SLA puts up sentries on Vadamaradchi reef

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 16 April 2003, 15:14 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army has tightened security along Jaffna’s Vadamaradchi coast by setting up sentry points in the sea, fishermen said. The sentries have been built on the reef which runs parallel to this coast, at the openings through which fishing boats enter shallow waters near the beach for mooring.

Fishermen living between Thondamanar and Pt. Pedro are still required to register their special passes at local SLA camps before setting out to sea. They can enter the shallows for mooring or to beach their boats only through those gaps in the reef specified in their special passes.

The thatch and wood structures at the openings on the reef are manned at night by SLA soldiers to monitor boats that enter shallows or come close to the coast, sources said.

Mr. Sellathurai Selvarajah, 39, a fisherman of Polikandy was beaten up by the Sri Lanka army last Friday (11 April) for entering through an opening in the reef which he had no permission to use. The SLA at the reef sentry point had threatened to open fire on him, according to Selvarajah’s colleagues.


Selvarajah, an SLA sentry on the reef in the background (left)

“I was late for the market as my boat’s out board motor had developed trouble. I was in a hurry to sell the fish before the market closed. So I went through the point that was closest to the Polikandy fish market. But the army sentry on the reef stopped me and assaulted me because I had no permission to enter through that point”, said Selvarajah.

Polikandy is a coastal village about four kilometres west of Pt. Pedro.

The coast between Thondamanar and Pt. Pedro is also home to hundreds of fishing families which were driven out of their villages in Jaffna’s northwestern sector more than a decade ago.

These families live in makeshift structures of wood and thatch, sandwiched between Sri Lanka army camps and sentry points which dot the Thondamanar-Pt Pedro coast.

 

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