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Indian Special envoy must not take a guided trip

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 3 August 2010 08:12 No Comment]

Any special envoy that India might send to get first-hand information on the resettlement and rehabilitation of Tamil war refugees in Sri Lanka’s  northern province should avoid going on a government-held tour, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) has said.

“The Indian special envoy must go to the spot and see the refugees independently of the government of Sri Lanka. He could go with the help of the officials of the Indian High Commission here,” said TNA MP for Jaffna district, Suresh Premachandran.

According to TNA MPs Premachandran, M A Sumanthiran and Sivasakthi Anandan, about 3,000 refugee families are leading a nomadic lifestyle in makeshift shelters and under trees. Some are in schools and other transit shelters, they add.

Though released from the main refugee camp in Vavuniya four months ago, they had not been allowed to go back to their villages, the MPs told the media here on Monday.

About 288 families from Shanthapuram are still in a transit camp at the Kilinochchi Central College. Likewise, 400 families from eight other villages are languishing in various places outside their villages.

INDIAN-ORIGIN TAMILS

The case of 1,000 families from Thirumurigandi is particularly pathetic. They are Tamils of Indian origin who were driven out of central and western Sri Lanka during the 1977 and 1983 anti-Tamil riots. They had settled in the Thirumurigandi area after clearing the jungle. They had also acquired legal titles to these lands. They were, however, not allowed to go back to their villages when they attempted to do so last month, the TNA leaders said.

The army stopped 281 families from returning to Shanthapuram, the TNA said. On the one hand, civil authorities were asking them to get back to Shanthapuram, and on the other, the army there was not allowing them to enter it, the party member added.

Three attempts to return had failed, the refugees from Shanthapuram told President Mahinda Rajapaksa when they met him in Kilinochchi last month.

Thirty-five families from Ponnagar, who had gone back, were not given back their houses on the grounds that the LTTE had given them these houses.

“For the last three days, these families are living under trees,” Premachandran said.

The TNA MPs said the army had taken over thousands of acres of cultivated land for military purposes.  Premachandran said 4,180 acres in Thirumurigandi, 400 acres in Mannar; and 2,000 acres in Mullaitivu had been taken over to settle one lakh troops and their families.

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