Scrap pass plan, says Pararajasingham
[TamilNet, Friday, 28 January 2000, 19:38 GMT]
Joseph Pararajasingham, Batticaloa district Member of Parliament, has appealed to President Chandrika Kumaratunge to withdraw a proposed pass system for travelers from the Batticaloa district.
He said it may create a de facto separation of the northeast from the rest of the country.
In a letter to the President, Pararajasingham said that people and their elected representatives were deeply alarmed to hear of the proposal by the Defense Ministry to introduce a pass system to prevent the free movement of people within the island.
Already people undergo untold difficulties in travelling from Batticaloa district due to a number of security checkpoints, he said. The introduction of a new pass system would cause greater misery and inconvenience to the people of the district.
The proposed pass system would also lead to abuse because the power to issue passes for movement will lie in a few hands, said, adding that it is sadly reminiscent of the notorious pass system that prevailed in South Africa.
Meanwhile, the entire Batticaloa district today observed a 'hartal' in protest of the proposed pass system which is expected to be introduced with effect from February 15. The 'hartal' was called by the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party.
Students boycotted schools, shops were closed down and in some instances, army personnel reportedly threatened traders to open their shops. Local bus services were suspended despite th army's assurance that they would be given protection.
The majority of Government servants did not report for work and after 2 p.m. government offices were also closed down.