Feature Article

Sinhala colonisation escalated in Vavuniyaa North with a multitude of players backing infrastructure

[TamilNet, Thursday, 18 April 2019, 21:24 GMT]
Elected civic members of Vavuniyaa North Divisional Council (PS) complain that the Sinhala colonisation is relentlessly targeting the eastern side of their division. The occupying Sinhala Army and its home-guards paramilitary act as the guardians of the colony while the extremist Buddhist monks coordinate the systematic expansion. Various SL ministries provide the infrastructure. Besides, a host of actors from a leading socio-economic NGO with Buddhist philosophy to a local extremist group known as ‘Sinhala Power in the North‘ (‘Uture Hela Balaya’ or ‘Utura Rakina Raṭa Surakina Jātika Balaya - Vanni’) facilitate it through different approaches. Also, sections of expatriate Sinhalese, including a retired professor from Australia, have funded the housing projects of the scheme. The Sinhala settlers are being radicalised without any provocation or hostility from the Tamils.

Kachchal Chama'nang-ku'lam
The area targeted for Sinhala colonisation is shown in red and the name is Sinhalicised as ‘Kelabogaswewa’. It comprises of Kachchal-Chama'lang-ku'lam and Kokkachchaan-ku'lam in Vedivaiththa-kallu GS area of Vavuniyaa North (Nedungkea'ni). The area is located along the border between the Northern Province and the North Central Province (Vavuniyaa and Anuradhapura districts).

Tamil names and Sinhala names in Chama'lan-ku'lam map
Sinhala names appearing in Google Map [Image courtesy: Google Map, Legend in yellow by TamilNet]
Metric map
The metric map issued by the SL State has only Tamil names
The expanding colonisation is targeting Vedivaiththa-kallu GS area (221A) of Vavuniyaa North (Nedungkea'ni) division from the bordering Welioya in the east (Mullaiththeevu district) and Padaviya in the southeast (Anuradhapura district).

The Tamil village surrounding the tank of Kokkachchaan-ku'lam was renamed into Sinhala as Kelabogaswewa a few years ago.

Also, the nearby Kachchal-Chama'lang-ku'lam has been named ‘Sapumalgaskada’ in Sinhala. Sinhala Buddhist monks, backed by SL Army and the home-guards paramilitary, are claiming the traces of ancient ruins as a Buddhist monastery without any scientific or historical evidence. They have named a new vihara being schemed at the site as ‘Sapumalgaskada Sri Dalada Rajamaha Viharaya’.

“Initially, more than 600 Sinhala settlers were brought in to Kokkachchaan-ku'lam adjoining Maruthoadai. When I visited the area in January, I witnessed a 12-year-old child monk being posted to Kachchal-Chama'lang-ku'lam,” Thurairajah Thamilselvan, an elected civic member of Vavuniyaa North told TamilNet on Thursday.

“During a later visit, I noticed two adult monks. The 3 km long road between Oottuk-ku'lam and Kachchal Chama'lang-ku'lam has been cleared for jungles along both the sides and new huts are being put up for more colonists to be brought into Chama'nang-ku'lam, which is given the Sinhala name, Sapumalgaskada,” he says.

The chairman of Vavuniyaa North PS, S. Thanikasalam has also gone on record in February that the colonisation programme was being carried out without securing any permission from the elected civic council.

Child monk
Child monk observed at Chama'lang-ku'lam where a Buddhist monastery is being schemed

Huts at Oottuk-ku'lam
A hut put up along Oottuk-ku'lam - Chama'lang-ku'lam Road
The Sinhala settlers were also doing agriculture in the lands belonging to Tamils. The tank has been renovated through the Agrarian service centre in Anuradhapura, he says.

The SL Forest Department refuses entry to Tamils who own permits and deeds to their lands. While forbidding the Tamils to clear jungles in their properties, the Sinhala colonists are allowed to log trees along the road and put up huts there, he said.

Tamil farmers were also unable to cultivate as the Sinhala farmers bring cattle into their farmlands.

