Translated by: Iniyavan
M.T.Hasanali, Secretary General of Muslim Congress and the Member of Parliament requested the Tamils to accept and support the demand for the coastal district for Tamil speaking people in Ampara (Weerakesari 29.09.2014)
Regarding this demand, some alterative comments have to be put forth on behalf of the Tamils in Ampara.
At the time of their late leader M.H.M. Ashraf, Muslim Congress Party started its attempt to form a Muslim majoritarian coastal district with the name of Kalmunai district inclusive of the Pottuvil, Kalmunai and Sammanthurai electoral districts in the present administrative district of Ampara excluding the Ampara electorate. The aim of this article is to reveal the alternative comment regarding the formation of this coastal district, having considered the social, economic and political interests of Tamils.
Now, Tamils in Ampara do not want the above mentioned coastal district to be formed. The legitimacy of their dislike in the formation of this coastal district can only be understood through knowing the past 67 years of political history of the Tamils since 1947.
The present Ampara district was carved out of the Southern part of Batticaloa in 1961. It is bordered with Verukal River in the North, Kumukan River in the South, Bay of Bengal in the East and Uva hills in the West.
Sri Lanka’s first parliamentary election took place in August- September 1947 under the Soulbury Constitution. In 1946, in accordance with the recommendation made by the Soulbury Commission, 89 electorates were divided for electing 95 members in order to establish the parliament. Sri Lanka’s first parliamentary election took place on the basis of these electorates. The Ampara district was not formed at that time.
The entire territory inclusive of Oattiruppu, Kalmunai and Poththuvil electorates existed during the period of 1947-1959 were known as a separate electorate called as Batticaloa South during the period of legislative council (1931 – 1947).
The above mentioned Batticaloa district was divided as Pattiruppu, Kalmunai and Pottuvil electorate following the re-determination of the boundaries taken place in 1946. The people lived in 1947 in the southern part of Batticaloa particularly at the Kalmunai and Potuvil electorates at that time are today’s Ampara dictrict Tamils.
When it is considered that the Southern boundary of Pattiruppu electorate at that time (1947 – 1959) wide spread up to Kalmunai- Thalavedduvan junction from where it spread to Ampara main road through Kiddankithurai, then today’s Ampara district Tamils can be calculated as those Tamils who lived in the Kalmunai and Pottuvil electorate during the period of 1947-1959 and those Tamils who lived up to the southern part of the pattiruppu electorate. Because Pattiruppu electorate comprised of the villages which were later on brought under the Kalmunai electorate when the re-determination of the electoral boundaries held in 1959 such as Periya Nilavanai, Maruthamunai, Pandiruppu, Senaikudiyiruppu and Natpiddimunai.
Likewise, Tamil villages such as Savalakadai, Sorikalmunai, central camp, Annamalai, navithanveli and 6th colony that brought under the old Pottuvil electorate division during the period of 1959-1976 and brought under the Sammanthurai electorate division following the re-determination of the boundary of the electorates held in 1976, were under the Pattiruppu electorate earlier (1947 – 1959).
The above mentioned villages located at the southern boundary of the old Pattiruppu electorate division during the period of 1947 – 1959 were then brought under the Kalmunai and Pottuvil electorate divisions following the re-determination of the boundaries of electorates held in 1959.
Muslims represented the Pottuvil and Kalmunai electorates established in 1946
Sri Lanka gained independence on 4th of February, 1948. Late D.S.Senenayake, the first prime minister of the Independent Sri Lanka and served as the land and agricultural Minister before independence, made the Sinhalese settlement at the Pattipalai river areas which were the southern part of Batticaloa through bringing the Sinhalese lived outside the Northeastern province by establishing the Galoya Irrigation Development Project under the River Valleys Development. The Pattipalai which is the traditional territory of Tamils became Sinhala named (Galoya) due to these Sinhalese settlements widespread with the time.
Following the re-determination of the boundaries of electorates held in 1959, in the southern part of Batticaloa, along with Kalmunai, Pottuvil and Nindavoor electorates and Ampara also established as a Sinhalese majoritarian electorates for the sake of Sinhalese settled under the “Galoya Scheme” in the Pattipalai river area which is the traditional homeland of Tamils.
In 1959, by making use of the political influence from the rulers, the Muslim parliamentarians who represented the Kalmunai and Pottuvil electorates during the period of 1947-1959 calculatedly set the boundaries of the Kalmunai, Nindavoor and Pottuvil electorates in a manner that ensures their electoral success in future and prevents the possibility of the Tamil representation in the parliament from these areas. Whilst the Ampara electorate was newly formed as a Sinhalese majoritarian electorate, Muslim politicians established the Kalmunai, Nindavoor and Pottuvil electorates in a calculated way so as to become as Muslim majoritarian electorates. It was the political discrimination perpetrated by the Muslim politicians against the Tamil people lived there. Such discriminatory measures against Tamils were taken by the late M.S. Kariyappar when he was keeping good relationship with the “Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadsi”.
