SLMC gets bargain, internecine clash in east

[TamilNet, Saturday, 14 October 2000, 12:50 GMT]
The Police announced and unofficial curfew in the Muslim town of Oddamavadi,35 kilometres north of Batticaloa, from 8 p.m. Saturday and called in the army to keep the peace following a rampage by supporters of National Unity Alliance (NUA) MP, Mohideen Abdul Carder, against persons who had worked for Mr.M.L.A.M Hisbullah, former Deputy Minister for Posts and a senior leader of the SLMC. (NUA is the multi-ethnic front of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress) Meanwhile, in Colombo, the 'co-leader' of the SLMC, Rauf Hakeem, said that his party will have two cabinet portfolios and four deputy ministries in the new government.

He said that the SLMC has also sought two MPs on the PA's national list on account of the total votes it garnered island wide in the polls to Sri Lanka's Eleventh Parliament.

SLMC sources in Batticaloa said that Mr.M.L.A.M Hisbullah who lost his seat in last week's elections to Parliament will either be appointed on the national list of the NUA or the seats allocated for the SLMC on the PA's national list.

One of his associates in the Muslim town of Kattankudy said that Mr.Hisbullah is likely to be made a cabinet minister in view of his position in the last government and in the party. A senior SLMC official in Ampara, however, declined confirm or comment on the matter.

The supporters of Mr.Mohideen Abdul Carder, the NUA candidate from Oddamavadi who was elected MP, smashed up a house of a person in this Muslim town who had backed Mr.Hisbullah during the election campaign. Another Hisbullah supporters motorbike was burnt by them. The marauding supporters of Mr. Carder stoned and threw fire crackers on the homes of Muslims who had backed Hisbullah in Oddamavadi Saturday. Three persons were also assaulted by them. The condition of one is serious, said the TamilNet's Valaichenai correspondent. Shopkeepers from Kattankudy, Mr.Hisbullah's home town, were threatened with violence, he said. All business were closed in the Oddamavadi and in the Muslim quarter of Valaichenai.

The attack on Hisbullah's supporters in Oddamavadi has its roots in a broken promise. The SLMC pledged to the Muslims of Oddamavadi and Valaichenai soon after the general elections in August 1994 that Hisbullah would be MP for three years and that Mr.Carder could take his place in the Parliament thereafter.

The promise was made by the SLMC leader Mr.M.H.M Ashraff in recognition of the overwhelming support the party had got from the Muslims of Oddamavadi and Valaichenai, particularly at the elections to the North-eastern Provincial Council in 1988 in which the SLMC was elected uncontested in this part of the Batticaloa district, although it was the first poll faced by the party after its inception in 1986.

But Mr.Hisbullah refused to give up his seat on the promised date.

The majority of the Muslims in Oddamavadi and Valaichenai were chagrined. Hence it was resolved unanimously by the mosque trustee boards of the two contiguous towns that the votes of the Muslims here would be cast undivided for Mr. Carder this time.

It was also resolved that no Muslim in Oddamavadi and Valaichenai shall vote for any party except the NUA or any NUA candidate except Mr.Carder. Hence the ire which burst into the open today against persons here who had backed Hisbullah.

The decision of the mosque trustee boards here was unanimous as it had been a long standing grievance among the Muslims of this once poverty stricken agricultural region that they had never been represented in the Sri Lankan Parliament since the island's independence 52 years ago.

Muslims in Batticaloa have been represented in the Sri Lankan Parliament either by powerful Muslim families from Colombo or from the towns of Eravur and Kattankudy from the middle and southern parts of this east coast district.


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