would do, so that there would be one Muslims post master and one Tamil post master. In Akkaraipattu, a relatively small town, they are on course to have a Tamil hospital and a Muslim hospital. Again the economic life of the two communities is so integrated that carving out ethnic administrative divisions will result in friction.

We have argued that much of this is the result of the Tamils failing to give confidence to the Muslims and made worse by anti-Muslim violence. Finally the state is placed in the position of the monkey dividing the cake.[Top]

5.3 Eravur

Eravur’s troubles began in 1985 well before the current war, when tensions between Muslims and Tamil militants first broke out. Then 35 Muslim farmers from Eravur working in the fields at Kommathurai and Illuppadichchenai were attacked and killed by Tamil militants according to local sources. At Karuvacholai 9 farmers with their hands tied were shot and killed on the lagoon shore. The party bringing their bodies for burial about 6.00 p.m was fired at while passing Arumugaththan Kudi, where one was injured. This was followed by rioting.

Muslim farmers from the following outlying villages (all within 12 miles of Eravur) fled to Eravur leaving their houses and property. These villages are: Mavadi-Odai, Veppa-Vedduwan, Kasar-Kudah, Illuppadichchenai, Kokku-Thangia-Madu, Kooththuchchenai, Rugam, Oorugamam, Thumpavan Cholai, Koppaveli, Sivaththa-Bokkadi(Red Bridge), Pavatkodichchenai, Sillikudiaru and Komparchenai. Several mosques were attacked. Koppaveli Pallivasal(Mosque) was damaged. Muslims have since then abandoned these villages, populated either exclusively by Muslims or together with Tamils, resulting in the displacement of 500 families. To date it is only in Rugam that Muslims have returned. The families then displaced account for about 5% of the population of Eravur. Peace was then restored after intensive efforts by their leaders Dawood and Rahuman. But the end result was a certain economic impoverishment.

Following the outbreak of the current war, both impoverishment and loss of life were unprecedented. [See Report No.7 for an account of the massacre of 12th August 1990]. By 12th August 1990, 130 persons had been killed. This resulted in 41 widows, 7 widowers and 146 children who lost a parent. Of the dead 61 were females. 12 families of 23 persons were wiped out. 27 children were orphaned. Further to this 130,36 persons were abducted and are now missing, bringing the dead to 166. Another 43 were badly injured.

The number killed or missing since the 12th August is placed at about 180 by leading citizens of Eravur bringing the total to over 300. 11 of those massacred at Allichipotanai in the Polonnaruwa district last May (1992) were settlers from Eravur, adding further to the refugee influx into Eravur. Many of those killed since 12th August 1992 have been travellers or farmers, bringing economic activity to a virtual standstill. The border areas of the village have also been abandoned. The strain on the infrastructure of the village is thus considerable.

According to community elders 9000 acres of paddy land belonging to the village are inaccessible to them. Such was the anger and helplessness that many villagers accuse Tamils of using the LTTE to acquire produce from Muslim lands in addition to 40,000 of their cattle. They also feel that Western aid agencies have given them step-motherly treatment. Moreover what is happening on the international scene adds to the general Muslim suspicion of all Western organisations.

Unlike Tamils, they added, they are prisoners for all but 3 days of the week when army pickets are on the trunk road. Even then they pay higher fares to travel in vehicles that take Muslims - Rs20/- to Batticaloa and Rs 100/- to Colombo.

Attacks by the LTTE, they said, have almost stopped in recent months. There was much talk of overtures from the LTTE. But the massacre near Polonnaruwa of 15th October 1992, which took them by surprise, brought a new sense of despair.[Top]

5.4 Incidents affecting Muslims in the Batticaloa and Amparai Districts

2nd April 1992: Sathurukondan:

LTTE cadre in mufti, with grenades but without guns stopped the Batticaloa bound train a few miles short of Batticaloa about mid-day. The Muslim passengers (mostly going on to Kattankudy) were ordered to alight. Tamil passengers blocked the entrance and pleaded with the LTTE cadre to leave the Muslims alone. The LTTE left, their plans thwarted.

2nd June 1992: Between Komari & Pottuvil:

A bus with both Tamil and Muslim passengers plying between Akkaraipattu and Pottuvil was stopped by armed LTTE cadre. The Tamil passengers were asked to alight. All of the Tamils alighted except Rajakulendran, a government officer in Pottuvil. Rajakulendran stood at the entrance refusing to get down and pleading with the would-be-assailants to spare the Muslims. The LTTE opened fire killing Rajakulendran and 19 Muslims who were in the bus.

Since then the bus service has ceased. Muslims travelling between Pottuvil and Akkaraipattu have to take a much longer and expensive route rather than the direct coast road. Tamil government officers who are refugees in Komari, cycle to Pottuvil for work and return by nightfall.

5 days after the incident above, on Sunday 7th June, two persons from Komari and a Pottuvil refugee in Komari disappeared. This is believed to be the work of the STF. The first two were close relatives of LTTE cadre.

It has also been said by local sources that Rajakulendran had a quarrel with the late Pottuvil school principal Mr. John. Mr.John disappeared in July 1990 after being abducted by the police in Pottuvil. [See Special Report No.3 ].   John’s widow’s brother was a local  LTTE leader at the time of the incident above. Muslims later issued hand bills expressing their appreciation of Rajakulendran’s sacrifice.

15th July 1992:Kirankulam (Ambalanthurai Junction,near Kurukkalmadam):

A Muslim reconciliation party with others were travelling south early in the morning from Kattankudy to Maruthamunai, with a motorcycle and a bus following.The reconciliation party of relatives visited Kattankudy to mend relations between an estranged couple. The van was stopped by gunmen at Kirankulam. The driver reversed at full speed. The motorcyclist, left his motorcycle and got into the van. The gunmen opened fire. The driver escaped by rolling off the van into a roadside pool. One ran and warned the bus and was injured while so doing.