The Batticaloa district was newly formed as an electorate consists of dual members in which one Tamil and one Muslim representation was must as per the re-determination of the electoral boundaries held in 1959. In the same manner, Muthoor electorate was made as the dual members’ electorate. However, without providing this same opportunity, the Tamils from today’s Ampara district were politically disregarded. In fact, what might have been done was to make any of the electorate among the three electorates such as Kalmunai, Nindavoor and Pottuvil, as an electorate consists of dual members representing both the Tamil and Muslim. Or else, Tamil majoritarian electorate might have been formed as in the manner to represent a Tamil in the parliament. But Tamil Arasu Party did not concern much regarding this because of their lack of political wisdom or they paid attention to their party interests rather than concerning the social, economic and political interests of Tamils.
Because of their Party interests and the benefits of their parliamentary politics, Tamil Arsu Party did not want to disrupt the Muslim parliamentarian M.S.Kariyappar when the re-determination of the electoral boundaries in 1959. The political futures of this regional people were not considered with concern. This was the greatest political mistake made by the Tamil Arasu Party. Tamil Arsu Party turned their blind eyes just because of their party interests whenever the political discrimination against Tamils perpetrated by the Muslim politicians in a well-orchestrated manner. This tragedy should be registered in the Tamil’s history with the bitter agony.
What is being continued today is the same as what they did. Instead of making the Tamils politically aware, Tamil Arasu Party shows interest in inspirational politics. Tamils lost a lot because of they were taught the politics that does not approach it in scientific manner.
Owing to the political fault made in 1959, Tamils in Ampara district did not have a parliamentary representative elected at their own political will for 30 years (1947 – 1977) until the late M.Kanagaratnam was elected as the second parliamentarian from Pottuvil electorate as per the re-determination of electoral boundaries that formed the electorate consists of dual member held in 1976. This made a big impact in the social, economic and political existence of the Tamils.
The formation of Ampara district
When the Sri Lanka gained the independence, Vinthanai region was placed in the eastern part of the Batticaloa district. This was then connected to the Monaragala district and brought into the Uva province. The above mentioned Vinthanaipatru region was not placed in that electorate when the Ampara electorate was formed in 1959. On 10th of April, 1961, the Ampara district was carved out of the southern part of Batticaloa district comprising the Kalmunai, Pottuvil and Nindavoor electorates that were established when the re-determination of the electoral boundaries held in 1959. Vinthanaipatru region was placed in the Monaragala district in Uva province when the Ampara district was newly formed in 1961. The Muslim politicians supported in the formation of the Ampara district as it became as the Muslim majoritarian district at that time it was formed. Particularly, M.S.Kariyappar was supportive to the formation of the Ampara district. This above mentioned Vinthanaipatru was divided into two such as Vinthanaipatru North (Mahaoya) and Vinthanaipatru South (Padiyathalava) and then attached to Ampara district in 1976.
Today, Ampara district (Digamudulla electoral district) was made as the Sinhala majoritarian district. This made the Muslim Congress to demand for the formation of coastal district excluding the Ampara electorate.
Instead of fighting for rights together with the Tamils, Muslim politicians were enjoying the offers through keeping a good relationship with the ruling governments when the Sinhalese settlements were made under the Galoya Scheme, when the Tamils were battered up while they attempted to settle by deforesting and when the Ampara district was formed. Hostility of the Muslim politicians to the Tamils and failure of the Tamil Arasu Party in making the Tamils politically aware brought to this tragic point. It should not be never ever allowed the Ampara electoral district to be given up from the Eastern province in future.
The reason for the unwillingness of the Tamils in the formation of Kalmunai coastal district
Over the past 60 years, the habitats, temples and paddy fields of Tamil people were gradually lost when the Tamils were living under the Muslim majoritarian electorates and under the local governments and Muslim administration. Tamil villages and Tamil schools were muslimized. Hostility of the Muslim politicians to the Tamils and the political influences of the Muslim politicians and their economic strength gained through it and the Muslim-Tamil ethnic riots orchestrated by them were the catalysts for such losses of Tamils in Ampara district. Kalmunai can be exemplified as the evidence. Whenever Tamils in Ampara became helpless following the losses, Tamil Arasu Party leaders visited to the scene and just talked alone about the Tamil-Muslim unity instead of finding the remedies for the fundamental issues of the affected Tamils. The situation till today continues like this.
