Youth taken off bus, detained in Welikanda

[TamilNet, Saturday, 06 October 2001, 17:12 GMT]
A youth was arrested by the Sri Lankan Police at Welikanda, 60 kilometres northwest of Batticaloa, Saturday morning. The youth was taken off a bus from Batticaloa to Trincomalee by the Police at the Welikanda checkpoint. Police sources said that the youth was detained as he did not have a Sri Lankan security forces ‘clearance pass’ to travel outside Batticaloa.

The youth was going to Polannaruwa to work as a labourer, sources said. Hundreds of unemployed youth from the Batticaloa district go to find work in the Sinhala majority Polannaruwa district.

The Police in Batticaloa stipulate that everyone going to work in Polannaruwa as agricultural labourers during the rice harvest season and to work in rice husking mills have to get a ‘security clerance pass’.

Scores of youth impoverished by hostile government policies and harsh Sri Lanka army restrictions regularly leave their villages in Batticaloa to seek work as cheap labour in Polannaruwa, an agricultural district that has prospered since the 70’s under government development programs.

Many Tamil men and women contracted by rich Sinhala farmers and mostly Muslim rice mill owners are often arrested and detained by the Police in Polannaruwa.

Nevertheless, the povery induced in the district by the war and ethnically discriminatory policies and actions of successive regimes in Colombo continue to drive hundreds of youth to find work in Polannaruwa despite the high risk of arrest and detention they face there.


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