Sinhala colonisation of Kokkachchaan-ku'lam and Kachchal Chama'nang-ku'lam
Sinhala colonisation of Kokkachchaan-ku'lam and Kachchal Chama'nang-ku'lam in Vavuniyaa North of Northern Province [Satellite image courtesy: Google Earth]

Buddhist temple being set up at ‘Sapmalgaskoda’ as photographed in January 2019

* * *

Mahaweli L Scheme
The Sinhala colonisation planned by Colombo in pre-militant times, revised from time to time and now implemented in acceleration. [Image courtesy: Action Plan 1991 by MASL]
The landscape of the Mahaweli L Zone, which comes under the unitary state and is totally out of any administrative check by the local or provincial authorities, has been silently expanded by Maithiripala Sirisena, the SL president who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. He is the SL Minister in charge of the Mahaweli ‘Development’ Ministry. The SL military acts as the hard power agent to annex the adjoining Tamil areas into the expansion project.

The first phase of the colonisation targeted Ma'nal-aa'ru (Sinhalicised name: Weli Oya) until 2013.

The second phase is advancing towards the eastern coast (Karai-thu'raip-pattu) in Mullaiththeevu district as well as expanding into Vavuniyaa North to the west of Weli-oya.

The international aid, intended for the resettlement of war affected people, is also utilised to settle new colonists through the SL Resettlement Ministry.

Other ministries of the unitary SL State are also channelling their resources to strengthen the colonisation.

Census map Mullaiththeevu
The Census Map of 2012 showing Weli-oya, a recently created and colonized division of the Mullaith-theevu district as an exclusive Sinhala division. The division has now wedged the contiguity between the Tamil districts Vavuniyaa in the Northern Province and Trincomalee in the Eastern Province, while it established contiguity with the Sinhala district Anuradhapura in the North Central Province.

Systematic Sinhala colonisation targets the eastern sector of Vavuniyaa North Division
Systematic Sinhala colonisation targets the eastern sector of Vavuniyaa North Division

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has extended loans to the road infrastructure while the UN agencies have been assisting Colombo to reconstruct the irrigation tanks and their channels in the area.

According to the allocations provided from the Budgetary Support Services and Contingent Liability Project (January to September 2013), as given in the Annex 1 of the Fiscal Management Report of 2014 from the SL Ministry of Finance and Planning, amounts to 61 million rupees.

The SL Ministry of Resettlement was handling the money intended for “resettlement assistance for 1,500 families in Kelabogaswewa, Purchase of vehicles. Construction of 500 houses under the Welioya Resettlement Programme, and Accounting provision for the absorption of the grants given for resettling 650 families in Padaviya, Anuradhapura District,” the report states.

Screenshot from the Fiscal Management Report of 2014
Screenshot from the Fiscal Management Report of 2014

* * *

‘Sapumalgaskada’ was also featured in a publication of The Buddhist Forum (TBF) in June 2013.

The Haryana (India) based non-profit organisation is promoting the ancient Buddhist art and heritage remains in the South Asian region, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Apart from preservation, the TBF also engages with developing Buddhist tourism circuits by linking the various ancient sites at country and international levels.

The Sarvodaya Movement in the island is the organisational member of the group facilitating promotion of projects to preserve ancient Buddhist sites in the island. The content of the report was prepared by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress.

TBF publication
A slide from "Let’s Support And Build SRI LANKA" presentation prepared by the Haryana based TBF in 2013

* * *

SL military's 9 SLE Engineer Reinforcement Regiment (Corps of SL Engineers) is deployed to clear the jungles in Kachchal Chama'lang-ku'lam.

Three of the five divisions of the SL Army, coming under the ‘Wanni’ command of the SLA, are directly engaged in strengthening the Sinhala colonisation programme, informed Tamil civil officials in Vavuniyaa said.

The 21 Division based in Anuradhapura, the 62 Division is located at Galkulama in Welioya and the 56 Division is headquartered near Maa-madu (renamed into Kokweliya in Sinhala) north of Vavuniyaa on A9.

