M.A. Sumanthiran, PC, MP, who battles to win and restore the lost rights of the Tamil people, has formed an advocacy group of enthusiastic lawyers all out to challenge the lawless steamrolling of Tamil rights by the government and its agencies. The group won an initial victory in their landmark case yesterday, 10 November 2020. The group of lawyers vowed to challenge the government with lawsuits to claw back what Tamils have lost.
As government institutions acquire many state lands which are then made inaccessible to the Tamil public, the Tamil people are increasingly nervous about their future in Sri Lanka. To address this, Sumanthiran’s informal group of lawyers engage in public interest litigation. They wish to contribute their knowledge and expertise to the cause of stemming this anti-Tamil theft where what belongs to the Tamil people is removed from their use and even access, thereby blunting government’s attempt to promote separatism through discrimination.
Twenty-seven attorneys-at-law gathered for the first organizational meeting. One of them, Roshanthini Uthayakumar, filed two plaints at the Trincomalee High Court on behalf of the public, including the farmers whose lands had been acquired. Kesavan Sajanthan, till recently an ITAK representative at the Northern Provincial Council, appeared for the plaintiff.
One of these plaints challenged the acquisition of state land to construct Buddhist Temples within the Kuchchaveli Divisional Secretary’s area in Trincomalee District. The other challenged the high-handed acquisition of 354 acres of paddy land in Thennamaravadi belonging to Tamil People.
The High Court issued three stay orders in favour of the Petitioners. Hon. Judge M. Elancheliyan, presiding, through interim orders,
1. Disallowed stopping Petitioners from entering their lands;
2. Disallowed any obstacle from being placed against the Petitioners’ efforts at developing their land or doing agriculture thereon;
3. Stopped the giving away of these lands to any Buddhist Temple.
Matters will be heard next on 23 Nov. 2020.
Nationalism is a Cover for Acquisitiveness
The security forces’ footprint hangs heavily over the Tamil people as they take over the North-East on the pretext of protecting heritage. Nationalism, it is said is the cover used by the crooked. For the security forces usually protecting Sri Lanka is the cover for taking over private lands for their acquisitive selves. As I write (11 Nov.) there are reports of huge demonstrations in Jaffna’s islands against the navy trying to take over civilian-owned lands for the use of men stationed there.
This greed results in the men who come North to “save Sri Lanka” getting to be very acquisitive and tending to break up Sri Lanka. Many Tamils feel that the security forces are in league with criminals to expand their influence over the Tamil people so that they may make money for themselves. A reporter cited the Aljazeera report of 20 Sept. 2020 that a drug ring includes more than a dozen officers from a key narcotics unit of the state. He referred as well to periodic reports of high security services officials engaged in the narcotics trade. The most recent was 2 days ago when the Daily News reported a high-ranking officer’s driver, a sergeant, being arrested for smuggling heroin. A civilian from Chunnakam cited the Aawa Group activities in Jaffna – the police watching as Aawa men assault the public and when the public go to the police station to complain, they see the assailants in a chummy relationship with the police so the would-be complainants beat a hasty retreat.
The suspicion is that the occasional arrests of drugs smugglers are a set-up drama to show that the police do their work while most smugglers get away because they are partnered with the forces. A doctor from Jaffna cited the case of convicted hitman, DIG Vaas Gunawardena, telling drug dealer “Singappuru Sarath that [Singappuru Sarath’s name] was on the top of the list of drug traffickers to be killed” (DIBS Jeyaraj, 24 June, 2013).
However, in contrast, the security forces are yet to penetrate the new and less profitable turmeric smuggling. The result is that, unlike drugs, smuggled turmeric (also from India like heroin and ganja) is “easily detected.”
Consider the detection on 8 Nov. 2020. A trawler from India smuggling 2,800 kg of turmeric was interdicted. The 4 Indian fishermen on board were safely returned to India out of fear that the men might be carrying COVID-19. Two Sri Lankan men were also apprehended at the same time and promptly placed in 2 weeks’ quarantine. The incident occurred near Arippu near Mannar as the Navy spotted the smugglers while they were offloading the contraband.
Based on the information provided by the smugglers, a further 2,600 kg of ganja has been found in Calpentyn (Tamil Kalputty). The total weight of ganja is therefore 5,400 kg. Very efficient indeed, sarcastically said a friend of mine who has reported on smuggling for long. The turmeric remains in Sri Lankan custody. The cost in turmeric in India is about SLR 500 in India and about SLR 5000 here.
The boat adds to the festering problem as Sri Lanka plans to destroy or auction all Indians boats in our custody, while Vaiko in India is urging stern action by the Indian government against Sri Lanka.
Said the doctor quoted earlier, “It is this kind of nationalism that is used as a cover for greed, that will lead to separatist sentiments among us. Sumanthiran’s group must expand the scope of their litigation to cover every abuse of the government if Sri Lanka is to remain united. The government is fostering separatism, and indeed chaos through partnerships with drugs dealer. R. Sumanthiran is helping Sri Lanka stay together by restoring faith in our badly broken legal system, broken all the more after the 20th amendment.” (By N. Lohathayalan)