SLA drops garrison move

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 April 2003, 14:17 GMT]
The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) Wednesday agreed to drop its plans to build a permanent garrison in Jaffna municipal lands close to Jaffna Fort and Library in the face of protests by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and several civil groups in the peninsula, sources said.

The SLA agreed to a suggestion in this regard at a discussion held Wednesday with the Defence Minister Mr.Tilak Marapone. A TNA delegation, which comprised parliamentarians Mr.R.Sampanthan, Mr.Jospeh Pararajasingham, Mr.A.Vinayagamoorthy and Mr. G.G.Gajendrakumar, participated at the discussion, sources said.

Defence Ministry Secretary Mr. Austin Fernando and the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Lionel Balagalle were also present with Minister Mr.Tilak Marapone, sources said.

The TNA delegation brought to the notice of the Defence Minister that there was no justification to shift the present military base to the new site near the Jaffna Fort as it belongs to municipal council. The office of the Jaffna Municipal Council is now functioning in a rented house as its own office building was destroyed due to the war. Furthermore the rest house was damaged by war. The move by the SLA to occupy these lands will deprive the right of the Municipal Council to build its office and the rest house in its land, TNA delegation pointed out to the Defence Minister.

The TNA delegation agreed to a suggestion made at the discussion to visit Jaffna on April 9 to continue further talks in shifting the present SLA Jaffna garrison to another site, sources said.

The SLA at present has its Jaffna garrison encompassing two hotels and about eighty civilians' houses between Stanley Road and Victoria Road in the heart of Jaffna town, sources said.


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