The group is also going to clear nearby forest lands and convert it for agriculture with the backing of SL Forest Department, informed civil sources in Batticaloa said. An area of 150 acres of forest lands have been already demarcated for clearance.
A section of dairy farmers from Chiththaa'ndi village, which is situated 21 km north of Batticaloa city, have been utilising the Paalaik-kaaddu-veddai as pastureland for a long time. They have also been struggling against Sinhala colonisation attempt in the recent past.
Paalai-veddavaan is particularly significant to the cattle as it is the only place with water resource. The cattle from the pasturelands at Mayilaththa-madu also use to come here for water, the dairy farmers say.
The goons of Karuna have set up traps to capture the cows during the night time. They have also shot and killed some cattle, one of the dairy farmers have complained to Vaazhaich-cheanai Police. The farmer lodged the complaint despite facing death threat from the group. Initially, the police were sympathetic to the farmer, but suddenly their attitude turned against him, says a representative of dairy farmers association implying that the gang had managed to influence the police.
The gang is making money by selling the meat of the slain cattle, the representative further said.
The group is also demanding the entire area for agricultural farmers from Kiraan and is threatening the dairy farmers from Chiththaa'ndi.
In the meantime, the Divisional Secretary of Koa'ra'laip-pattu South said the disputed area was under the domain of SL Forest Department and that it was up to the department to resolve the dispute between the parties. The area was not officially gazetted as pastureland, but was used as pastureland by the local cattle herders, according to the DS.
The Irrigation Department also has a stake as it was planning to renovate the water resource, the DS further said.
The agriculture farmers from Kiraan also claim that they were doing agriculture in the area in the past.
But, the dairy farmers denied their claim. After evicting Sinhala encroachers from the pastureland in Mayilaththa-madu, the dairy farmers are facing encroachment by their own, they said.
After seizing the territory of Eezham Tamils from the LTTE in 2007, the Colombo-based SL State system was at full swing in seizing the lands and demarcating these as State Lands.
The lands were essential for the livelihood of Tamil residents for their farming activities.
The three basic sources for the livelihood of the people in Batticaloa are agriculture, cattle farming and fishing.
After 2009, Tamil people wanted to resettle in their native villages from which they were chased out during the times of war by the so-called Sinhala ‘home guards’ paramilitary operated by the occupying Sinhala military.
But, their lands were being seized by the SL Forest Department, Wildlife Department, Archaeology Department, Mahaweli Department and other departments and institutions coming under the unitary state system of Colombo.
Now, Karuna is trying to make political benefit using his SLFP contacts within the SL ministries in Colombo.