19 died in the massacre-13 from Kattankudy and 6 from Maruthamanai.Among the dead was an expectant mother, Aliyar Thovfeeka(31), from   Maruthamunai. Her husband, a native of Kattankudy, with whom she was to be reconciled, had travelled to Maruthamunai earlier. Among the dead were Seeni Mohamed Jaseema(18) and her brother seeni Mohamed Naleem(4) from Kathankidy, and Sahu Ibrahim Sameera(10) and her brother Sameer(5) from Maruthamunai. Five adult women and five elderly men were among the dead.   

The Muslims of Maruthamunai, a trading community consistently well disposed to Tamils, became restive. The STF acted fast, called a meeting of town elders, and brought the situation under control by telling them that ordinary Tamils were not responsible for the outrage.

At Kattankudy, the police acted effectively and stopped the beating of Tamils by some Muslims. When some Muslim youth stoned the police, the army was called in, and order was restored.

Even among Muslims doubts persisted as to who was responsible for the massacre. There was some suspicion that the TELO was responsible. Other sources said that the scene of the massacre was one frequented by the LTTE and the TELO would never have gone that way before 8.00 A.M.

They point out that the LTTE had robbed several motor-cycles there at gun-point. A judge’s escort vehicle was blown up near there. Kurukkalmadam, where Muslims were massacred by the LTTE in July 1990, is also in that area. Furthermore, on the very day of the incident, about mid-day, school children saw about 75 armed LTTE cadre casually pass that way.

21st July 1992: Siththandy:

Late in the morning, the Colombo bound train was stopped by armed LTTE cadre. Once more the Muslim passengers were ordered to alight. The Tamil passengers stood at the doors and pleaded with the LTTE , advancing a variety of arguments from the moral to the purely practical (What would then happen to the Tamils when the train reached Valaichenai (a largely Muslim area)?). A game of brinkmanship went on with the LTTE coming up to the doors and making threatening gestures from one side of the train.The passengers started running away as a mixed group from the other side. The LTTE followed and opened fire at a group of Muslims who were exposed. 9 were killed of whom 3 were from Kattankudy. Among the dead were Salim and Siddik from Eravur. Among the victims from Kathankudy was Mohamed Yoosuff Abdul Haneff(42), father of 5 and deputy principal of Kathankudy Central High School.

25th July-November 1992:

5 fishermen from Kattankudy abducted at sea and believed to have been murdered on 25th July. The victims were H.M.H.Mohamed (50), A.A.Gaffoor (32), M.I.A.Rahaman (40), M.L.M Fareed (23) and A.Ayub Khan (25).Mohamed Cassim, boy of 19 and a cattle dealer was murdered at Kankeyan-Odai, Kattankudy on 18th August. A TV set with a bomb planted inside was handed over to an electrical repair shop in Batticaloa owned by a Kattankudy man on 28th October 1992. One repairman, Alliyar Thajudeen(22), was killed when the bomb exploded. The police are holding two Tamil boys who had allegedly confessed to planting the bomb.

26th December 1992: Meyankalkulam, North of Valaichenai:

Five persons travelling in a Maruti jeep were killed in a land-mine explosion close to the army camp at Meyankalkulam. The dead are Y.B.Ahamed Lebbe(47), Additional G.A. Batticaloa; A.K. Uthman, AGA Valaichenai-Oddaimavadi Muslim Division, M.Meera Mohideen(47), Attorney at law; S.A.M.Mahmood JP, School principal & the driver S.Mahendran. The party was on its way to the Mahaweli settlement scheme at Rididenna Jayanthia in Uthman’s official vehicle.

Ahamed Lebbe BA, SLEAS was a leading educationist, writer and was next in line to become Government Agent, Batticaloa. Uthman was the first university graduate from Meera-Odai, Mohideen was a part-time lecturer at the Ceylon Law College in addition to his normal practice and was formerly a leading member of the SLMC. Mahmood was a poet of distinction. Among the dead were foremost Muslim citizens of the area-adding fuel to a widespread belief among Muslims that Tamil groups were systematically eliminating Muslim leaders.Extracts from the writings of Ahamed Lebbe representing his wide interests are given in Appendix I.

J.L.M. Mustafa of Oddaimavady writing in the January issue of ‘Muslim Kadchi’ raises the point that the mine explosion took place near an army camp on a day when troops were picketing the roads. But S.L.M. Haniffa writing in ‘Sari Nihar’ of January - February reports that the killers had withdrawn through the jungle, killing on the way a wood-cutter Shahul Hameed. This, if correct, points fairly decisively to the LTTE . (The report of the Daily New’s Batticaloa correspondent (28/12) described Hameed as a passer-by who was also killed in the blast.)

Ravindra Wickremasinghe writing in the ‘Island’ of 27/12 quotes military sources as believing that the intended target was an army vehicle that had gone that way a few minutes earlier. This, if wrong, and the intended targets were the Muslim officials, raises, as Mustafa points out, some difficult questions. He says that in Oddimavadi, where the vehicle was parked, the mission of the government officers was widely known the previous day. But Oddimavadi is almost entirely a Muslim area. A commission, now inquiring into these deaths, will in time throw more light on the incident. However both Muslim writers quoted are convinced that the officials were the targets. A number of GAs(4), Additional GAs(2), AGAs (more than five), all Muslim, Sinhalese and Tamil, have been killed in the North-East since 1985.[Top]


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