In such a circumstance, Tamils had to demand for the separate Tamil majoritarian administration divisions (Divisional Secretariat Divisions) and the local governments in order to protect the existence of Tamils in terms of social, economics and politics in future. Following the Tamil-Muslim ethnic riots happened at Kalmunai in 1967, Kalmunai Progressive Committee headed by the late Mr.T. Anthonypillai requested the late Mr. M.Thiruchelvam belonging to Tamil Arasu Party to split the Kalmunai urban council bordering with Kalmunai Tharavaipillaiyar road into two units such as Muslim majoritarian unit and Tamil majoritarian unit.
Tamils in Ampara necessarily should have three basic structures such as separate Tamil administrative units (DS divisions), local governments and cooperatives separately in order to safeguard their existence and to carry out the development projects in terms of social, economics and politics. Tamil majoritarian administrative units are needed as a prime concern above all.
The following fundamental issues of the Tamils in Ampara are remaining unresolved.
(i) Promoting the Kalmunai Tamil Divisional Secretariat.
(ii) Formation of the Pottuvil (North) Tamil Divisional Secretariat.
(iii) Formation of the Sammanthurai Tamil Divisional Secretariat.
(iv) The border conflict at Aalayadivembu Divisional Secretariat.
(v) The border conflict at Karaitivu Divisional Secretariat.
As one of the series of steps to resolve the above mentioned fundamental issues, Ampara District Tamil Maha Sangam submitted the proposal comprising the detailed suggestions to the “Panampalana Commission” appointed by the United People Front government and they testified before this commission. The chairman of that commission conceptually agreed on the legitimate demands of Tamils. But the Muslim Congress Party that was an alliance party with the ruling government at that time did not support for resolving these issues. When the Tamil Maha Sangam discussed with the then Government Agent of Ampara district in this regard, he agreed with the legitimate demands of Tamils in Ampara and advised them to talk to Mr. M.H.Ashraf, the then Minister and the leader of Muslim Congress in order to make it possible. Subsequently, on behalf of the Ampara Tamil Maha Sangam, I, the district coordinator of the Ampara Tamil Maha Sangam and the columnist of this article met Mr.Ashraf in his official residence in Colombo and discussed about this with him.
As requested, Ashraf, who was attentively listening to the opinions of mine regarding the southeastern unit proposed by the Muslim Congress in the political arena, showed his interest for a negotiation with Ampara District Tamil Maha Sangam in this regard. Unfortunately, in lieu of the dissolution of the parliament at that time (1994-2000) and his demise after the year 2000 general election, the negotiation that was wanted by Mr. Ashraf had been unable to be happened. Though Brother Hasan ali did not directly part take in the above meeting, Hasan ali knows about this meeting very well.
Separate Tamil majoritarian administrative units are essential for the Tamils in Ampara in order to make the best use of the resources in their lands, for planning the socio economic actions in comply with their culture and to impartially gain the betterment of the administrative amendments, socio economic development projects, rehabilitation, renovation, reliefs, compensations to the war victims, poverty alleviation and economic development schemes like Janasaviya, Samurdhi, Divineguma and the funds allocated from the governmental and non- governmental organizations.
Thus, the above mentioned activities are implemented at the administrative units (DS Divisions). Decentralized allocations are also made on the basis of the Divisional Secretariat. The funds allocated by the provincial government are also distributed through the Divisional Secretariat. Even some government appointments are also provided through Divisional Secretariat. Separate Divisional Secretariat for Tamils in Ampara district will provide the opportunity for Tamils to enjoy the share pertaining to them without any partiality.
In addition, separate Divisional Secretariat divisions for the Tamils in Ampara and the local units based on this are essential in order to reveal their political aspirations without any threats and to enjoy the reformations of the local and administrative functions made by the government time to time.
Moreover, these separate administrative units are more important to protect the traditional lands of Tamils. Therefore, Muslim Congress should seek the support from the Tamils in the formation of Kalmunai coastal district only after resolving the above mentioned issues and providing the support for the formation of the above mentioned Divisional Secretariat. But, Muslim Congress recently also opposed the promotion of the Kalmunai Tamil DS division, which is actually injustice committed by the Muslim Congress against Tamils.
Southeastern provincial unit presented in the political arena in the times of Ashraf, the founder of the Muslim Congress, also ignoring the existence of the Tamils in Ampara.
