Investigate SL Minister Bathiyutheen along with Basil Rajapaksa, Muslims demand UNP

[TamilNet, Saturday, 25 April 2015, 16:34 GMT]
The people of Mannaar, Puththa'lam and Vavuniyaa have started to raise their voices questioning the credibility of the ‘new’ SL regime in Colombo, which has failed to arrest and investigate SL Minister of Industry and Commerce Mr Rishad Bathiyutheen over allegations of misappropriation of funds. Basil Rajapaksa, who was the former SL Minister of ‘Economic Development’ and Mr Bathiyutheen, who was the SL Minister for Resettlement, have appropriated large sums of the funds obtained for resettling the war-affected people, sections of Muslims in Puththa'lam and Mannaar accuse. At a meeting held in Temple Trees on Friday for UNP members from Northern and North-Western Provinces, Muslim members raised their voices against entertaining Bathiyutheen with a minister portfolio instead of investigating him together with Mr Basil Rajapaksa, who is now detained for investigations.

Pakistan's Ambassador [Right] hands over a cheque to Basil Rajapaksa and Rishad Bathiyutheen
Pakistan's Ambassador [Right] hands over a cheque to Basil Rajapaksa and Rishad Bathiyutheen
What happened to the funds obtained during the tenure of Pakistan's Ambassador Qasim Qureshi for establishing 220 houses for uprooted Muslims in Mannaar, question the Tamil-speaking Muslims in Mannaar. The funds were obtained in October 2014. Likewise, millions of rupees have been misappropriated in other projects under the previous regime, they accuse demanding thorough investigations on all the projects that have been implemented in Mannaar.

Muslims in Puththa'lam have complained that the SL minister had misappropriated up to 700,000 rupees per house in the 500 houses scheme implemented at Thillaiyadi. The initial money allocated for each of the houses was one million rupees, they say. The settlement is located on Puththa'lam - Colombo Road. The recipients of the lands have not received land deeds at several places, the Muslim beneficiaries complain. Many of the lands are still in the names of SL minister's men. Mr Bathiyutheen was deploying the funds for his supporters with the aim of strengthening his vote bank, they accuse.

In order to confront the widespread international criticism on the incarceration of Eezham Tamils at Menik Farm in Vavuniyaa, the previous regime of Rajapaksa announced a 180-day programme of resettlement and housing in August 2009. Basil Rajapaksa and Rishad Bathiyutheen were sharing the ‘benefits’ of the programme. The scheme was also exploited to the electoral benefit of All Ceylon Makka'l Congress led by Mr Bathiyutheen, the Muslims in Mannaar complain.

In the meantime, Tamil civil sources in Mannaar say that the SL Minister was also controlling the channelling of Indian Housing Scheme. Mr Bathiyutheen was punishing the Tamil officials with transfers and demotions while he was the minister of resettlement. He was controlling the housing schemes also as a co-chair of the development committee in Vanni.

Bathiyutheen defected from Rajapaksa's UPFA in December 2014. He was appreciating Basil Rajapaksa for his friendship while he announced the decision.

Apart from the exploitation of public resources, Mr Bathiyutheen was running a squad, which was creating communal tensions between the various religious sections of the Tamil speaking people in Mannaar. The SL Minister was severely censured for his comparison of the Bishop of Mannaar with extremist Buddhist monks in the South. The minister has also been alleged of letting lose his squad on the court complex of Mannaar.

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