__________________________Eastern Tamil

The majority of the so called Eastern Tamil's, came much later in time. Althouth their were small fishing communities established during the Dutch periods...Please See...Link

This is confirmed by Viscount Torrington in 1848, who in his letters to the Colonial Office in London, confirms that the 'East is also ready for Malabar settlements as was done in Jaffna'. Following these, Governor Ward acts and starts this process in 1850. These letters suggest, not just bringing in a few people but removing entire Tamil villages and transplanting them into lands taken from Kandians, to be precise from Kandy to Trincomalee. These lands, were in fact the property of the Kandians that rebeled aganist British rule in 1846. Tennet in his letters to the Colonial Office, had suggested the idea of using the lands taken from the rebels, to colonanize in Sept 1847. Lord Grey even suggests having a Chinese community settled to these areas but that is rejected by Torrington, it would seem that isn't the plans on the mind of the British Goverment.

The Britishers reason behind the settling of Tamil's in the East is stated as to have them as "a Check Community". PLEASE FOLLOW, TO THE SCANS OF THE LETTERS....Link

Unfortunately for the British, the Indians brought over did not obey their commands of settling into the lands taken from the Kandyans. They were simple low caste fisherman and had no knowledge of agriculture.

According to W.W.Hume GA, Batticalao;

Nearly all had settled on the coasts and even in 1874 the majority were found on the coasts. In particular from Valaichchenai, twenty miles north of Pulyantu, to Trukkovil, fifty miles to the South, where villages, with some 70,000 people, formed an almost unbroken chain along and all within a mile or two of the sea shore and in fact were called the 'Pioneers'(Dictionary meaning-Colonists or New settlers in a New territory).

According to the 1879, administration reports of Batticalao;

These peoples were brought over for the purpose of the construction of the new road to Badulla. Also within the same report, we find that 40,000 tons of rice, were imported from India as these workers and the Coast Coolies engaged on the Madulsema estate, could not eat the rice of these area's.

After the road construction, these South Indian labourer's were used on the 25 coconut estates, make up of nearly 5000 acres of land. The largest of these been the J.Oucheilong estate covering 700 acres. Though these peoples after pressure from their own and their colonial masters, did move inland and start occupying Sinhala 'purana villages' and 'lands', given to them. In Tincomalee district, even in 1899, the lands given to these Colonizers, were still abandoned, as most stayed in the town.


As we have already pointed out by the time the whole island came under the British control in the early 19th Century, greater part of the Dry Zone was sparsely populated. Most of the interior dotted by numerous small tanks and also dilapidated large reservoirs had a Sinhalese population while there were pockets of Tamils along the coast. Dry Zone was a ‘terra incognita’ to the British due to either lack or limitation of communication facilities during their early occupancy. Until about the late 19th Century, due to the fact that most of their interests were concentrated on either military and political activities or the development of plantations, no deliberate attempt was made to engage the Dry Zone either militarily or developmentally. As Roberts (1972) puts it "till the late 1850 the British did little to remedy the state of affairs relating to irrigation facilities which they had inherited from the Kandyan Kings and the Dutch" (p„48)6. As a result the demographic process relating to the various ethnic groups, the depopulation of Sinhalese and their assimilation into the Tamil culture and the increase of Tamil population continued unabated. What is more significant is that even after the British carried out fairly extensive irrigation rehabilitation in the Dry Zone, these processes, at least some of them, continued to exist probably until as late as the last quarter of the 20th Century.

In laymens terms, many of today's Tamil population, is in FACT....Sinhala!

The early reconstruction of small irrigation works were mostly located along the coastal belt. Because of this and the fact that the British sold the land under reconstructed irrigation works, most of the rehabilitated lands had been bought up by non-Sinhalese. Even in the case of large schemes i.e. Allai and Giants the same process can be identified.

The early lead captured by the Tamils Chettis in the economic sphere not only rewarded them with a substantial capital, but also enabled them to invest it in buying up land developed under irrigation schemes. This in turn enabled them to take an early- lead in the economy in the maritime belt and the various service centres therein. This development further enhanced the immigration into the Tamil pockets in the eastern maritime on the one hand and also to the maritime interior on the other.

With the increase of Tamils in these areas there was the simultaneous process of depopulation of Sinhalese. This was partly voluntary on the part of the Sinhalese. However, one cannot and should not under-estimate the undeclared policy of Tamil bias by the British administrators and its outcome. For example as early as 1867 the Government Agent of Trincomalee explicitly showed the desire to form a large Jaffna colony in Kantale. E. B. Denham (1912) wrote "It was hoped that the completion of the northern railway in 1905 would bring settlers from Jaffna to Vanni and that in large extents of paddy land under irrigation work, notably under the Karachchi scheme, would be taken up by colonists from Jaffna"(Link)

The depopulation of Sinhalese in the east coast was widely reported by the various administrators and officials. After giving a description of Sinhalese villages, the Assistant Government Agent of Trincomalee District in 1867 reported that "the population of several of the villages has decreased". The Government Agent of Nuwarakalaviya District in 1870 reported that in his District many villages had for years been abandoned and they had lapsed to the crown11.(Table 1). Some of these villages, if not all, it can be safely assumed, were Sinhalese villages.


