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Sri-Lanka-Housing the Sinhala Victors and the Vanquished Tamils (Opinion)

Jul 24, 2010, 05:37 Digg this story!

By  Dr C P Thiagarajah  


After the genocide of nearly 40000 Tamil civilians in the war in May 2009, the Sri-Lnakan racist Sinhala government of Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) is fetish in providing grandiose housing schemes to the members of the Sinhala army composed 99% of ethic Sinhalese but drags the vanquished Tamil through the mud in rebuilding their homes destroyed in its military onslaught.


As reported in the press, MR government had spent four billion rupees for a housing project in Ipalogama in the Anuradhapura district called the Ranajayapura housing scheme. It is located near the Kekirawa-Thalawa main road. Please see the aerial photograph of the housing complex below. There are 1,509 houses in the scheme. The whole area spans 180 acres and each house is on a block of 10 perches of land. It is the largest project ever built for war heroes in Sri Lanka. Each house is worth 2.5 million rupees and has all modern facilities. The houses are given to members of the three armed forces at a concessionary/subsidised rate. The housing scheme also includes super markets, banking facilities, school, day care unit, gymnasium, telephone and all other facilities including a well equipped hospital.


Aerial View of Ranajayapura housing scheme


A fly on the wall observation shows that these soldiers were paid monthly salaries and came from settled homes in their villages through out the length and breadth of Sri-Lanka. Why settle these rich Sinhalese giving houses in an area in between the Tamil Homeland (TH) of the North and East of Sri-Lanka and the Sinhala homeland of the North Central province. Is it a planned military strategy to keep military trained people at the gateway to the TH of the Tamils in case the Tamils rise again to fight for their rights of self determination? Is it a warning, threat, or intimidation to the Tamil Nation not to ask for their birth right of self rule or determination? The free democratic citizens of the world should answer this question.


Now let us turn to the origin of the vanquished. It is relevant to highlight here that all Tamil citizens of Vanni ie all residents of the de facto government of the LTTE were driven out of their houses during the war when the Sri-lankan Sinhala army advanced to capture the Vanni region from the LTTE. Not a single soul could remains in the villages because of heavy carpet bombing and use of WMD. Vanni is scorched earth now, after the military’s fierce incursion. All the houses and community infrastructure had been pulverized. The Tamils who lived and built their peaceful community over many centuries were torn apart and their civilization had been exterminated by the barbarian Sinhala army. Acres and acres of Vanni farmland is now in fallow. The rice bowl of the North and East had been willfully wiped out by the racist Sinhala communal army and the Tamils are starved purposely by the Sinhalese to make them vulnerable to disease and die. This is quite evident from the government preventing the distribution of the massive aid sent by the Diaspora to the IDPs in Vanankaman ship. It is a crime against Humanity. Therefore the term ‘IDP’ is a misnomer as far as the Tamils evacuees are concerned. The world thinks that these IDPs are the ones displaced sporadically here and there due to war. That is not the reality. The Tamil in the camps are the result of burning Vanni with shells, rocket fire and aerial bombardments as shown in the US satellite photos of Mullivaikal (please see satellite photo below). Vanni has not been aerial photographed to show the actual destruction as free media is not allowed by the Sri-Lankan government. As the western media described it was a ‘War without Witnesses’; muzzled without press reports of the same.

The beginning of the conflict between the ethnic communities originated when successive Sinhala governments in Sri-lanka (then called by the Colonial name of Ceylon)shortly after they got independence in 1948 from the British, started a programme to settle peasants in the jungles of Trincomalee District, called the state sponsored colonisation schemes. The main aim was to reduce the Tamil population in their TH. Under these colonisation schemes forests were cleared and water tanks restored. Further, it is vital to note that houses somewhat similar to the homes at Ranajayapura in Ipalogama were provided at state expense to the settlers or colonists.

As a consequence of these schemes, we could observe that the Sinhalese population of Trincomalee District, rose from 11,606 people (15%) in 1946 to 85,503 (33%) in 1981. In addition, during the 1980s the government extended the colonisation schemes into the Dry Zone area of the Northern Province, drawing up plans to settle up to 30,000 Sinhalese in traditionally Tamil land. The map below shows how Sinhala people were settled in the TH of Tamils since 1948 and before 1948.

Land grab from the TH continued unabated and fast in the 1950s as well. The first colonisation scheme was at Kanthalai Kulam (Kantale) tank where peasants from outside Trincomalee District were settled in the traditional Tamil village of Kanthalai, 39 km south-west of Trincomalee town. 77% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Tamils/Muslims.

Subsequent colonisation scheme was at Alai Kulam tank, 25 km south of Trincomalee town. 65% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Muslims.

