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No demilitarisation: Rajapaksa

[Express Buzz, Friday, 18 June 2010 09:57 No Comment]

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa told the 21 Tamil Nadu MPs who met him in New Delhi on June 9 that there was no possibility of "demilitarising" the Northern Province which had been the scene of the Tamil insurgency for three decades.

When the MPs from the DMK and the Congress asked him if it was possible to scale down the army presence in Jaffna and Wanni region, now that it was more than a year since the war ended, Rajapaksa said he could not compromise on security. "Even in India there are army camps in all kinds of places," he said, throwing the ball back into the MPs’ court.

A member of Rajapaksa’s delegation told Express that he went on to say that the army camps in the North were not being established in private lands but in state lands and forests, and that the common Tamil man was not being inconvenienced.

Police deployment: Sri Lankan Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MPs have been bitterly complaining that the Wanni region especially, is bristling with army camps with over 40,000 soldiers stationed there.

"The people do not want to see the vestiges of war any more, having suffered immensely from the conflict between the army and the LTTE for over 30 years," said a TNA MP. "We would like to see the police being in charge of law and order in the postwar situation, and not the army," said Sherine Xavier, a Jaffna resident who works for the Home for Human Rights.

In Jaffna, the police were mainly involved in traffic control not maintenance of law and order, which was being looked after by the army, she added.

The government’s answer to the increasing crime in Jaffna was greater deployment of the army, rather than the police, she added.

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