Troops by schools: officer ventures rationale

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 22 March 2000, 18:41 GMT]
The officer in charge of the Sri Lankan army (SLA) camp at Kinnaiyadi, 33 kilometers north of Batticaloa, told residents of the village who were summoned by him this morning for a meeting that his troops were stationed by the local school in the interests of the students. Sources in Kinnaiyadi said that the officer appeared to be reacting to the strong objection raised by the Ceylon Tamil Teachers Union about the large number of SLA camps that are located by schools in Tamil villages when it met the Governor of the Northeastern Province Major Gen.(retd) Asoka Jayawardana on March 10.

The SLA camp at Kinnaiyadi is situated by the Saraswathi Viththiyalayam, the local school. Two children here were wounded last year when the school was hit by mortar fire. Both local residents and teachers were summoned by the SLA for the meeting this morning.

The officer in charge of the Kinnaiyadi camp told the gathering that parents should not allow their children to join the Liberation Tigers and that teachers should ensure the good conduct of the students. He also told the villagers that they would be allowed to take fertilizers and other inputs to their rice fields in the hinterland if they provide the army with information about the Tigers.

The army, according to him, would be compelled to re-impose severe restrictions on access to the hinterland and hence their farms if they did not do so.

The rice fields of the farmers in Kinnaiyadi lie in the hinterland to the west of the village across a lagoon. This large region is under the LTTE's control. The SLA has placed severe restrictions on taking many goods to the hinterland, including batteries, cement and fertilizer.

The officer, nevertheless, told the meeting that the army would help in the development of Kinnaiyadi; roads would be repaired, a post office would be established and telephone connections be given to the village.

Meanwhile, Kinnaiyadi farmers said that the local SLA instructed them last week to give a bag of rice each to the camp when they (the farmers) bring in their harvest to the village. The harvesting season has begun in the farmlands west of Kinnaiyadi.

 

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