Feature Article

Rajapaksas demonstrate Mafia tactics of control through Devananda in Jaffna

[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 December 2019, 22:59 GMT]
The newly installed SL Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources, Douglas Devananda has let the hell break loose in Jaffna at three different hotspots, where he has given green signal to illegal sand miners to engage in sand mining. During the previous Rajapaksa regime, Maheswary Foundation, a business outfit run by Mr Devananda’s paramilitary group was exploiting the sand excavation in typical Mafia fashion. However, the domination was contained to some extent after the 2015 regime change, but the exploitation continued in low-scale by new actors, predominantly Sinhala traders from South, entering the scene. With his cabinet-rank being reinstated, the Jaffna-based former Tamil paramilitary operative of the Sinhala military and leader of the paramilitary-turned-political party EPDP, has let loose all actors to exploit illegal sand mining without any constraint, allegedly for one week.

The move is seen as an attempt to bring the Mafia industry under his control back, civic sources in Jaffna said.

A tense situation prevails in the hotspots of sand excavation at Thenmaraadchi, Vadamaraadchi East and at Veala'nai, an islet off Jaffna, where the people at the grassroots are confronting the exploiters.

Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s “development” of North is starting with the threat of soil erosion, causing menace from Thaazhaiyadi to Naakar-koayil in Vadmaraadchi East and at Chaavakach-cheari, Thanangki'lappu, Kerudaavil, Kachchaay and Ketpali in Thenmaraadchi as well as at Veala'nai islet.

The clashes are expected to escalate as hundreds of vehicles are engaged in the massive exploitation.

Photos depicting the state of erosion at Ketpali in Thenmaraadchi
Photos depicting the state of erosion at Ketpali in Thenmaraadchi

Tractors subjected to assault in Veala'nai
Tractors subjected to assault in Veala'nai
When the people complained, the SL Police at Point-Pedro has refused to take action stating it has no legal backing for such operations from its hierarchy in Colombo.

The people in Vadamaraadchi East seized two vehicles from the exploiters and handed these over to the SL Police. However, no action was taken against the illegal sand miners, and the vehicles seem to have been handed back to the intruders, the people in Thaazhaiyadi told TamilNet.

Former NPC Councillor Somasundaram Sugirthan said the exploitation was going on in massive-scale as never seen before. Even the places where sand-mining had been entirely stopped due to imminent threat of erosion destroying the landscape and the ecosystem, hundreds of vehicles were seen excavating sands busily. The saline-water intrusion is already witnessed in Kerudaavil and Ketpali areas.

Angry residents of Veala’nai islet set fire to a vehicle in the early hours of Wednesday.

In the meantime, K. Kanageswaran, the Additional Government Agent of Jaffna district, has been transferred to Mullaiththeevu district. He was previously the Divisional Secretary of Maruthangkea’ni in Vadamaraadchi East. He was instrumental in stopping the menace of Maheswary Foundation in the past.

An alleged pro-EPDP civil servant has been transferred from Mullaiththeevu to Jaffna to look after the interests of the EPDP.

“The resumption of sand excavation by Maheswary Foundation means multi-million rupee business at the expense of the environment of Tamil homeland for Douglas Devananda. For Gotabaya Rajapaksa, it means a share from the Mafia business. As far as the Tamils are concerned, we have to remain at the receiving end as a ‘disciplined’ society under Rajapaksa rule,” commented a local leader from Veala'nai who didn’t wish to be named.

Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna
Vadamaraadchi, Jaffna

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