According to the overall shape of the suggestions made by the Muslim Congress Party, the proposed unique and separate political unit for the Muslims, which is described today as the southeastern province or region while doing the equally devolution of power to Tamils, should cover the territories in the divisions of revenue offices located in Today’s Ampara district such as Panamaipatru, Akkaraipatru, Sammanthuraipatru and Karavaku- Nindavoorpatru and the Vekampatru South AGA division. The identified Muslim regions in Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Mannar districts should also be brought under the governance of this proposed separate Muslim state.
(Source: Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, the 13th National Conference book (02.04.1995) Pages 31, 32)
The above mentioned territory covers the Pottuvil, Kalmunai and Sammanthurai electorates that formed due to the re-determination of the electoral boundaries held in 1976. This territory consists of the 72 km-long coastline from Periyaneelavanai which is the north border village of the Ampara district to panamai. In which, there are 45 km-long coastal area from Akkaraipatru to Pottuvil, where Tamils have been alone living without mixing with the Muslims. This separate Tamil territory consists of the Aalayadivemu and Thirukkovil Tamil majoritarian DS divisions and north part of the Pottuvil DS division (Proposed PottuvilTamil DS division). Other than this, Karaitivu Tamil majoritarian DS division, Kalmunai Tamil DS division, proposed Tamil DS division and Navithanveli Tamil majoritarian DS division are come under the proposed southeastern unit. In addition to that, Addappallam which is the ancient Tamil village, Maadduppalai Meenadshi Amman temple are come under the Ninadavoor Muslim majoritarian DS division and a Tamil village named Thiraikerni comes under the Addalaichenai Muslim majoritarian DS division and the Tamil village named Manikkamadu comes under the Addalaichenai Muslim majoritarian DS division and popular Murugan temple named “Ukanthai Murugan” comes under the Lakukala Sinhalese majoritarian DS division are also comprised in this proposed Muslim state.
But, The Muslim Congress which, proposed that the identified Muslim regions in the Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Mannar districts should be brought under this proposed southeastern Muslim Provincial unit, kept silence about the above mentioned identified Tamil regions in the proposed southeastern Muslim region. This vividly showed the hostility of Muslim Congress to the Tamils. Southeastern unit proposed by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in the past, had denied and questioned the existence of the Tamils in Ampara.
The territorial area of the Kalmunai coastal district demanded by the Muslim Congress and the territorial area of the proposed southeastern provincial unit suggested earlier are almost same. Therefore, the Tamils should have to view the demand for the Kalmunai coastal district with suspicion. Because it seems that the thing, which was earlier attempted to be achieved through the proposed southeastern unit, is being tried to be achieved through the Kalmunai coastal district after splitting the Northeast province.
Moreover, having considered the past and present experiences, it could be said that the discriminatory actions of the Muslim politicians over the Tamils would be intensified if the Tamils live under the administration of the Muslim majoritarian Kalmunai coastal district. Eastern Provincial Council comprising Muslim Chief Minister and Muslim Ministers (except few Sinhalese Ministers) is an example for the Muslim administration which disregarding the social, economic and political aspirations of the Tamils. But in the present Sinhalese majoritarian Ampara district, the discriminatory actions of the Muslim politicians over the Tamils would relatively low. This is the reality. Therefore, the demand for Kalmunai coastal district proposed by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress can be supported unconditionally by the Tamils.
Moreover, without discussing with the Tamils at least with Tamils in Ampara about the pros and cons of the both southeastern Muslim provincial unit and Kalmunai coastal district, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress spontaneously acted and proposed these two demands in the political arena. This is the most fundamental political mistake committed by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress.
Apart from that, without discussing with other Tamil political parties or at least with the Tamils in Ampara district, TULF headed by the late Mr.M.Sithamparam unconditionally agreed with the southeastern provincial unit proposed earlier by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. This was the greatest political treachery committed by the TULF against the Tamils. Therefore, the leadership of the Tamil Arasu Party should not act regarding the Kalmunai coastal district like what they did in the past.
However, in the long run Tamil – Muslim unity is essential. But it will be meaningful only when it comes from the both side rather than it comes from a single side. The past history tells us that the Tamil-Muslim unity could not be possibly made either by Tamil Arasu Party or Sri Lanka Muslim Congress in a meaningful way. Apart from the parliamentary political interests and party interests, the real Tamil – Muslim unity can only be made by creating the internal and external circumstances in a manner in which the legitimate demands of both Tamils and Muslims should be supported each other rather than the negotiations between Tamil Arasu Party and the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress. Therefore, without opposing the resolutions to the fundamental issues of the Tamils in Ampara district, Muslim congress should show the green signal to the resolutions for the fundamental issues of the Tamils in Ampara district. Then only, the Tamils would come to support for the proposed Kalmunai coastal district as the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress expected from Tamils.