Number of villages abandoned or lapsed to the crown;

Year No of Villages

1865 9

1866 13

1867 15

1868 29

1869 34

1870 65

Thats 165 Sinhala Villages in a short period of just 5yrs.

Source: Compiled from Administration Report 1870, p.96


The adverse economic conditions in the interior of the Eastern parts of the island was very much contributory factor towards Sinhalese depopulation. The negligence on the part of the British in rehabilitation of traditional small tanks – the lifeblood of the peasant society in these areas made people depend almost entirely on produce of chena, a form of low intensity dry crop agriculture. The Government Agent of the Eastern Province warned that "unless the Government interpose, many of these villages are doomed to extinction within a few years".

As a result of this, the population of Bintenna decreased by 10% in 1883. In the outlying parts of the Batticoloa District, the living conditions of the Sinhalese and the Veddha population were very desperate and a large number of them migrated out of these areas during the latter part of the 18th Century. It is clear that the process of depopulation of the Sinhalese in sparsely populated Dry Zone had started even before the advent of the British and continued well into the early years of the 20th Century.

One of the most significant, yet hardly investigated or discussed facts about the changes in the ethnic population in the sparsely populated periphery is not one of spatial but sociological. It is a striking feature to observe, contrary to the popular and cultivated view held by both the Sinhalese and Tamils, that Tamils have been acculturated into the Sinhalese society, that the Sinhalese peasants who remained behind in the isolated rural villages in the Dry Zone periphery were in fact increasingly getting assimilated into the Tamil community. Then Assistant Government Agent Mr Lushington lucidly elaborated this process in his 1898 Administration Report:

This part of the District (Kaddukulam West) is inhabited by Sinhalese villagers of Kandyan descent forming an outlying community which is, I fear rapidly dying out or becoming effaced.

This District is most interesting, being dotted over by numerous village tanks, some of which are restored and others abandoned„ The villagers retain many of the primitive customs of the Kandyans, but they are rapidly becoming ‘Tamilized’, which is a great pity. They inter- marry with Tamils and many of them speak Tamil as well as they speak Sinhalese. Even the Government School Master is Tamil and only that language is taught in the only school and unfortunately in some cases lands in Sinhalese villages have been bought out by the Tamils, who now own all the paddy lands of some villages. The Sinhalese have given up their patronymics and adopted the Tamil custom of perfexing father’s name instead of the usual patronymic and even the names of the villages are are assuming a Tamil dress.

This perhaps not to be wondered at when the interpreters of the court and the Kachcheri, the petition drawers and all through whom the villagers have access to Government officers, can speak nothing but Tamil....(Link)

This is also the first self admission by British Administrators, that they were using the Tamils over the Sinhalese in government positions in these areas.

It can be safely argued that this process of assimilation was not limited only to the villages that came to the attention of the AGA in 1898. This process perhaps had been happening all along the interior and maritime areas of the north and east. At the same time, it can be confidently argued that this process might have started several centuries prior to Lushington’s observations and no doubt that it continued even after that. Although we lack documentary evidence for the earlier period, even as late as 1911, Denham (1912) observed: "The Sinhalese villagers of Kaddukulam Pattu appears to be decreasing in number or to become merged in the Tamil population."

Thus one can identify three mutually related processes happening in the sparsely populated Dry Zone periphery, which includes most of the present Eastern Province and southern Districts of the present Northern Province....Link



*In 1603, Sibald de Weerd arrived in Battecalao. Who records the Dissave of the region been 'Dermuts Inagedare. These are Sinhala words and 'Inagedare' is more than likely just a phrase meaning 'House he is in'. Also Sibald de Weerd, was entertained by King Wimala Dharma at Battecalao. Before been accidentally killed for insulting the Queen.

These events, shows two things;

  1. That the Sinhala King, was very much in rule of Battecalao.
  2. Because 'NO' mention is made of any Malabars and the name of the Dissave is Sinhala tongue, shows that it was certainly a Sinhala region during these times.

*The Dutch, unlike the Portuguese before them, vastly extended the area under their control and eventually took over the remaining harbors and completely cordoned off Kandy, thereby making the Kingdom landlocked and preventing it from allying itself with another foreign power.  This strategy, combined with a concerted Dutch display of force, subdued the Kandyan King's. Henceforth, Kandy was unable to offer significant resistance except in its frontier regions, which kept on changing from time to time. Despite underlying hostility between Kandy and the Dutch, open warfare between them occurred in 1762 and 1763 when Chilaw and Puttalam  fell and was regained. These events prompted the Council of Indies in Batavia to take energetic action against the King of Kandy. The Dutch, exasperated by Kandy's provocation of riots in the lowlands, launched a punitive expedition. The expedition of 1764 was complex and unsuccessful, but a better-planned second expedition in 1765 forced the Kandyan's to sign a treaty that gave the Dutch sovereignty over the lowlands.

