New licence rules hamper Jaffna travel
[TamilNet, Saturday, 01 June 2002, 11:47 GMT]
The Sri Lankan Army has ordered that all vehicles entering Jaffna through the Muhamalai check-point - and all vehicles on the roads in Jaffna - need to have Sri Lankan Motor Vehicle Authority-issued license plates. As a result, many people in the Vanni region are unable to travel to Jaffna, with only few vehicles having been able to obtain registrations with the SLMVA.
Most of the vehicles in the Vanni region have so far carried Tamil Eelam Transport Authority-issued license plates. Owners of these vehicles have not been able to obtain SLMVA license plates and registration papers because of government restrictions on the region.
When such vehicles arrive at the Muhamalai check-point, troops send vehicle - and their occupants - back into Vanni. Travellers have also complained of their license plates being ripped off their vehicles by troops at the checkpoint.
Notably, the LTTE members crossing Muhamalai for their political work continue to use Tamil Eelam Transport Authority-issued license plates.
The SLA's new ban is reminiscent of the ‘Sri’ agitation campaign in the mid-fifties, Tamil press reports say. At the time, Tamil people in the North and East protested vehemently at the introduction of Sinhala-only, and the Sinhala letter “Sri” in the SLMVA license plates. The Federal Party led by S.J.V. Chelvanayakam, sought parity of languages and demanded that a Tamil version of “Sri’ be allowed to be used in the Tamil areas.