Sinhala settlers in Batticaloa cultivating corn on grazing land have threatened Tamil livestock farmers and killed several cows that were grazing on the disputed land.
Livestock numbering around 350,000 belonging to 991 Tamil families currently use the grazing land in the Mylanthanaimadu and Periya Maadhavanai areas of the Batticaloa District. According to TNPF MP Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, the land was allocated by the Sri Lankan government in a cabinet decision in 2011.
However since August this year, Sinhala farmers from Polannaruwa have been annexing the pasture for corn cultivation. The conflicting permissions have caused tensions, with Tamil farmers saying they have consistently received threats of violence to themselves and their livestock, ending in a slaughter of grazing cows on November 17.
The Tamil farmers stated that Sinhala individuals had on numerous occasions threatened them with logs, demanding their evacuation and the relocation of their cows.
“They are slaughtering our cows. Cows are being slaughtered today and farmers will be slaughtered tomorrow. Before that, President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa must find a quick solution to this problem,” requested the affected farmers.
The cattle farmers have lodged several complaints at the Karadiyanaru police station with no response.
Ponnambalam has written to the Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa on behalf of the Tamil farmers. The MP noted that livestock farmers are “facing grave economic problems as they have been losing their livelihoods”.