Tamil Information Centre
User Name:   
Password:   
  Remember Me  
Sign up  |  Forget password
Home   
Search
    Contact us
Reclaiming Sinhalese settlement rights in Tamil dominated Jaffna
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Sunday)

By P K Balachandran

Supported by the Sri Lankan government machinery, Sinhala nationalist outfits and Buddhist monks from Colombo, a  group of 57 Sinhalese families from South Lanka have settled in Navatkuli in the Tamil-majority North Lankan district of Jaffna in a determined bid to reclaim their rights  there in the teeth of opposition from the Tamil political parties.

It was in late 2009, following the end of Eelam War IV, that the then government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa took the decision to aggressively push for Sinhalese resettlement in the North to nullify the Tamil militants’ policy of fashioning a mono-ethnic Northern province as a prelude to the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam. But the Tamils opposed Sinhalese settlements in the North on the grounds that they were planned, politically motivated,  colonization programs meant to alter the ethnic ratio there. 

Initially, 60 Sinhalese families from various parts of South Lanka were brought in buses and dumped at the disused railway station at Navatkuli, near Jaffna town. As the migrants were promised land and houses, 135 other families also made a beeline to Navatkuli.

“It took three months for us to move out of the railway station and it was only a year later that we were given plots of land. But we readily bore the inconvenience of living in squalor in a crumbling railway station and makeshift accommodation because this was our mann (land), our rightful heritage,” said Malkanthi Wickremesinghe, the leader of the group.

Middle aged Malkanthi was the natural leader of the group. Big made, bold and bilingual,, she also  came from a family which had lived for eight generations in Jaffna.

“Our family had roots in Maniyamthottam and Kankesanthurai and I knew Jaffna district like the back of my hand,” she told Express at her house in the Sinhala Colony which now boasts of an impressive Buddhist temple.

Malkanthi’s family, along with several hundreds of other Sinhalese families, was  driven out by the Tamil militants in 1984, in the first of two major acts of ethnic cleansing, the second being in 1990.

“At that time there was a fairly large Sinhalese community in Jaffna. The Jaffna Sinhala Vidhyalaya had 250 students. Life was pleasant with the Tamils and Sinhalese getting along like family,” she recalled.  

But the thought of going back to Jaffna never left the Sinhalese.

“We were forever yearning to breathe the air of Jaffna and drink its water. We were people of this soil. We could never abandon it. I remember when I returned after the war, I burst out crying!” Malkanthi said.

Tamil Leaders Oppose

But soon, local Tamil politicians S.Sritharan and Suresh Premachandran dubbed the return of the Sinhalese as government-sponsored Sinhala colonization aimed at making the Tamils a minority in the North. Demonstrations were organized against the settlers. Malkanthi took them on, but her plea that the settlers were not aliens but former residents of Jaffna, fell on deaf ears.

The Tamils‘ anger stemmed from the fact that President Rajapaksa had begun re-settling the Sinhalese even as 300,000 Tamils were still languishing as refugees in camps. The government was still holding on to their lands seized during the war.  As many as 12,000 acres of Tamils’ lands in the North and East had been seized by the military.

But in Malkanthi’s view, only the Tamil politicians had objected to their resettlement. The people did not.

“There are 500 Tamil families around us. They were happy that we were back. Some of them had been family friends earlier. When we were living in the railway station, even the Hindu Kovil Iyer priest used to send us food parcels,” she said.

Malkanthi is the interface between the Sinhalese returnees and the local Tamil community.

“I am an active participant in community activities. I share the local Tamils’ joys and sorrows. In turn, they look after me as if I am their own,” she said pointing to Mohanan, a young Tamil who drops in frequently from Jaffna town to inquire about her welfare. Mohanan’s mother and Malkanthi were neighbors and best friends 30 years ago.

Confronts Wigneswaran

 Since Northern Province Chief Minister C.V.Wigneswaran kept harping on “planned Sinhalese colonization”, Malkanthi decided to confront him.

“I barged into his study and insisted that he hear me out.  He relented and when I finished, he admitted that he had been misled and promised not to raise the issue again” she claimed.

