‘SLA, Police should vacate Batticaloa MC offices’

[TamilNet, Monday, 06 October 2003, 04:12 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army should remove its 23-3 brigade headquarters operating at the Batticaloa Municipal Council (MC) buildings and government employees’ quarters, and return the buildings to their rightful owners, the Tax Payers Association of Batticaloa (TPAB) has demanded in a letter to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, sources in Batticaloa said.

In the letter signed by the Association’s president, Mr. A. Nadesan, the TPAB said further, “the Municipal Council Building, library and many other buildings are owned by the tax payers. The buildings have been occupied by the Sri Lanka Army and Police for more than 10 years, and the Municipal offices are operating without any basic facilities.”

The SLA has been occupying the Municipal council building since 1990, and its 23-3 brigade headquarters is located there. The Weber playgrounds and the District Secretariat (DS) are located next to the Municipal office building, sources said.

Before the signing of the Ceasefire agreement (CFA) between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the SLA’s presence at the DS building was so heavy that the public could not visit the building to attend to official business. Since the CFA, the public is able to visit the building during restricted hours and the SLA is still maintaining a presence there.

There was a ban on using the Weber playgrounds until the CFA. Since then, the SLA allows the use of the playgrounds during certain limited hours.

However, the Municipal council building has been declared as falling under the SLA’s High Security Zone (HSZ) and remains occupied by the SLA. The public cannot enter the building, sources said.

The TPAB letter continued, “The Vehicles department of the Municipal council is operating in a temporary shed constructed close to the Batticaloa lagoon. The Arasady library is operating from a private residence and many residential quarters are no longer able to operate.

“The Municipality office building houses the brigade headquarters, and the Police have a sentry post at the Arasady library building. The Army and the Police should withdraw from these buildings and hand the buildings to the rightful owners.

“Though this matter was brought to the notice of various subcommittees meetings and in other instances, the SLA and the Police have taken no constructive step to vacate the buildings. The SLMM should therefore take appropriate action to return the buildings to the civilian owners.”


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