Protests against vehicle ban
[TamilNet, Thursday, 12 March 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A meeting of the Batticaloa Traders' Association at Lake View Inn in Batticaloa town, drafted a memorandum to be sent to the Government Agent Batticaloa, and the Batticaloa District Civil Co-ordinating Officer of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), protesting against the regulations stopping vehicular traffic from Batticaloa to other parts of the Island at Mannampiddi on the Batticaloa - Polonnaruwa District border, said sources in Batticaloa.
Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham TULF MP and Mr. Alisahir Moulana UNP MP for Batticaloa were also present at the Traders' Association meeting.
The President of the Association Mr. Rajan Sathiyamoorthy presided.
The lorry owners of Batticaloa have been particularly affected by the clause in the regulations which demands that owners of the vehicles transporting goods from Mannampiddi to Batticaloa, have to be physically present at Mannampiddi when the transfer of goods from areas outside the Batticaloa District to vehicles which will transport the goods to Batticaloa takes place.
The regulations also require the Batticaloa traders who purchase goods outside the Batticaloa District to accompany the goods to Mannampiddi. They too have to be physically present when the transfer of goods takes place.
The traders are protesting that this process would lead to a massive increase in cost which will result in an upsurge in prices which they would not be in a position to pass on to the consumer.
The Lorry Owners Union of Batticaloa also met the Batticaloa District Civil Co-ordinating Officer today.
Meanwhile, Senior Superintendent of Police, Polonnaruwa, W. G. Wickramasinghe informed the Government Agent Batticaloa, A. K. Pathmanathan by fax that ambulances carrying emergency cases from Batticaloa would be permitted to proceed after the necessary checking at Mannampiddi.
Government vehicles going from Batticaloa to other parts of the island on official duty should carry written permission from the Batticaloa District Co-ordinating Officer Brigadier Zacki.
Despite this, according to the fax of the Polannaruwa Police, they will be detained at Mannampiddi for 24 hours for checking before being allowed to proceed.
Joseph Pararajasingham, Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) MP for the Batticaloa District has protested to the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence (MoD) about the regulations.
He said that the MoD has succeeded in transforming Batticaloa into what Jaffna was during the time restrictions were placed at Thandikulam on the movement of vehicles carrying goods to Jaffna.
"I fully appreciate the concern of the MoD and the need for security checks. But this does not mean that in the name of security, normal vehicles and free movement of passengers can be restricted to a point of taking revenge against a particular community. This will result in further discrimination and oppression of the Tamil community for no fault of theirs," he said.
Mr. Pararajasingham said that he hoped to raise the matter in Parliament and that the Members of Parliament representing the Batticaloa District might consider taking collective action to protest against the regulations shortly.
12.03.98 Batticaloa vehicles barred