by TamilNet, March 31, 2020
Occupying Colombo is introducing a military-controlled troika to each of the eight districts in the North and East to determine who is permitted to venture out during the lockdown, now imposed as a curfew to control the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, informed civil sources in Mannaar told TamilNet on Tuesday. A colonel-rank Sinhala military officer is liaising with a Sinhala Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) and an Additional Government Agent to administer a “pass system,” that determines who gets access to livelihood assets. Fishers, traders and farmers have to submit applications seeking permission to engage in their livelihood activities. The SL military is now in control of all aspects of civil affairs in the five districts in the Northern Province, sources attached to the district secretariats said.
Fishers, farmers and traders have to submit their applications to the SL military-controlled troika if they want to engage in their livelihood activities.
Access to essential supplies has become a critical issue as the reserves of cash and stocks start to run out for people who have been under curfew for the third week.
The shop-owners who need to pipeline their supplies from outside markets, often from South in Dambulla and Colombo, have to apply and gain a one-time pass for travel.
The SL military-controlled troika would process their application and make its recommendations to the Government Agent (District Secretary). After that, the GA has to forward the form for final permission to the district-level Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), who issues the permit.
The Paddy Marketing Board stores that come under the SL Ministry of Agriculture have limited storage capacity, and the local farmers are unable to supply their produce to other districts within the North-East.
Exploiting the prevailing situation in the North, traders from South with political connections to Sinhala politicians are buying the produce of Tamil farmers at a very low price, the farmers in Vanni complain.
The fishing communities have to document their needs from their fisheries societies, and the SL Fisheries Department has to be involved in the loop before the troika addresses their applications.
Occupying Colombo has also stepped up naval patrols. Although fishers gained access to the sea for four hours between 6:00 a.m and 10:00 a.m., their vessels are not allowed to reach the deep sea as during the times of war.
SL military has set up check-posts everywhere. Sinhala soldiers are chasing the people even when they go out for essentials when the curfew is relaxed for a few hours. The SL soldiers are returning those who are not wearing a face mask.
Such military presence and harassment are not seen in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa that border the Tamil districts.