Demonstrators seek free access to Valaichenai intersection

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 01 October 2002, 11:20 GMT]
More than a thousand protestors demanding the opening of the Valaichenai junction on the Batticaloa-Colombo highway Tuesday smashed road barriers and damaged a Police jeep when Sri Lankan security forces occupying the key intersection declined to accede to their request.

The protest began in the early hours of the morning as hundreds of people from the Valaichenai town and surrounding villages sat across the junction and in front of the Police station straddling the intersection, urging the S.L security forces to open the road to the public round the clock under the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Liberation Tigers and the Government of Sri Lanka.

Smashed Police jeep.
Angry protestors smashed the windows of a police jeep, during the demonstrations held in Valaichenai, 1 October 2002. under a tree.
The Sri Lanka Police occupies the junction and several public and private buildings there. The main part of the intersection remains blocked permanently. Part of the junction was opened last month for the public from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. after many requests from local residents and politicians.

The key junction, along with many shops, buildings etc., was inside a heavily fortified camp for more than 12 years.

An altercation erupted when the Officer in Charge of the Valaichenai junction Police station, Mr. H.K.D.M Podimathaya and the Assistant Superintendent of Police for the area, Mr. S. M Jayatilaka told the protestors that they cannot open the intersection roads as they had no orders from higher authorities to do so.

Valaichenai demonstration

A crowd of angry protestors smashed the name board of the Police station and destroyed more barriers on the road. The crowd was further inflamed when a Police constable at the scene hit a boy among the protestors. The crowds then smashed the windows of Police jeep parked there.

Meanwhile, conference was held between the civil affairs officer of the Sri Lanka army’s 23-2 Brigade in the Valaichenai paper factory, Major Bertie Perera, local officials of the LTTE, the parish priest of the Valaichenai St. Theresa’s Church, Rev. Alex Norbert and the Police to bring the situation under control.

Following the discussion the protestors were asked to give time until 7 October when the Police would be in a position to take a positive decision on the road opening.

Valaichenai demonstration
Protest in the eastern town of Valaichenai, demanding the opening of Batticaloa-Colombo highway.

 

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