Often, the projects involving the philanthropists are coordinated by Buddhist monks.

David T Gamage & Boniface Perera
Sinhala expatriate professor David T Gamage addressing the settlers along with SL military's commander for Vanni, Major General Boniface Perera, on 14 February 2014 [Photo courtesy: army.lk]
For example, Conjoint Professor David T Gamage from the School of Education, University of Newcastle, Australia, spent 5.1 million rupees from his retirement wages to construct 17 houses in the settlement areas of Bogaswewa, Namalgama, Nandamithragama, Sapumalgaskada and Veheratenna in 2013-2014.

Buddhist monk Kotapola Mangala Thero, who served as advisor to former SL President Mahinda Rajapaksa, coordinated the project which was completed on Nawam Full Moon Poya Day on February 14 in 2014.

Apart from clearing jungles and constructing houses, the SLA divisions also bring assistance from Sinhala medical workers, both abroad and in the South, as well as getting Sinhala philanthropists to assist the infrastructure. The colonists are provided with clothes, bicycles and medical assistance during the military events and during the sacred days of Buddhism.

* * *

The brewing Sinhala extremism from the Sinhala colony is best witnessed in the hate campaign advanced in Sinhala language through the social media.

‘Uture Hela Balaya’ (උතුරෙ හෙල බලය / Northern Sinhala Power) or ‘Utura Rakina Raṭa Surakina Jātika Balaya - Vanni’ (උතුර රකින රට සුරකින ජාතික බලය වන්නි / National Force to Protect North & the Country - Vanni) is an extremist group led by a SL Army operative Nandasena Weerasena (WM Nandasena).

Nandasena at protest
Uture Hela Balaya waging a protest on 30 September 2016

Uture Hela Balaya protest in Vavuniyaa
The protesters were carrying banner condemning C.V. Wigneswaran as trying to ‘separate’ the country. The banner was also condemning the so-called Avaa gang in Jaffna
The name has an indirect connotation implying that it is operated by “Vanni forces who served the country during the times of war”, a Tamil parliamentarian from Vanni told TamilNet. The TNA parliamentarian didn't wish to be named due to security reasons.

Mr Nandasena has been spotted at SL military parade. He uses SL Army slips along with civil clothes while attending military events. Nandasena was instrumental in bringing the Buddha statue to Kachchal-Chama'langku'lam. Mr Nandasena seems to be a key personality in mobilising the Sinhala colonists to wage protests in order to exert pressure on the politicians.

The group wants to carve out a single administrative division (DS) for all the five thousand Sinhala colonist families who currently fall under five DS divisions.

He is also the organiser of Mahinda Rajapaksa's SLPP in the area and operates two Facebook pages of the extremist group (Facebook Page IDs: 214094202336648 and 1772486916353438).

Nandasena with monks
Protest on 30 September 2016

Nandasena FB post
“We are ready to crush the Avaa gang” says Nandasena in a Facebook post
Nandasena giving interview to Sinhala media
Nandasena giving interview to Sinhala media during the protest march

Child monks groomed for future extremism
Child monks groomed for future extremism

Nandasena with monks
Nandasena along with monks bringing Buddha statue to Kachchal Chama'lang-ku'lam in February 2014

Nandasena with Buddhist monks and his colleagues in February 2014
Buddha statue
After placing the small statue besides the big one at ‘Sapumalgaskada’ in February 2014
Nandasena at an SL military function in October 2016. He is wearing a tie with SLA insignia.
Nandasena leaflet
Handwritten leaflet from Nandasena issued in October 2016

Photo from January 2017

Nandasena takes part in military parade in October 2018
‘Recognition’ to the group in Sinhala newspaper
Nandasena reveals his background, but reluctant to explicitly publish photos with military uniform
Nandasena in January 2017

The site of ‘monastery’ from a Google Map featured photo from February 2019

External Links:
Army.lk: Re-settlers Gifted with Army-Built 17 New Houses



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