The occupying Sri Lanka Army (SLA), which maintains a military base at Punaanai in Kora’laippattu North DS division of Batticaloa district, has been preventing Tamil farmers from engaging in paddy cultivation in their own land, even after the end of the war, the villagers complain. In the meantime, latest reports say that the occupying SL military is scheming a Sinhala colony in the occupied lands of Tamils.
A section of Tamils, living Punaanai, are Upcountry Tamils who had settled there after the anti-Tamil pogroms in 1958. Late Mr. K.W. Devanayagam, a Tamil politician from Kalkudaa, had allocated paddy lands and highlands for the 49 Upcountry Tamil families in 1979, when he became a minister in the UNP cabinet of J.R. Jayawardene. The Upcountry Tamil families were engaged in cultivation till the year 1990 when the Sri Lanka Army occupied the area, setting up a training and artillery base.
After the end of war in East, the Tamil families sought to engage in cultivation in their own lands, but were refused entry by the occupying SLA.
The SLA camp is located in the area blocking the irrigation by the Mahaweli Development Board to the paddy fields.
The returnees were stopped by the SLA when they attempted to remove the block to enable flow of water to their paddy fields.
No action has been taken to provide assistance to the Tamil farmers to do their paddy cultivation even after they made representations to the Chief Minister of the Eastern Provincial Council, the Deputy Minister for Resettlement and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) parliamentarians of the Batticaloa district.
Civil sources in Batticaloa said that the SL military, in a similar manner, also blocked irrigation to paddy fields belonging to Tamils under the “B” zone of the Mahaweli scheme in the East, last year.