Villagers harassed into leaving

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 August 1998, 23:59 GMT]
A barbed wire fence and a 'no entry' signboard put up by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) at Linganagar, 1 km from Trincomalee, has prompted five civic organisations to voice their concern in public.

The organisations hope that the matter will be taken up at a high level conference to be summoned by the Sri Lanka President soon, said sources in Trincomalee.

The five organisations from the Tamil village; the Lingnagar Gramodaya Sabhai, the Lingnagar Rural Development Society,the Linganagar Sports Club, the Young Men's Hindu society (YMHA) and the Murugan Kovil Administration Society have stated in a note sent to journalists, that on July 15, the SLA declared the area near the Murugan Kovil as Army territory and forbade trespassing.

This follows almost two years of harassment which has left only 100 of the original 265 families still living at Linganagar, said sources.

The statement describing the problems of the families at Linganagar stated that when they first came up for redress in 1992, President Ranasinghe Premadasa appointed a two-man committee to report on the tensions between the SLA and the Tamil families.

When the report was completed the two Sinhala members of the Committee refused to sign it.

However, acting on its recommendations Nalin Seneviratne, Governor, Northeast Provincial Council (NEPC) wrote to the SLA stating that this was a civilian area and that the firing range the military was using, which was in close proximity to Linganagar, should be shifted.

This was followed in October 1996 by 40 families being forcibly moved out of the area and the SLA setting up a checkpoint nearby.

The families have filed cases in court which are pending. Over the years the another 150 families left the village and only 100 families remain. The letter also said that of the approximately 100 houses only 10 had asbestos roofing the others were covered by cadjan.

But since the SLA did not allow cadjan, wooden poles and cement to be transported to the area, the houses were in a bad state of repair with crumbling walls and leaking roofs. What was more, the houses of the 150 persons who left Linganagar, have been demolished by the SLA. The letter concluded by imploring assistance for the residents of Linganagar.

Meanwhile, a high level conference summoned by the Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunga will include senior officials of the SLA and Members of Parliament of the area, said sources.

 

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