*The Dutch in 1637 they signed a deal with the Sinhalese King to have berthing rights for their ships in harbours on the East coast, Trincomalee and Batticaloa during the monsoon rains, proving that the Eastern costal regions belonged to the Sinhalese in 1637.- and not to any Tamil Kingdom.

The Dutch-Sinhalese Treaty in 1766(Clauses 3,5,6 & 16) and the English-Sinhalese Treaty in 1815 (when total sovereignty was ceded to the British) easily illustrate that the East and the inland parts of Jaffna, were completely under Sinhalese sovereignty.

*During the 17th Century, the Company was engaged in a war of attrition with the King of Kandy, who had close ties with Ceylon's Buddhist population. There was a narrow tongue of land at Elephant Pass, a fort was built to guard the border with the king's territory. Elephants captured on Ceylon were herded past here to Jaffna to be sold in India, hence the name Elephant Pass.


Thus this shows that, even during the beginning of the Dutch rule. The Sinhale Kings rule and certainly a Sinhala populace extended to all lands up to Alimankada and beyond!

*In 1612, Rajasinhe, gave the Dutch his permssion to build a fort at Cottirama or Kottiyar, south of Trincomalee and in 1638 a formal treaty was signed. This then gave the Dutch permission to have Trincomalee and Batticalao. All these, very much apart of the Sinhala Kingdom.

*In 1672, the ports of Kottiyar, Batticalao and Trincomalee, were granted to the French by Rajasinhe and assistantance to the French on food and amunitions were also granted. The French on their part did.nothing but compalin about having not enough food. As the Sinhalese paddy fields, were damaged by the Dutch....What is more than apparent from these reports though, is the absence of any mention of any Malabars. Considering the French, were in the East for a period 3 years and had 'NOT' come in to Kandy, it is not a bad assumption to make, that 'NO' Tamil's were in the East during these times.

Also, they mention of the fact that the people of Ceylon, worship a different idol to that of the Malabar's and that they are called the Chingulay. Which shows, that the French had 'ONLY', encountered Sinhala Buddhists in the East!

..Buddha image of the 14th-15th Century, Trikkovil. The Siraspata, is unique to Sinhala Buddha statutes and is also found where, Sinhala influnece prevailed e.g. Thailand.

*The Dutch Governor of Trincomalee, Jacques Fabrice van Senden 1786, gives the first account of names of Eastern Vanniya cheifs....(Link)

*It must stated, that a small population of Kerala's were brought over by the Dutch and according to Flavious in his book, written in 1816; state that Batticaloa had only one school, which was a Sinhala school and the small community of South Indian labour force brought over, were settled on an island of the coast.

*Robert Knox, who landed at Kottiyar Bay was greeted by Kandians and then taken to Kandy. The tree, to which he landed at was in existence till the LTTE terrorists, cut in down.

*According to Philip Baledous, it was Mavil ganga that the Dutch had met King Rajasinhe for secret discussions on an alliance. Also it is stated that it was at Cottiarama that the King had his newly built naval fleet stationed. The Dutch fleet were stationed at Samantura, today's Samanturai.

*New1803, the Sinhalese of Bathkalawa, were partly exterminated and partly evicted from the district...Please See...Link

*According to Ceylon Administration records, the only place in the East where Muslim's had settlements were, Kinniya in the Eastern province. Their, they dealt with the timber trade.

*Assistant GA, G.E.Worthington, Batticaloa Katcheri 25, June, 1880;

Ad Report 1879:

There is ample work here for a European Superintendent, both on the South Coast road where another riot has just recently occured, and on the Badulla-Batticaloa road, where the lawlessness of the carters and others has driven away the Sinhalese previously living in the neighbourhood of the road.

*Administration report, 1898;

In the Eastern part of Kalmunai an organissed attack by the Moors on the Sinhalese, has driven many away.

*Even the extremely pro-Tamil historian Dr. Karthigesu Indrapala’s PhD thesis on Dravidian Settlements in Ceylon, University of London 1965;

No definite evidence regarding any significant Tamil settlement in the Batticaloa district of the Eastern Province, or in other parts of Southern Ceylon has so far come to light. It is possible that there were some Tamil settlers in the Battialoa district from the thirteenth century onwards. (page 233)



How Etipola Dissawe captured Trincomalee Fort

The 'TRUTH' on the temple of Gokarna!

Dry zone colonisation and myth of demographic displacement of Tamils....No Tamils were displaced between 1921 and 1971 in Anuradhapura

Dry zone colonisation and myth ofdemographic displacement of Tamils....The East: Population distribution in Ampara and Trincomalee

Dry zone colonisation and myth of demographic displacement of Tamils....Polonnaruwa district experienced large inflow of Sinhalese population.

Sinhalese assimilated into Tamil society in Dry Zone periphery

Viharadevi was born at Arugambay?

British Settles South Indians in East

Where have all the Veddas gone?

http://www.island.lk/2002/10/12/satmag01.html (Sites in Batticaloa & Ampara)
http://www.island.lk/2002/07/06/satmag01.html (Sites in Trincomalee district)


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