Ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese in the central highlands by Indian Tamils

By Dr. Shantha Hennayake, Department of Geography, University of Peradeniya

There is an undeclared policy of ethnically cleansing the central highlands of the Sinhalese. LTTE has infiltrated these areas and secretly organized their base among the Indian Tamils. Indian Tamil leaders although do not openly identify support the LTTE have allowed the LTTE activism as it is directed against the Sinhalese. The Indian Tamil leaders, supporting one or the other two main political parties are in fact both overtly and covertly anti-Sinhalese and their desire has always been to have an exclusively Indian Tamil central highland. The few isolated Sinhalese settlements are kept at bay and the settlers are not allowed to expand. The Indian Tamil political leaders using the political clout they have on the government have ensured that the Sinhalese villagers will not get even an inch of land in these areas. These are state land belong to the Government and not the Indian Tamils.

Several times in the past, the Indian Tamils have rioted, looted and burnt Sinhalese villages in the Talawakele area. Within the plantation region, Talawakele is the only town with a sizable Sinhalese population and this has been an irritant to the Indian Tamils and the LTTE who are carefully and deliberately planning to rid these areas of Sinhalese. Thus in 1986, the Indian Tamil extremists attacked a Sinhalese settlement located about 8 kms away from Talawakele and burnt the house and chased away 37 families out of 48. In the more recent attack (November 2000) the Indian Tamil terrorists haveburnt all the remaining 11 houses and about another 9 houses in another nearby settlement called Troop colony.

As a result of these attacks in Talawakele town and in the vicinity over 27 houses, 19 business establishments, 7 vehicles were completely destroyed. 56 females and 54 males and 55 children were displaced. Most of them found shelter in Talawakele temple during the first two weeks. As the Sri Lanka army which has set up a camp in Talawakele (strangely the Indian Tamil political leaders have been opposing this and have pressurized the government to withdraw it) has taken over the primary section of the Sumana Madya Maha Vidyalaya, the students of grade 1-5 had to shift to Banamaduwa of the Talawakele temple.

They study the old fashioned way - sitting on the floor. Some of the families have gone back to their houses, cleaned the burnet wrecks and began to live with makeshift arrangements. Some local organizations have supported them to a small extent. The "border villages" are no longer in Vavunia, Trincomalle Mannar, Ampara and Batticaloa. It is now only afew kilometers away from Kandy.

"Border" is very near the center! This is what has happened. The following are some pictures of the houses that were burnt. What is common to all these pictures were that the houses belonged to the Sinhalese and the looters and the arsonists were the Indian Tamils.

The House belongs to Mr. Senanayake of Ekamutugama
Hill Country Talawakele in ruins

A vehicle belonging to a Family in Ekamutugama was burnt by the Indian Tamils

The House of Ekamutugama Grama Niladari

Burnt and flattened House belong to a Sinhalese in Troop Janapadaya

The House belong to Ajith Pushpakumar, a school teacher in Ekmutugama

The burnt House of Mr. Dharamasena of Ekamutugama

A shop in Ekamutugama Burnt by the Indian Tamils

The shop belongs to Mr. Hemachandra, a succesfull businessman in Talawakele. Most of his employees are Indian Tamils themselves. His was one of the first shops that was looted and burnt

The primary school had to be relocated to the Temple as the army had to be housed at the school. It was only the army that was able to put a stop to the onslaught of the Indian Tamils against the Sinhalese.

Burnt Sinhalese Shops in Talawakele

A school girl who found only a piece of burnt school text book. Troop Janapadaya in Talawakele