2ND LEAD

Tamils ordered to vacate lodges in Pettah

[TamilNet, Thursday, 31 May 2007, 15:57 GMT]
Tamil owners of 68 lodges in Pettah (Peaddai) Police Division in Colombo have been instructed by the Police Officer in Charge of Pettah to immediately expel around 5000 Tamil tenants from Northeast and Upcountry, currently staying in 68 lodges in Pettah, to their "native places" within 24 hours before the military is deployed to forcefully transport the inmates. Chief Inspector Jayaratne, the OIC, Thursday evening summoned the owners of the lodges on short notice to convey the warning, lodge owners told media. Tension prevails in Pettah as Tamil parliamentarians were trying to get in touch with the Sri Lankan government officials.

The OIC issued a 24-hour deadline to vacate tenants from Northeast and Upcountry.

People who come to Colombo from Northeast, stay in lodges. Individuals who have come for medical treatment from remote areas, individuals who were waiting to go abroad for education or employment, families on reunion staying in Colombo with their family members visiting from abroad and those who have come with military clearance are among more than 5000 Tamils who are instructed to vacate the lodges, according to lodge owners in Pettah.

Upcountry Peoples Front (UPF) and Western Province People's Front (WPPF) parliamentarians who contacted the defence establishment in Colombo, said they have sought assurances from the government authorities that nobody would be forced to vacate or close down lodges based on their ethnic identity.

"Even those who were scheduled to leave Colombo to India on Sunday were not allowed to stay in the lodges after Friday," a lodge owner told TamilNet.

"Are you from North, go back to Vavuniyaa. Are you from Hatton, go back to Hatton," the OIC has told the lodge owners stating that he had clear instructions from higher authorities.

The chief inspector has given a strict warning, saying that he would not be entertaining complaints on missing persons if the lodge owners did not adhere to the instructions from the top authorities.


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