A Sri Lankan Tamil party delegation today (Oct. 10) impressed upon visiting Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai that finding an early solution to the ethnic question will be the only answer to many serious issues faced by their community.V. Anadasangaree, D. Siddharthan and T. Sritharan representing the Tamil United Liberation Front, PLOTE and EPRLF Pathmanabha faction met Mr. Mathai at India House in Colombo.
A joint statement issued by the parties after the meeting said they had discussed various matters, considered as urgent and important in the present context.
The statement reads:
We take this opportunity to thank the Government and the people of India for the massive support rendered to the victims of war and for continuing to do so. The assistance came in different kinds to meet the basic requirements of our people for which we express our gratitude on their behalf.
The people of the North and the East still undergo severe hardships not only due to the after effects of the war but also more due to the Government, trying to implement its own agenda of settling people of one ethnic group amidst another ethnic group, deliberately to change the demographic pattern of the area. Various merciless tactics are adopted to achieve this, at a time when the IDPs still mourn the deaths of their dear ones and for the loss of all their belongings. With the war memories still haunting them, the situation prevailing here keeps them in constant fear and tension. The people are highly perturbed over the activities of the Armed Forces, busy building Army Villages, mini-army camps in the midst of settlements, many war memorials etc. The people who had very bitter experiences extending to a period of over 30 years are panicked that they are in for further subjugation, for an indefinite period. The Government has no plans for demilitarization, contrary to which the Forces are involving more and more in Civil Administration. The people cannot have any function without the participation of some army personnel. The people are terrified over the presence of army personnel in every nook and corner of the North. Much against Government’s claim, the problems the people face today have increased several folds.
The people who had lost all their belongings acquired over a period of several years and some of their close relatives are not in a mood to show their protests. They are scared to show any passive resistance even against matters that seriously affect them. This situation did not prevail even during the colonial days. The Government does things which under normal circumstances will never dare to do.
Coal Power Project:-For this project in Shampor in the Trincomalee District the Government had taken over 8000 acres which we believe as too excessive. These are private lands owned by about 1400 families, now accommodated in refugee camps for years. At least half of this land could be released to the owners for whom the Government had offered only 20 perches per family elsewhere. The Government is obviously having its own plans for holding this 8000 acres. We urge that the Indian Government should intervene in this matter and have the excess land released to the owners. Since people believe that the Government is planning to use this excess land for one of its settlement schemes, action should be taken without delay.
Re – demarcation of Administrative Districts and Divisions: – One cannot, under any circumstances, justify the demarcation of administrative districts and division in the war affected areas, at a time when most people had not returned to their respective homes. The most unreasonable proposal of the Government is to create a new Divisional Secretary’s Division in Mullaitheevu, where several outsiders are already settled with Government assistance, while the originally displaced people are still in camps. The new division is created by taking away 8 grama sevaka divisions and annexing them to another area which has a population of only 9000 people, to justify for a new D.S.Division, for another ethic group. This move will cause immense hardships to the residence of the 8 grama sevaka divisions. The new division will have its office far away from their homes. When people are still undergoing immense hardships, is the creation of a new D.S.Division, to favor another ethnic group, necessary now.
Authority over lands: – The Government’s latest move to have all lands re-registered is unjustifiable and has created a lot of suspicion in the minds of the people. Why should the Government do it in areas where people have not yet properly settled, some have not yet identified their lands and some had gone aboard. Above all a lot of people died during the war. What and what property and where these lands are, is still not known. The Government must abandon the move forthwith.
All this mess is created due to the Government’s failure to find an early solution to the ethnic problem. A solution acceptable to the minorities should be found and the entire civil administration should be left in the hands of the civil administrators without the Government interfering in everything. We strongly urge that, finding an early solution to the ethnic problem will be the only answer to these and many other problems.