Base may displace thousands

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 August 2001, 16:38 GMT]
Following the establishment of a new Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) camp in the village of Varothiar Nagar, about six km north of Trincomalee town Sunday, about two thousand Tamil people living there face imminent displacement for the third time in their life.

The villagers are highly apprehensive about the situation. Some villagers on Sunday itself temporarily shifted their grown up daughters and women to safer areas close by. Others contemplate shifting their families in the coming days.

"We appeal to you to safeguard us from being harassed under the pretext of security cover. Please take immediate alternative steps to avoid another mass displacement from our village," states a memorandum signed by several villagers of Varothiar Nagar, and submitted to the Consortium of Trincomalee District Non-Governmental Organizations.

"As no pipe-borne or well water is available in the land where the new navy camp is situated, navy personnel are going to every house to collect water for drinking and for bathing purposes," the residents complained.

One villager said, "Our privacy and our security are under threat. We do not know when navy personnel enter our land to fetch water from our wells."

This village, formerly called as Thuwarankadu and later named after the late Mr.N.R.Rajavarothiam, former parliamentarian of Trincomalee and a founder member of the Federal Party, lies between Uppuveli-Nilaveli road and Trincomalee-Anuradhapura road. The four-km main road cutting across the village commences from Alles garden on Uppuveli-Nilaveli road and reaches Kanniya on the other end on Trincomalee-Anuradhapura road.

A member of the Varothiyar Nagar Rural Development Society said, "We left the village in the 1985 violence in which 18 people were killed and twelve others wounded. Later, we were resettled in the village in 1987 with the arrival of Indian peacekeeping force (IPKF). Once again we were displaced in 1990 violence. After more than two years languishing in refugee camps, we were resettled in the village in 1993 for the second time. The Trincomalee Rotary Club helped us to re-build our ruined village. When our lives return to almost normalcy, a navy camp has been established in the midst of our village. Now we fear another displacement for our people is imminent."

The only school in this village is Barathi Vidyalayam, with about three hundred students attending classes. The Sri Lanka Army established a camp in the school premises for some time. The army vacated the school following the attack by the Liberation Tigers in December 1999. "Now a police sentry is functioning in the school premises, causing immense hardships to students attending classes. Several parents now have stopped sending grown-up girl students to this school fearing harassment," residents said.

"In addition to the presence of police, now the navy has also come to our village. The presence of navy personnel is causing panic among the villagers as we hear atrocities committed on women and innocent people elsewhere by law enforcing authorities," an elder lamented.

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