'SLA's HSZ in Nagarkovil prevents resettlement'

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 July 2003, 02:03 GMT]
The Hindu Cultural Affairs Minister in the United National Front government of Sri Lanka, Mr. T. Maheswaran, and the Jaffna government agent (GA), Mr. S. Pathmanathan, Monday morning visited the Nagarkovil area in the Jaffna district to inspect the conditions for resettlement in the area, and said that the conditions there are not yet conducive to resettling people, sources in Jaffna said.

The people of Nagarkovil who were displaced by the SLA occupation of Nagarkovil and are living in Vadamaradchi East for a long time as refugees have been repeatedly appealing to the GA that they should be allowed to resettle in their own homes.

Minister Maheswaran and the GA inspected the conditions for resettlement and returned to Jaffna Monday afternoon, the sources said.

When contacted by TamilNet, Minister Maheswaran said that he and the GA did inspect the Nagarkovil area, but “it is not possible at this time to resettle the people as the Sri Lanka Army has several large bases there and the SLA has the declared the area as a High Security Zone (HSZ).”

He said that resettlement would be possible if there were progress in peace talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, but “it is difficult to resettle the people now.”

“All the roads in the area have been destroyed and a great deal of development work will have to be done,” said Minister Maheswaran.

The people of the area were critical of the Minister's efforts and say he should do more to resettle them. Mr. J. Ananthamoorthy of the Nagarkovil people’s organizations told TamilNet, “It is our traditional land, and only the people should live in Nagarkovil. The Sri Lanka armed forces should withdraw from the area completely.”

Criticizing Mr. Maheswaran, Mr. Ananthamoorthy said that the Minister had accepted the SLA’s explanations, “without making any effort to remove the SLA from the area and resettle the people there.”

Mr. Ananthamoorthy said that there was no justification for the SLA to have constructed camps in the area and occupy the people’s homes and then declare a HSZ in the area. “The Minister should bring the situation to the UNF government’s attention and take action to resettle the people in Nagarkovil,” he stressed.


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