Meeting over evictions inconclusive

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 September 1998, 20:28 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) said today that it might consider a request to permit the beleaguered residents of Linga Nagar in Trincomalee town to thatch their roofs torn off by soldiers on August 9, 1998.

TULF's general secretary Mr.R Sampanthan MP for Trincomalee met the Sri Lankan Army commander Lt.Gen. Rohan Daluwatte, the commander of Task Force 3 ( Trincomalee) Maj.Gen. Nihal Jayakody and the Judge Advocate General of the SLA Brig. M.J Samarakon at the army HQ in Colombo this morning at 10 a.m. to discuss the predicament of Linga Nagar.

Mr. Sampanthan had asked that the residents of Linga Nagar be permitted to take thatch through the military barricade that was set up recently at the entrance to the suburb so that they can repair their roofs before the monsoon rains.

The army brass had informed him that they want the residents of Linga Nagar to leave the place because their presence posed a security problem.

"The LTTE might infiltrate through Linga Nagar" they told the TULF MP.

However, they may consider permitting residents to take thatch through the military barricade sources close to the MP said. He said that the hour- long discussion this morning yielded no tangible results.

Mr. Sampanthan had pointed out that when the army had sought to evict the residents of Linga Nagar in the early nineties on the grounds it was too close to its firing range, Lt.Gen. Nalin Senivaratna, who was then the Governor of the north-eastern province, had ruled that the should army relocate instead of evicting the population.

The MP had also argued that there was absolutely no evidence to show that the army ever owned any part of Linga Nagar.

The Sri Lankan army and Sinhala officials have been trying to forcibly evict the residents of Linga Nagar since 1990. Their latest attempt began on May 12, 1997, when the Divisional Secretary (DS) of Trincomalee town and Graveats issued eviction notices on residents on the instructions of the army.

When this failed to produce the desired result, the DS filed action in courts six months ago to proceed with the eviction.

Then on July 15 this year, while action was still pending in courts, the army barricaded the only entry point to Linga Nagar unannounced and put up a signpost which said "Army land. No Entry!".

Residents were forced since then to go through the military checkpoint here. The placed was fenced off with concertina and residents were refused permission to take any building materials, including thatch, through the checkpoint to Linga Nagar.

Matters came to a head around 11. 30 a.m. on August 9 when the army set fire to the thatch on houses in the area. Local

Tamil politicians protested to the Sri Lankan President but there was no change in the army's determination to evict the people of Linga Nagar.

Mr.Sampanthan's meeting with the army brass today is a face saving measure for the party in Trincomalee said an informed source in the eastern port town.


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