Sinhala-Tamil student clash in Jaffna exposes dangerous proportions of military occupation

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 19 July 2016, 23:15 GMT]
Ethnic tension has been escalating over a period of time at the University of Jaffna recently and it culminated into the violent clash on Saturday, says Srinadaraj Kalaraj, the deputy secretary of non-academic staff at the University. He was blaming the military intelligence having allegiance towards different sections of politicians in the South as the main culprit for creating the violent tendency. Instead of investigating individual students, a proper investigation should focus on finding out the real reasons behind this tendency, he said. In the meantime, Human Rights Activist Rev Fr M Sakthivel told TamilNet that the SL military has not only occupied the lands of Tamils, but also the Universities in the North and East. They were also citing the trend of ethnic motivated violence in the Eastern University and at Badulla in the recent past.

The Sinhala press in Colombo and the politicians in South have given a distorted picture to the public, they said.



Tamil students, who were initially injured in the clash, were unable to come in public due to the militarised situation. The real nature of the clash has been distorted by the Colombo press as if it was only Sinhala students who got assaulted, the Catholic priest said.

Mr Srinadaraj, the secretary of the Union of Non-Academic Staff, condemned the University administration for the lack of a principled approach in maintaining a conducive and qualitative atmosphere. Those in the administration, running behind the politicians, have opted to admit more Sinhala students than Tamil students for obtaining more funds from Colombo, he said.

“We have clearly seen the tendency also in other universities as we were reading the reports of ethnic violence on Tamil students from Eastern University in Batticaloa and Trincomalee campuses and at Badulla in the recent past [after 2009],” he said.

While one of four Sinhala students injured in the clash was admitted to Colombo hospital and is being repeatedly visited by the politicians in the South, seven Tamil students who were assaulted by the Sinhala students were unable to come to public due to the militarised conditions in Jaffna.

All the injured Tamil students have received medical treatment at private hospitals and have not filed any complaint with the SL Police. Any Tamil student, being mentioned by name in media would risk military harassment, student union representatives said.

Instead of going after individual students, the authorities should pay more attention towards maintaining proper atmosphere and relieve the Universities from militarisation, Rev Fr M Sakthivel and Mr Srinadaraj told TamilNet.

However, the SL police was also acting against Tamil student leaders by going after them based on one-sided complaints, Tharsanan Paramalingam, a former leader of the JUSU told TamilNet on Tuesday.

The SL Police at Koappaay was trying to arrest S. Thishinthan, the current leader of the Jaffna University Student Union, Mr Tharsanan said on Wednesday. Three Tamil student leaders have already been instructed to appear for inquiries by the SL Police, he said.


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