Uncertainty grips war-uprooted coastal village of mainland Mannaar

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 April 2020, 23:45 GMT]
The occupying SL Navy, which is stationed at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam, a coastal village located 45 km south of Mannaar city, continues to keep more than one thousand acres of lands out of bound to the uprooted Tamils. SL President Gotabaya Rajapaksa transformed the ancient Tamil village as the command headquarters of North West Naval Area of SL Navy when he was the SL Defence Secretary in 2013. The SLN is using only 35 acres of lands. Private title-lands, LDO permit lands and lands that belong to Catholic Diocese of Mannaar remain out of bounds for the uprooted Tamils. After 2015 regime change, Colombo handed back barely 77 acres of church lands deceiving the protesting people with a promise of freeing their properties in a “step-by-step” manner. The changes taking place within the SL Navy and the pandemic lockdown have further eroded the outlook for resettlement, the uprooted people complain.

Location of Mu'l'likku'lam [Map courtesy: Google Earth, Legend by TamilNet]

In January 2013, Sinhala Archbishop from Colombo and a Cardinal of Vatican, His Eminence Malcolm Ranjith, had personally come along with genocidal Colombo’s Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in grabbing Mu’l’lik-ku’lam village for the SL Navy.

The return of Rajapaksas has dimmed the prospects for their resettlement. A new commander has taken charge of the SLN camp.

The pandemic lockdown has escalated the anxiety of the uprooted people, whose livelihood has been disturbed, and the construction work of a housing scheme inaugurated in February has been put off.

Inauguration of housing scheme held on 07 February at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam
Inauguration of housing scheme held on 07 February at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Mannaar had managed to mobilise resources for the construction of fifty houses to the people who were to be resettled in the 77 acres of the church-provided lands at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam.

German Catholic Bishops’ Organisation for Development Cooperation, MISEREOR, came forward to provide funding for the construction of the houses. The organisation also promised to facilitate livelihood support for the families.

Caritas-SEDEC, the charity of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Sri Lanka and Caritas Valvuthayam, the social service wing of the local diocese, began to implement the project in February.

Valvuthayam inaugurated the construction of eleven houses in the first phase of the project on 07 February 2020.

Each house was to be constructed at the cost of 850,000 rupees.

Inauguration of housing scheme held on 07 February at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam
Inauguration of housing scheme held on 07 February at Mu'l'lik-ku'lam

The Bishop of Mannaar ceremonially inaugurated the ceremony.

Admiral Ruwan Perera, the commander of the SL Navy camp in Mu'l'lik-ku'lam, which is claimed as the command headquarters of SL Navy's Northwestern Naval Area, was also present at the ceremony.

Almost ten days after the inauguration, Ruwan Perera has been transferred as the commander of the largest Eastern Naval Command and a new SL Navy commander, Rear Admiral DKP Dassanayake, has taken charge of Mu'l'lik-ku'lam camp.

Apart from the current pandemic lockdown, the changes taking place within the ranks of the SL Navy were also severely affecting their resettlement progress, the uprooted people complain. Those assisting the resettlement have to start from zero, explaining everything again, to the new commanders, who take charge of the camp in the military-occupied village.

The river flowing and entering the Gulf of Mannaar at Mu'l'likku'lam is the boundary between the Northern and the North Western Provinces. The Vilpattu reserved forest south of the boundary was scattered with a number of Tamil villages before it was declared a reserved forest in 1903. The Tamil territory was contiguous up to Negombo in the Western Province at that time, before the Sinhalicisation of the Tamil Catholics of today's Puththa'lam and Gampaha districts. [Map courtesy: Google Earth, Legend by TamilNet]



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