Sure enough, over time, opposition to the Sinhalese’s presence at Navatkuli has faded. This is probably because the Maithripala Sirisena government started to give back lands seized from the Tamils in 2015. Out of the 12,000 acres seized by the military, 3,300 acres have been returned, till date.

The other reason is that the number of Sinhalese living in Navatkuli has dwindled. Out of the 57 families which were allotted plots in Navatkuli, only 23 families actually live there permanently.

“There is a water shortage which discourages permanent settlement,” Malkanthi said.

 

Share on Facebook


 Latest 25 News/ பிந்திய 25 செய்திகள்:
Tamil Information Centre (TIC) expresses grief over brutal, cowardly attacks on churches and other places in Sri Lanka
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Monday)
அனுபவம் மிக்க சிரேஸ்ட தொகுப்பாளர் N.T Jegan அவர்களோடு info4tamils இணைய வழி தொலைக்காட்சியினூடக கண்காட்சி பற்றிய கலந்துரையாடல்
பிரசுரிக்கபட்ட திகதி: 19/06/2016 (வியாழக்கிழமை)
இலங்கைத் தமிழர்கள்: காலவரையறையற்றதொரு பாரம்பரியம் என்ற கண்காட்சிதொடர்பான தமிழ் தகவல் நடுவத்தின் (TIC) உத்தியோகபூர்வ அறிக்கை
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
கண்ணீர் அஞ்சலி
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
Report reveals bone samples belong to 1499-1719 AD era
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Monday)
Northern Province’s Economic Development Framework
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Monday)
OMP welcomes inclusion of its interim relief proposals in budget
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Monday)
Raghavan to take public concerns to UNHrc
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
Jaffna to get Olympic-standard aquatic complex
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
Treat women and girls with respect - EDITORIAL
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
Vandalizing archaeological sites - Cabinet approves upping fines, jail terms
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
Right time to abolish executive presidency - JVP
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
International Court Of Justice & The ‘Ceylon Tamils’
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
British Tamil Students Build War-Torn Mullaitivu's First Media Centre
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Friday)
Joint Press Release: Sri Lanka sends war crimes denier to Geneva as part of official delegation.
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
Karannagoda drags Gota into mass murder case
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Monday)
Tamils’ Hopes Fading: Every Village Is Sinhalese? Rāghavan Sacked?
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Sunday)
106 Tamil Diaspora Groups Jointly Urge UNHRC Not to Give any more Additional Time to Sri Lanka - Urge to Refer to ICC
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Sunday)
Ten Years After A War Without Witnesses: Global Tamil Forum Calls To Ensure Sri Lanka Firmly Remains On The UNHRC Agenda
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Sunday)
Human Rights Council 40: UK Statement for the Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on the Protection of Human Rights while Countering Terrorism
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Saturday)
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, while speaking at the Kilinochchi District development review meeting, blamed the Northern Provincial Council authorities, saying that they have almost become inactive towards the problems faced by the people in North.
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Friday)
Ranil blasts Northern Provincial Council
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Friday)
Approval for TRC mechanism Navi Pillay blasts Govt
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
A New ‘Washington Consensus’ ‘Indo–Pacific’ and India’s Emerging Role
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
US resumes Millennium Challenge aid to Sri Lanka
Published Date: 19/06/2016 (Thursday)
Donate
Support our work to bring rights to life in any way big or small
 Amount:

Donate using PayPal

Select dates to view
past and future events
<<<Jul - 2019>>>
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   
 Stand up for Rights and Justice
Grant 18 year old Saudi Woman Rahaf asylum in the UK
Read more...
Take Action
Call to Ban Monsanto’s pesticide
Trump’s child hostages
Set Noura Free -- sign now!
Latest Publication
Proto Sumero Dravidian: The Common Origin of Sumerian and Dravidian Languages Conference Report:

Proto Sumero Dravidian: The Common Origin of Sumerian and Dravidian Languages

Read more...

Thiruvalluvar
About us
Site Help
Getting in touch
Other
Facebook Youtube twitter
Sitemap  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms and Conditions
Copyright © 2019 ticonline.org, All rights reserved.