Sri Lanka military dumps Tamil traditions in taking over civilian duties

In yet another act of brazen militarisation in Northern Sri Lanka, a top army commander snubbed civilian officials and bypassed traditional customs, deeply hurting the feelings of Tamils.

On Monday, Mullaitivu Army Commander Major General Jagath Ratnayake, leading an armed unit of soldiers, took upon himself to release the excess water from reservoir, a duty formally assigned to civilians and shunning the customary Hindu blessing ritual in the process.

As incessant heavy rains have filled up all tanks to the brim in Mullaitivu the spillway gates of ‘Muttaiyankattu Kulam’ the largest reservoir in the district had to be open for safety reasons.

So far, the release of waters from water bodies have been done by the civil administration. Normally traditional prayers are offered at the site while the shutters are opened. However, this time civil officials from the irrigation department were present to show the works, locals say the entire operation was managed and conducted by the military led by a Sinhala Buddhist commander.

Even before the senior irrigation officials could complete offering traditional blessings, the military officials opened the spillway gates.

But keeping the tradition alive, despite the military indifference, the head priest along with civilian officials conducted the traditional prayer after the military opened their gates contrary to the age-old practice.

Military in anything and everything

Decorations made at the spot earlier by troops were pulled down after pictures and videos went viral on social media condemning ‘military in anything and everything’.

Locals allege the military is taking over the civilian jobs including menial ones like cleaning and that deprives them of employment and livelihood opportunities. They point out that even serving refreshments at the event was done by the military and not civilians.

Twenty-five military officers have been appointed to command Coronavirus control efforts in every district. They are led by Commander of the Army and Head of the National Operations Centre for Prevention of COVID -19 Outbreak (NOCPCO) General Shavendra Silva.



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