Islamic group threatens journalist

[TamilNet, Monday, 03 June 2002, 22:18 GMT]
Mr. Senathirajah Jeyanandamoorthy, the correspondent for the Tamil dailies Virakesari and Thinakkural, in Valaichenai, 32 kilometres north of Batticaloa, said Monday he was threatened by an armed group backed by local Muslim politicians for his coverage of a simmering dispute in the region over the creation of an administrative division which Tamils oppose on the grounds that it grabs their lands and is meant as another ethnic wedge to disrupt the contiguity of the Batticaloa district. Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy said that the group, comprising mostly Muslims who deserted the Sri Lanka army and ex home guards, vowed to kill him in a warning delivered Monday.

Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy has been regularly covering all aspects relating to the creation of the Koaralaipattu Central Division in Batticaloa north. The reports appear to have angered Muslim politicians in Valaichenai and Oddmavadi who have been coaxing the Peopleís Alliance and UNF governments to establish the Division, according to Mr. Jeyanandamoorthy.

The Koaralaipattu Central Division in Oddamavadi, 34 kilometres north of Batticaloa, was opened on 24 May by Mr. Earl Gunasekera, the Minister for local government.

Tamils opposed the opening of the division in November last year. The Tamil National Alliance and local Tamil civil society groups called a general shut down in protest. Demonstrations were held in Vaakarai against the Koaralai Central division earlier.

Tamils say that the division has been carved out to grab a large swathe of land that belongs to them. A senior columnist for the Sunday edition of the Virakesari argued on Sunday that the division has been created with a view to driving a Muslim dominated wedge into the northern part of the Batticaloa district that would break the geographical contiguity of the east.

"The creation of the division has been in dispute for many years. The local leaders of the SLMC should have tried to resolve the problem by discussing it with Tamil politicians and the Liberation Tigers in accordance with terms of the memorandum of understanding the Muslim Congress leader signed with the Mr. Pirapaharan", said Tamil National Alliance MP for Batticaloa Mr. Gnanamuttu Krishnapillai, commenting on the issue.

"Some Muslim politicians are trying to propagate impression that the leadership of the LTTE supports their actions. They say the culprits are eastern commanders of the Tigers who are bent on subverting the rapport Mr. Pirapaharan and Hakkeem. Their ulterior motive is apparent. Naively they attempt to instil the impression that there is a rift between the LTTEís eastern leaders and those in the Vanni," the MP said.


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