Salli-sustaining the will to survive against odds

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 08 May 2001, 15:06 GMT]
Salli is an old coastal village on the northern side of the Trincomalee Bay. Like hundreds of other Tamil villages in Sri Lanka's north and east, Salli is a shadow of its former self. Last week the Sri Lanka Navy, which has ringed the village with four camps, ordered civilians here to stay indoors after 6 p.m.

There are severe restrictions on what one can take into the village. žIt is very much like the embargo on the Vanni although Salli is under the control of the SLN and PoliceÓ, says a western aid agency worker in Trincomalee. Residents fled the village in 1983, 1985 and 1990 fearing attacks by the Sri Lanka Navy and Army. Many went as refugees to South India in their fishing boats. Last week the Navy fired mortars and artillery on Salli, wounding at least four, including a four-year child, and damaging three houses.

Salli is eight kilometres north of Trincomalee town on Uppuveli-Kuchchaveli road. About four hundred Tamil families live in the village now.

The attack started around 10.30 p.m. on April 30 and continued till 1.30 a.m. Residents said that shells were fired from all the Navy camps around the village. The navy camps are located at Mankanai, Alles Garden, the 6th milepost and by Salli.

Paramanatharajah Chandramohan, 22, of Salli who was critically injured in shelling by Sri Lanka Navy on his village on 30 April receiving treatment at the Trincomalee base hospital. (Photo: TamilNet)
Three of the injured were admitted at the Trincomalee base hospital. The condition of Paramanatharajah Chandramohan, 22, was critical at that time of admission. His condition is now improving, hospital sources said. Anandarajah Saratha, 30, and Saravanapavan Radha, 4. They were discharged after treatment.

The Navy has also placed severe restrictions on fishing.

Journalists in Trincomalee town say that it is very difficult for them to cover stories in Salli or take photographs there because of the unfavourable attitude of the Navy and Police.

Last year on 24 February, Sri Lanka Navy personnel went on a rampage in the village and torched 12 houses and 3 shops. A van and three motorbikes were set on fire by them.

The next day, hundreds of residents from Salli sat across the main road from Trincomalee to Pulmoddai near the Pillaikulappaalam Bridge, blocking all traffic north of the district to protest again the Navy atrocities in the village.

"Many people in Salli wanted to leave the village again to find shelter in a safer place. But if we had fled our place of birth again we would have become permanently homeless. This is our home. We have to stand up to them and resist or become refugees whenever their turns against us. If they want to fight the LTTE let them do so. If they are true soldiers they should stop practicing their bravery on us but face their enemy on the battlefield and allow us to live in peace", said a community leader of Salli, who wanted to remain anonymous.

The people of Salli sitting across the Trinco north main road on 25 February 2000 in protest against an SLN rampage in the village the day before. (Photo: TamilNet)


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