Batticaloa, specifically the two Muslim
strongholds on either side of the town,
Kathankudi and Eravur, have been on the boil
since May 22. The trouble started with the
murder of Kumar Sathisaran alias Shanthan,
the Arayampathi head of the TMVP.
He was shot and killed using a T56 weapon
near the Kathankudi bus stand, and trouble
that erupted following this murder has not
stopped since, though there have been heavy
reconciliation efforts undertaken by TMVP
Head Sivasuntharai Chanthrakanthan.
Chanthrakanthan known until March 10 only by
his nom de guerre Pillayan has been holding
hectic meetings one after the other to quell
the violence. He has met with Muslim
leaders, visited mosques and even a funeral
house of a Muslim woman who died on May 26
in Eravur. He has gone as far as admitting
that some of his own TMVP members may be to
blame for inciting violence.
His diplomatic efforts have been only
partially successful, tension and violence
have been sporadic, but fear has remained.
Due to violence
Relief workers in the district that still
has 18,000 IDPs and 124,000 new returnees
restricted work for a whole week, between
May 22 and 28 because of the violence.
Agencies have been fearful of getting caught
in the violence, as one unfortunate local
staffer of World Vision did on May 26.
He was returning home to Chenkaladi when he
ran into Muslim crowds on the main road near
the Eravur fuel station. He was set upon and
The attack meant that agencies were not too
keen to send staff out north or south of
Batticaloa if they were travelling through
the two troubled spots. Tamils were more
fearful of travelling.
There was more trouble in Kathankudi when
the body of a Muslim vegetable vendor was
just outside Batticaloa town on June 1
afternoon. The victim later identified as 45
year old father of three, Abdul Farook
Mohamed, was originally from Eravur but had
settled in Kathankudi after marriage.
Immediately after the news of the discovery
of the body on Shivanantha Road, Kalladi,
Kathankudi became tense with agitated youth
getting on to the streets and calling for a
three day work shutdown.
To defuse tension
The funeral of the victim was held the next
day, and reports in the area said some
religious and political leaders had called
for the funeral to be held on the same day,
June 2 in an attempt to defuse tension.
On June 3, angry Muslim youth had taken to
the streets to protest the murder that
increased the number of deaths since the
Shanthan assassination to seven, including
The tension in the area can be gauged by
what transpired on June 5. In the morning,
news spread like wild fire that two more
Muslims had been killed in the troubled
Arayampathi, where three Muslims were hacked
and killed on May 22.
Panic spread in Kathankudi and shops put up
shutters. By late afternoon what happened in
Arayampathi became clear. A Muslim who had
gone to the village had been threatened and
his shirt ripped off, leading to the rumour
that two Muslims had been hacked to death.
However, 14 Muslims including a school
principal were assaulted in and around
Kathankudi on June 5 by an unidentified
armed group during the morning tension when
crowds once again took to the streets.
Muslim youth who were on the streets in
Kathankudi also stopped public transport and
burnt tyres. One van travelling from
Kalmunai with Tamil passengers was stoned
just outside Kathankudi.
TMVP sources said the attack was on an
ambulance that was travelling from
Akkaraipaththu to Batticaloa with nine
patients and six medical staff. After the
attack on the vehicle, police in Batticaloa
had to face another protest by medical staff
over their security.
Later that day Police Headquarters said that
police had to be deployed in the area after
15 persons were injured when crowds took to
the streets in Kathankudi after the rumour
This is not the first time that rumour had
led to public unrest. It was the same
sequence on May 26 when rumours swept
through Eravur that a Muslim youth had been
abducted and panic spread with crowds on the
There was reason for the panic - two days
before, on May 25 two Muslims had been
abducted and then released by police but not
before they were assaulted at a TMVP camp.
Rumours led to street protests because no
amount of dialogue had helped to ease the
underlying tension between the two
Muslims in Kathankudi said that a van
carrying a delegation from the mosque was
also stoned just outside Batticaloa on June
5 late afternoon.
Two policemen were also shot and killed in
two incidents in Batticaloa on June 5. One
was shot near the Kalladi Bridge while
manning a checkpoint around 5.30, while the
other died when two police officers on
patrol were shot in a by-road. Both attacks
were blamed on unidentified gunmen riding
The TMVP also faced another threat when
Iyathurai Pushpanathan alias Kattalan, the
chairman of the newly formed Eruvil local
authority and Arasakonpulle Mohandas alias
Amburaj were shot and killed in Eruvil, on
June 3 morning.
The murders were blamed on the Tigers
operating in the Eruvil area that lies close
to the border with Ampara about 22 km south
It was a relatively quiet week in the
northern fronts. The government military had
suffered a Tiger assault on Cheerathivu
island west of mainland Jaffna on May 29 and
has taken more precautions to strengthen the
defences in the costal areas.
