Line rooms torched
[TamilNet, Thursday, 10 September 1998, 21:51 GMT]
Tamils from a tea estate in the Arulpola Division at Wewalwatte in the Ratnapura District, took refuge in a tea factory after a 300 strong Sinhala mob set fire to their 'line rooms' on Wednesday night, said sources.
The attack was reportedly in retaliation for an incident that took place on Tuesday night where two Sinhalese were killed, said sources in Ratnapura.
About 400 'line rooms', extremely squalid quarters in which an estimated 1000 Tamil estate labourers live, were set on fire by the mob.
The police were deployed in the estate due to the tense situation prevailing in the area.
In the incident on Tuesday night, two Sinhala youths were reportedly killed in a private dispute with Tamils from the estate,, said sources.
Estate Tamils, who were brought in colonial times from India by the British as indentured labour to work in Sri Lanka's tea estates, live today on the estates in atrocious conditions despite contributing substantially to Sri Lanka's economy.
They are looked upon by the Sinhalese, who inhabit the nearby villages, as interlopers who have deprived them (the Sinhalese) of their share of the economic pie.
The feuds between the Tamils and the Sinhalese in the estates span many generations.
Relations between the two communities are usually one of passive animosity, flaring into violence on occasions.