Sri Lanka deploy Security officers within Tamil majority campus

Security forces and police have been deployed within a university in Sri Lanka with a majority Tamil undergraduate population, the country’s police chief has revealed.

“In addition to officers in civvies, we have deployed a large number of officers within the Jaffna university,” Inspector General Pujitha Jayasundera has told a mainstream Sinhala nationalist newspaper based in Colombo.

The IGP has said that Intelligence officers have also been deployed in order to provide ‘security to Sinhala students’.

This is the first time Sri Lanka has admitted the use of security personnel within the Jaffna university while there had been no information regarding the presence of police or military within any other higher education institution in the island.

University student clash

Jaffna undergraduates have complained about security and intelligence officers in the campus who were accused of whipping up tensions in the university, causing a clash on 16 July during a fresher’s welcome.

Sinhalese extremist forces blamed Tamil students for attacking Sinhala students who tried to introduce a cultural performance at the event against the general consensus.

However, IGP Jayasundera has rejected such claims.

“Some sections are making bogus claims that there is a dangerous situation in the Jaffna university. But, there is no such a severe incident in the Jaffna Campus,” the IGP was quoted by the 'Divaina' daily.

Student security

Assuring the security of the Sinhala minority in the campus, University of Jaffna’s Student Union in a statement immediately after the student clash, demanded an immediate end to all military activities, that were disrupting the University's academic life.

The Northern Provincial Council calling for a ‘fully-fledged commission’ to inquire into the clash, slammed the imposition of Sinhala majority culture on Tamil Jaffna and the disproportionate military presence in the Province.

“At a time when the demographic pattern of the North and East after the War is being consciously changed, when the independent 'War Crimes' Inquiry is being dragged on indefinitely, when students from other Provinces are being admitted in large numbers into the Jaffna University, when such entrants are bent on forcing their arts and cultural background on the Jaffna soil, when there is reluctance and delay on the part of the powers in delivering political solution that would allow the Tamils to look after their political affairs in their areas of historical habitation, when there is a tendency to retain in the Province the Military far in excess of its the needs (seven years after the War) all these activities must be considered by such a Commission in consonance with the recent violence to determine whether all such activities added fuel to the behaviour of the students,” NPC Chief Minister CV Vigneswaran and Opposition Leader S Thavarasa said in a joint statement.

A three-member committee including Ceylon Electricity Board Deputy Director for the North D.K.P.W Gunatilleka, Senior academics Dr K Mugunthan and Dr PS Navaratne have been appointed to probe the incident.

A police team led by Jaffna Division Senior Superintendent of Police GB Stanislaus, and comprising of Assistance Superintendent of Police PMR Ambepitiya, Jaffna headquarters Inspector and the officer in charge of the Kopai police station, has been appointed to investigate the clash.