In the early morning of May 29 the Tigers
launched a sea borne attack on the small
detachment located on the island using at
least six boats. Two soldiers and a sailor
on duty at the detachment were listed as
missing during the attack which the Tigers
said was a 'success.'
The military said that it was able to beat
back the Tigers and a possible second wave
attack from the Kalmunai Point beach, in
Ponnaryn where the boats had originated
However six civilians in the Kolumbuthurai
and Gurunagar area on south western Jaffna
coast were killed when artillery fire hit
their homes on May 29 early morning.
Last week the army carried out a military
drill in the same area in the night.
"Security forces serving Kolombuthurai,
Gurunagar and Pasiur areas in the Jaffna
Peninsula with the intention of further
beefing up security arrangements in the area
conducted a security rehearsal beginning
late evening on Monday (2) .
The military rehearsal took place keeping
the movement of the public restricted in the
area after informing the public in advance
about the pending exercise. The requirement
was necessitated as part of the
precautionary measures being adopted
particularly in the aftermath of a rain of
LTTE artillery fire that struck
Jaffna on May 29 killing six civilians including all four in
the same family.
The civilians were requested well in advance
to keep off the roads during the rehearsal
to avoid any inconvenience to them.
Tiger terrorists in response to their
abortive attempt to storm Cheerathivu island
in the Peninsula went on directing a string
of artillery shells on populated areas in
The military exercise was completed during
the small hours on Tuesday," the army said
of the exercise.
Speculation has been rife within defence
circles that the May 29 early morning attack
was a dry run carried out by the Tigers.
The Tiger said that they had launched an
attack on a naval post on the eastern coast
of the Peninsula, at Nagarkovil, in the
early hours of the morning on June 5.
SLMC and TMVP trade charges
The SLMC and the TMVP last week traded
charges as to who was responsible for
the troubles in Kathankudi and Eravur.
The SLMC during a press briefing last
Thursday stated that the only way this
situation could be brought under control
was by confining the armed cadres of the
TMVP to the camps of the government
forces, if they could not be disarmed.
SLMC Leader Rauf Hakeem stated that
forces within the knowledge of the
government were behind the clashes in
He also urged Pillayan to take up the
responsibility and ensure that clashes
are halted and both communities live
Clashes are likely to occur in Pottuvil
as well following the abduction of nine
Muslims allegedly by the TMVP last
Wednesday, when they had gone to collect
firewood, Hakeem said.
Police confirm abduction
Hakeem said that they were kept at the
TMVP office in Bedagama, beyond Panama
and added that the Arugambay police had
confirmed the abduction.
"The police and the security forces have
come to a stage where they have to beg
the TMVP to release their captives."
The TMVP denied charges leveled against
the party and said the attacks were
carried out by persons such as
terrorists and political forces who had
faced defeat in the east at the recent
TMVP spokesperson Azath Moulana said
that the Chief Minister Sivanesathurai
Chandrakanthan intends to appoint a
committee to ensure peace between the
Muslims and Tamils.
"Representatives of both communities
will be included in the committee,"
Moulana told The Sunday Leader.
The ground situation in the two towns
however remained tense the whole of last
week, with Tamils passing through Muslim
areas and Muslims passing through Tamil
areas being attacked and stones thrown
at their vehicles.
The police imposed a curfew on Thursday
following the clashes. This however had
not stopped people coming to the roads
in anger against the attack on Muslims.
Sources in the area said there was an
increase in tension on Thursday though
it was the opposite that morning.
The houses of two journalists in
Kathankudi T.L.M. Joufer Khan and M.S.M.
Noordeen were also attacked during this
period of unrest.
A leaflet, supposed to be distributed in
the Muslim areas by the Muslims eight
days before the Provincial Council (PC)
polls was reproduced in Tamil areas as
This leaflet had also played a part in
triggering communal clashes in
Kathankudi according to reports from the
This leaflet was distributed among
households in Oddumavadi, Kathankudi
and Addalachchenai. All these areas are
occupied by Muslims.
The leaflet was reproduced in Tamil
areas in order to provoke enmity between
the two communities, the SLMC said.
The leaflet had originally been
distributed in support of the SLMC. The
SLMC Leader however denied any
connection with regard to distributing
of the leaflets.
Hakeem said that this leaflet was not
one written by a Muslim judging by the
terms used to address Allah.
The leaflet stated that the de-merging
of the north and east and the
announcement of the PC polls was the
wish of the Almighty.
It stated that the time had come for the
Muslims to chase away the Tamils in
Batticaloa as was done to the Muslims in
the north by the LTTE.
The leaflet, which was issued by a
movement called Jihad, also said that
the split between Karuna and the LTTE
was a ploy to win Eelam as it was not
- Arthur Wamanan