The Muslims’ Quest for a Kalmunai Administrative District in South-Eastern Sri Lanka: An Analysis of the Challenges from Their Community and Politics

  •  Mohammad Agus Yusoff    
  •  Athambawa Sarjoon    


The Muslim community living in the “South-Eastern Region” of Sri Lanka has long been urging the government authorities to establish a separate Kalmunai administrative district carved out of the coastal belt of the present Amparai district, as an institutional mechanism to improve public service delivery and development administration functions in the region. However, the establishment of the Kalmunai administrative district has continually been challenged, receiving criticism and oppositions from different sources, including from the Muslim community and its politicians. This study analyzes the perspectives of Muslim community and its politics towards the demand for the Kalmunai administrative district and its impacts on the political advocacy and methods to achieving it. This study has found that there are different and contradictory perspectives on the matter of the Kalmunai administrative district among the Muslim political parties and in different segments of the community. It is also discovered that the public understanding on the subject of the proposed district is very minimal. The establishment of the proposed Kalmunai administrative district has frequently failed on many crucial occasions mainly due to the lack of consensus among the Muslims leaders regarding the contested subjects of the proposed district. Additionally, this study has observed that the Muslim leaders have conceptualized the proposed Kalmunai district purely based on ethnicity only and have failed to justify it on public and rational grounds. The study has further found that the establishment of the proposed Kalmunai administrative district and its purported positive impacts would strongly depend on making the demand for the proposed district a more secular and public one.

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