Vanni MPs slam SLA for blocking resettlement

[TamilNet, Friday, 20 September 2002, 22:54 GMT]
"If Mannar and Vavuniya districts are to be developed the Sri Lanka armed forces have to vacate our homes, and agricultural lands. We are not asking for houses or buildings in Anuradhapura and Madawachchiya. We are only asking permission to go back to our homes, to the lands of our forefathers," said the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Vanni district parliamentarian Mr.Sivasakthi Anandan addressing a conference held Friday at the Mannar district secretariat on resettlement.

He charged that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) was not co-operating to restore peace and normalcy in Mannar and Vavuniya.

"I visited Kothandanochchikulam village, south of Vavuniya yesterday along with people displaced from the area. We were stopped on the way by Colonel Manamaduwa of SLA, who is in charge of the area. He told us that as long as he was in charge of that place no villagers can resettle. "I wont give permission even if the Defence Secretary asks me to do so. You tell Mr. Austin Fernando that he will have to transfer me out of this area if you want to resettle anyone here," the SLA colonel was quoted as saying, according to the MP.

Mr.Sivasakthi Anandan further said during the discussions with the Defence Ministry Secretary on September 14, it was agreed that people who were displaced from Kothandanochchikulam can resettle and start cultivation. "Mr. Austin Fernando asked the Vanni MPs to visit the area and assess the resettlement situation in that village and the surrounding areas," the MP said.

TNA Vanni district parliamentarian Mr.Raja Kuhaneswaran said, "the instructions of the Defence Ministry Secretary on resettlement have not been carried out. He has not delivered anything on the promises that he made in Vavuniya on September 14. This conference is a sham."

A former United National Party (UNP) candidate and a community leader from the village Nagathalvu, Mr.Sinnathamby Ponniah said, "the people of my village and I owned hundreds of acres of rice fields twelve years ago. Today I am struggling even for a kilo of rice."

"The Mannar district secretariat looks like a military fortress today. Why should the armed forces continue to occupy the district secretariat after so many months of peace and ceasefire? The district secretariat is meant for the people," Mr. Ponniah said.

"There are electrical fences along police defences on the Mannar-Madawachchiya road even now. Why do we need this now?" Mr. Ponniah queried.

The conference was attended by the Mannar Government Agent Mr.V.Visuvalingam, TNA parliamentarians Messrs Sivasakthi Ananthan, Deputy head of political division of the Liberation Tigers for the Mannar district Mr.M.Arunothiam, two officials of the LTTE administration Mr.S. Iynkaran and Mr.A.Joseph, the Commander of the SLA's 21-2 and 21-5 Brigades in Mannar, the Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr.J.K.N.Nanayakara, Mr. Henry Gerangson, head of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in Mannar, Divisional Secretaries for Mannar, Manthai West, Nanattan, Madhu and Musali and the President of Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Societies and other officials and community leaders.

 

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