Hartal in Batticaloa against Muslim local body
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 06 November 2001, 09:37 GMT]
Shops, schools, businesses and public offices were closed and few people were on the roads in the Batticaloa district in response to a call by the Tamil national alliance for a general shut down (Hartal) to protest against the establishment of a new Muslim dominated local government body. Tamils say that the new local body, the Koralaipattu Central Pradheshiya Sabha, unjustly encompasses a large Tamil region in the northern part of the Batticaloa district. The Sri Lanka army warned Tamil shop owners in the Valaichenai that they should not close their establishments today. But shops were closed Tuesday morning. Soldiers who came to the Valaichenai bazaar later in the morning forced the owners to open their shops.
The local government body was established by a special gazette notification on the eve of the Parliament’s dissolution to cater to the Muslim population in Valaichenai, a town, 32 kilometres north of Batticaloa.
A leaflet issued by the Batticaloa North Alert Organisation accused former Deputy Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Mr. M. L. A. M Hisbullah of establishing the local body for personal political gain. It accused Mr. Hisbullah who is also a People’s Alliance candidate for the Batticaloa electoral district, of insidiously conspiring to create a Muslim enclave in a Tamil dominated region and to drive a wedge between the Tamils and Muslims in the east to promote his interests.
Ninety square kilometres of land from Tamil areas in Batticaloa north have been carved out and attached to the new local body. The Tamil villages of Aalankulam, Thekkanchenai, Punanai, Karadiurichcha Kulam and Navalady have also been brought under the administration of the Koralaipattu Central Pradheshiya Sabha.
A spokesman for the Tamil alliance said that similar local bodies were created in the central province to undermine the political influence of the Tamils in some parts of that province. “An administrative division was created in Akkaraipattu in the Ampara district under the PA regime with a similar aim. These are aimed at making the Tamils a minority in their traditional areas,” the spokesman said.