Navy extorting by proxy allege villagers

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 18 August 1999, 17:08 GMT]
The district judge of Mannar, M.Ilancheliyan, wrote to the commander of the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) base at Talaimannar pier, T.E.C Jayakody, today asking him to help the court uphold law and order in that area in view of reports that a middleman has been extorting money from fisherman allegedly on behalf of two naval officers attached to his camp.

The judge said in his letter that the middleman, Vellaichaamy, has extorted money illegally from the poor fisherfolk at Pesaalai, Talaimannar and Vankaalaippaadu allegedly on behalf of two officers at the Talaimannar pier navy base.

The money had been collected by Vellaichaamy from Fishermen's Co-operatives in the area for securing them the SLN's permission for fishing in the seas off the Mannar island.

The judge had received petitions from residents of Talaimannar alleging that Vellaichaamy was also operating as a middleman between the Navy and drug smugglers from the south Indian coast.

Vellaichaamy, according to the petitioners, negotiates deals between the smugglers and sections of the SLN at Talaimannar pier for securing the release boats seized by the navy in the seas with heroin and Cannabis. The drugs are then sent to Colombo through Vavuniya the petitioners had alleged.

Vellaichaamy was acting as middleman for sections of the navy at Talaimannar pier to allegedly solicit regular bribes from refugee runners who take displaced Tamils by boat to the South Indian coast.

The Mannar district judge had summoned Vellaichaamy through the Talaimannar village officer to appear before him at the Mannar courts last Friday, August 13. Vellaichaamy was questioned by the judge about the allegations.

The man had accepted that he was collecting money for the navy illegally from fishermen and others.

But he had denied that had anything to do with the drug smugglers and had claimed that the monies extorted by him were not given to the navy but that he had kept the cash to himself.

Meanwhile, residents of Talaimannar said today that the Navy is harassing and threatening them over the exposure of Vellaichaamy.

They said that many of them had been assaulted by navy personnel who had wanted to find out the identity of the persons who had sent petitions about Vellaichaamy and his dealings with the SLN camp at Talaimannar pier.

Vellaichaamy, according to the petitioners, negotiates deals between the smugglers and sections of the SLN at Talaimannar pier for securing the release boats seized by the navy in the seas with heroin and Cannabis.

The drugs are then sent to Colombo through Vavuniya the petitioners had alleged.

Vellaichaamy was acting as middleman for sections of the navy at Talaimannar pier to allegedly solicit regular bribes from refugee runners who take displaced Tamils by boat to the South Indian coast.

The Mannar district judge had summoned Vellaichaamy through the Talaimannar village officer to appear before him at the Mannar courts last Friday, August 13. Vellaichaamy was questioned by the judge about the allegations.

The man had accepted that he was collecting money for the navy illegally from fishermen and others.

But he had denied that had anything to do with the drug smugglers and had claimed that the monies extorted by him were not given to the navy but that he had kept the cash to himself.

Meanwhile, residents of Talaimannar said today that the Navy is harassing and threatening them over the exposure of Vellaichaamy.

They said that many of them had been assaulted by navy personnel who had wanted to find out the identity of the persons who had sent petitions about Vellaichaamy and his dealings with the SLN camp at Talaimannar pier.

 

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