Facebook icon
Twitter icon
e-mail icon

Tamils in Kalmunai protest against move to subjugate local division

Tamil residents of Kalmunai North have opposed a move by the Sri Lankan government to subjugate their division under the Kalmunai South Division, adding that Tamils in the region were assured a fully-fledged secretariat to address their community-specific needs. 

A protest was held by locals in front of the Kalmunai North Division to express their opposition to the move by Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Public Administration, Home Affairs, and Provincial Councils adding that it was racially motivated to annex their rights to a Tamil-dominated locality. Protestors also alleged that funds for the development of Kalmunai North have been ignored. 

Kalmunai North (Tamil Division) has 29 Gramasevaka divisions operating under it (Gramasevaka being the smallest administrative unit), catering to 39,000 individuals and 6 ancestral Tamil villages. 

According to a situation report by the Urban Development Authority, the Kalmunai Municipal limits primarily consist of two Divisional Secretariat divisions namely Kalmunai and Sainthamaruthu. For administrative purposes, Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat functions as two divisions called Kalmunai Muslim and Tamil Divisions. Kalmunai Municipal Council invariably covers the entire Kalmunai Electorate.

On 12 May 1987 by the gazette notification number 453/19 village councils of Sainthamaruthu, Natpiddymunai, and Maruthamunai along with Kalmunai Town Council were amalgamated and brought under the Pradeshiya Sabah of Kalmunai. Two areas were given two sub-offices with the Muslim sub-office being the main office in charge of land and finance. However, local Tamils claimed they did not receive a fair share through this arrangement and were unable to make the best use of their land resources, planning for economic activities, or participate in government-led welfare programs. Following protests, a cabinet decision was taken in 1993 to grant Tamils a separate divisional secretariat with powers to manage land and finances.

At the time the Tamil parliamentarians claimed that this move did not materialize as successive governments, bowed to pressure from some Muslim leaders. Thus, for the last 30 years, the sub-office has not been upgraded.

The protestors demanded to know if a resolution or consensus was passed in Cabinet to subjugate the Tamil Division and the details of the cabinet paper be made known. The protestors also said that the divisional secretary (DS) cannot exercise his powers beyond the designated division for which he has been appointed, however, the DS in the South is making decisions concerning the Tamils in the North. 

“On what basis are these decisions being made?” they asked. “It is illegal and we ask that the government revert to the decision taken in 1993 where the Tamil Division was supposed to have been made a fully-fledged divisional secretariat.”

Demonstrators also said that nearly 300 officers had been appointed to the Kalmunai North however important positions such as an accountant still needed to be filled. “How can such appointments be made?” they asked. “Under whose approval are these appointments being made?”


We need your support

Sri Lanka is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Tamil journalists are particularly at threat, with at least 41 media workers known to have been killed by the Sri Lankan state or its paramilitaries during and after the armed conflict.

Despite the risks, our team on the ground remain committed to providing detailed and accurate reporting of developments in the Tamil homeland, across the island and around the world, as well as providing expert analysis and insight from the Tamil point of view

We need your support in keeping our journalism going. Support our work today.

For more ways to donate visit https://donate.tamilguardian.com.