Eastern Tamils oppose merger of Universities

[TamilNet, Monday, 26 February 2007, 00:32 GMT]
The initiative of the Deputy Minister of Higher Education, 'Myown' Mustafa to amalgamate the Eastern University of Sri Lanka (EUSL) with the Muslim-dominated South Eastern University, faces stiff resistance from Tamils and Muslims living Batticaloa district, sources in Batticaloa said.

Mr. Mustafa expressed his willingness to merge both the universities together in a high level meeting held last Thursday at the Auditorium of the University Grants Commission (UGC) in Colombo, sources said.

Batticaloa district Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarians expressed concern, and vowed to stop the move. Amalgamation will intensify the division among the Tamil and Muslim communities, the MPs said.

"Only recently Batticaloa district has been declared a backward district, and that enables more poor Tamil youths to study at the EUSL. Furthermore, the Medical Faculty is about to be inaugurated at EUSL after a long time demand.

"Amalgamation will amount to a betrayal of the Tamil students," the MPs said. "We would bring the matter to the attention of Sri Lanka's President," they added.

S. M. Amir Ali, the Deputy Minister of Disaster Management, and the Member of Parliament for Batticaloa district swore that he would never allow the EUSL is amalgamated with any other university while he is in power.

Meanwhile, the undergraduates and their parents are planning to express their opposition to Deputy Minster Mustafa when he presides a meeting at Vipulanantha Aesthetic Studies Centre at Kallady Monday to explore ways to reopen the EUSL.

The activities of the Eastern University came to a standstill after the Vice Chancellor (VC) of the university, Prof. Sivasubramaniam Ravindranath, was abducted in daylight in Colombo on 15 December 2006. After his resignation was accepted by the UGC, the acting VC, Dr. N. Pathmanathan, took steps to reopen the university. However, the arrests and detention of some undergraduates and staff of the university following a claymore explosion along the main road near the university on 31 January hampered the initiative.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minster of Higher Education Mustafa dismissed the speculation as the 'work of sensational media.' Mr Mustafa told TNA parliamentatarin Mr Ariyanenthiran that he stood for the unity of Tamil and Muslim communities.

Mr. Mustafa, nominated to the Parliament under the United National Party's (UNP) National List, recently crossed over to the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) coalition Government and was offered the Deputy Minister post.

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