Three Batticaloa civilians missing
[TamilNet, Friday, 05 February 1999, 22:53 GMT]
Three refugees who went to fish in the Kallichchai-Vadamunai reservoir, about 60 kilometres northwest of Batticaloa, on January 31 have gone missing said their families today.
The three were inmates of the refugee camp at Kalmadu, on the eastern outskirts of Valaichenai, 32 kilometers north of Batticaloa.
They were displaced from their village, Vadamunai, in 1990 due to Sri Lankan Army (SLA) action.
Vadamunai is situated close to the Batticaloa-Polannaruwa border.
The SLA forcibly evicted the Tamil population from these areas in June 1990 during an ambitious counter - insurgency program. The vast Vadamunai-Tharavai hinterland was declared by the SLA as a no go area. Cultivation and habitation were banned.
At that time military analysts said that the program was designed to gather the population together into easily managed centres preventing any support previously given to the LTTE. The vast land would also be left unpopulated and therefore easier to control.
Tamils from more than thirty five agricultural and jungle villages in this region had to live as refugees in government run camps around Valaichenai.
Many of these have resettled since 1995 when the Vadamunai-Tharavai hinterland came under the control of the Liberation Tigers. Cultivation has resumed in many parts of this region.
However, the people who were displaced in 1990 from villages such as Vadamunai and Ootruchchenai close to the Polannaruwa district border have not been able to resettle due to the uncertain security situation there.
But many of them from the refugee camps in Valaichenai go back to fish in their now neglected reservoir of Kallichchai-Vadamunai to eke out a living.
S.Sivapirakasam, 36, V.Paramanathan, 50, and A.Marcellin, 25, were among those who risked going back to their village regularly to fish in the reservoir. They would usually sell the catch in Valaichenai.
Sivapirakasam, Paramanathan and Marcellin, according to other refugees who were in the area that day, had walked into an ambush by an SLA deep penetration special forces group by the reservoir.
They said that Marcellin had jumped into the water when he had realised that he and his friends were trapped in an SLA ambush. The fate of the other two is not known. Relatives contacted the GOC of the division 3 Maj.Gen.Janaka Perera through the local MP.
The division 3 GOC checked with the SLA camp at Welikanda which is not far from Vadamunai and got a reply in the negative about the missing persons.
Efforts are still under way to find out the fate of the three refugees sources said.