Two Sinhala officials from Colombo’s Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources were taking the side of occupying Sinhala fishermen in Kokku’laay, who on Tuesday went to the extent of violent threat against the Tamil officials from Mullaiththeevu District Secretariat, Land Commission and Village Officers (GS) of Kokku’laay East and West. The surveying was to be carried out according to the instruction of the courts. But, Sinhala fishermen, occupying all the 10 paadus (coastal sea-beds falling within the scope of a draw net) in the coast of Eezham Tamils at Kokku’laay, were aggressively opposing Tamil fishermen and the officials from Mullaiththeevu district. The showdown on Tuesday was illustrating the pathetic state of so-called reconciliation being advocated by the global and regional ‘strategic partners’ and their agent State in Colombo, commented Tamil activists in Vanni.
Location of Naayaa'ru
The location of Kokku'laay village and lagoon. [Satellite map courtesy: Google Earth]
Sinhala fishermen were demanding the surveying officials not to calculate two paadus located near the river-mouth of Naayaa’ru lagoon. They were contradicting with the court order. The surveying officials proposed to do the measurement both the ways as demanded by the Sinhala fishermen and as by the officials in Mullaiththeevu. But, the Fisheries Department officials were not prepared to respect the intervention by the civil officials from the area.
The ultimate authority of lands is Divisional Secretary. However, the surveying officials who had come from Colombo continued without respecting the request of the Divisional Secretariat officials.
As the angry Sinhala fishermen went to the extent of violence, District and Divisional Secretariat officials, GS officers P. Vithuran and K Jeyaharan along with Land Commission officials S. Senthan and M. Saravanan walked out after conveying their disappointment to the survey department and fisheries department officials who had come from Colombo.
Anthonypillai Mariyathas, who represents Tamil fishermen’s societies from Kokku’laay said the behaviour of fisheries department officials was ethnically discriminating.
“They were attempting to exclude 500 meters, including the first of the 10 paadus, from the measurement. We categorically condemn the atrocious conduct,” Mr Mariyathas said.
Tamil fishermen were in possession of 10 paadus along the coast of Naayaa’ru since 1965 till they were chased out from Kokku’laay and Naayaa’ru by the occupying SL military in 1984, he said.
In 1985, Colombo moved to Gazette the fishing-beds making inroads to occupying fishermen from South.
The officials of SL Fisheries Department who came from Colombo identified themselves as Ms Santhamali and Mr Rohita.