Traders undaunted by deaths

[TamilNet, Monday, 16 November 1998, 23:04 GMT]
Two more bodies were handed over to Mannar hospital by the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) through the Police at 3.45 pm today sources in Mannar said. In the report the Police had given to the hospital authorities along with the bodies, it is stated that the two had been found at Uylankulam by the security forces today.

However, residents living near the Uylankulam convent positions of the SLA said that they had heard gunshots around 7.15 pm last night. They also said that the 2 dead persons could have been among the 9, who are believed to have been shot or taken prisoner while crossing the road with essential items banned by the SLA from the areas it does not control.

Large numbers of displaced people since 1995 from Jaffna and Kilinochchi districts, due to offensives conducted by the Sri Lankan security forces have sought refuge in the western parts of the Vanni and are living under trying conditions.

The displaced people do not have regular sources of income. The uncertainty prevailing in the area due to the ongoing war has significantly affected the farmers and they are unable to carry out their farming activities.

Thus most of the displaced people depend on the small trade they carry out by buying essential items from SLA-held areas and selling them in LTTE-held areas.

Kerosene oil bought for Rs 11.90 can be sold at Rs.130 to 150 in the Vanni once its smuggled into the area. Even other essential items fetch high prices once they are taken into the LTTE-held areas across the border.

The SLA has imposed strict restrictions on the quantity of certain essential items which are not banned by the defence officials. Certain items like barbed wire, petrol, diesel, arms and ammunitions are strictly banned through gazetted notification.

Despite several traders being shot dead by the SLA, many of the displaced people are driven by desperation to take the risk and smuggle goods across the border.

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