The Sri Lanka Police Special Task Force officially launched the “Special Waterborne Operation Squad” on Sunday to curb illegal activities on the island’s water and reservoirs, as militarisation on the island intensifies.
The special unit is tasked with managing drug trafficking, smuggling of goods, sand, timber smuggling, illegal gem mining and illegal liquor smuggling.
The Commandant of the STF, DIG Waruna Jayasundara and a team of 16 officers were selected for the job according to Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana on Monday.
Jayasundera had frontline combat experience during the armed conflict and was allegedly in charge of intelligence in the East from 2006-7, as the Sri Lankan military charged forward with an offensive that left tens of thousands of Tamil civilians dead.
Sri Lanka’s army has continuously posed a serious issue to the livelihood of Tamil fishermen across the North-East. In February soldiers blocked Tamil locals from fishing in Kurunthoor kulam (lagoon) located in Kurunthoormalai, Mullaitivu. In the past, the Navy has implemented a “pass system” which effectively barred Tamil fishermen from accessing fishing waters for months and only permitting those with military approval.