Land grab from the TH continued unabated and fast in the 1950s as well. The first colonisation scheme was at Kanthalai Kulam (Kantale) tank where peasants from outside Trincomalee District were settled in the traditional Tamil village of Kanthalai, 39 km south-west of Trincomalee town. 77% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Tamils/Muslims.

Continuing on this success a colonisation scheme was inaugurated at Alai Kulam tank, 25 km south of Trincomalee town. 65% of settlers were Sinhalese and the rest were Muslims.

Thereafter, a colonisation scheme was extended to Tamil speaking areas of Anuradhapura District. A scheme was started at Pathavik Kulam (Padaviya) tank, 65 km north-east of Anuradhapura town. Parts of the scheme lay in Trincomalee District and as such were annexed to the Sinhalese dominated Anuradhapura District. The Sinhala colonization hastily continued into the next decade of 1960s. In 1961 a colonisation scheme was started at Muthali Kulam (Morawewa) tank, 24 km west of Trincomalee town

In the 1980s, funded by aid received from the European Community, a colonisation scheme was started at Periya Vilankulam (Mahadiulwewa) tank, 30 km north-west of Trincomalee town.

The colonisation scheme was extended into the Northern Province with the introduction of the Manal Aru (Weli Oya) scheme, which covered the districts of Mullaitivu, Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Anuradhapura. Sinhalese were settled in traditionally Tamil land, given land, homes and security provided by the Sinhala Special Task Force (a Branch of the regular army). Although the scheme covered four districts, administration was handled from the Sinhalese dominated Anuradhapura district. The scheme aroused much anger amongst the Tamils. It had been estimated that all these government sponsored Sinhala colonisation schemes would have cost the exchequer $500 billions. All these schemes were established from the aid obtained from the Western nations. During that time China, India, or the Mohameddan religious countries did not help Sri-Lanka because they themselves were poor. Not a penny benefitted the Tamils as all that dollars were spent on homes for the Sinhalese in their colonies. As Tamils were an ineffective minority due to the present political arrangements their protest went on deaf ears.

This being the coveted position of the Sinhala peasants and the Sinhala army personnel the Tamil vanquished in the last unequal and unwanted war were housed in tarpaulin covered tents when they were all herded into the ‘No Fire Zone’ during Jan –May 2009 and thereafter in the internment camps. Some of the camps in Menik farm had tin roofs. It was a novelty for any one living under these trying conditions. When compared to the houses in Ranajayapura housing scheme in Ipalogama these tents are pig sty.  Instead of myself describing the measurement let me quote the retired Sinhalese Chief Justice Mr Sarath N Silva. “We construct massive building on our side. But these IDPs live in tent-shelters. Ten IDPs live in one tent-shelter. They could stand straight only in the centre of the tent shelter. Their neck will break down if they move to aside of the tent-shelter”.

I again quote him for the bath room and toilet provided at these tents. “IDPs are seen waiting in queues, extending from 50 to 100 yards to take their turn to answer a call of nature. This is the life of Vanni IDPs in Cheddiku’lam camp.” Even these wretched uncongenial camps were subjected to aerial bombardment and shelling where nearly 40000 Tamil civilians were martyred bleeding like slaughtered pigs.


The IDPs had been promised 50000 houses by India. But the promise still remains an unfulfilled promise. In the meantime the IDPs who totalled 300000 are without homes, no source of income, no community life and no form of support from NGOs as no empathetic NGOs to counsel them from the trauma they underwent when they faced the army blitz in a confined area that was declared a safe zone when in fact it turned out to be a fascist’s slaughtering chamber. The Tamils had been deceived not only by a tyrannical state but also by the international community that watched all this happen in the satellite screen. What a horror!


According to the Chief Minister, of Tamil Nadu, a home that would be built for a Tamil IDP is estimated to cost Indian Rupees (currency) 200,000, or Sri-Lankan Rs. 482,600. By comparison the houses for the Victors are four times the value of a promised house for the vanquished. Even those houses still remain a mirage when we note that the 13+ amendment political solution promised to the Tamils by late Rajiv Gandhi still remains a promise unmet.


Under the circumstances, a yarn (tall tale) told to me by Punchi Singho, a caretaker of a house I was living in Maradana, Colombo when a student at the Medical college come to recollection. An estate owner was constructing a cattle shed for his bulls complete with tiled roof, cemented floor and windows etc. One of the construction worker asked owner as to why he was spending so much on a cattle shed when his Tamil coolies are living in pathetic line rooms. His reply was this is for a ‘Sinhala Harakka’ and those are estate Tamil coolie. The IDPs of the TH are not Tamil estate coolies but the scions of an ancient Dravidian civilisation.



Satellite Photograph of the IDP camps in Mullivaikal – Puthumathaln. Left camps intact and Right after GSL army bombardment Tents Burnt out




Tarpaulin Tents (camps) that is given to the IDPs to ‘sleep’





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