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SLA, para military extort money from traders in Batticaloa

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 13 July 2011 11:42 No Comment]

Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers and cadres of para military groups under the guise of civil administration are allegedly extorting money from traders who come to Batticaloa town from Paduwaankarai area, sources in Batticaloa said. Sri Lanka army soldiers and para military groups are also being accused of forcibly taking produce brought by traders at several check points.

Traders from Paduwaankarai daily bring their produce including fruits, dry fish, and raw fish from tanks and rivers in their areas, vegetables and firewood for sale in Batticaloa town. They are stopped at checkpoints located at Paddiruppu Bridge, Manmunaiththu’rai, Ambalanthurai, Chengkaladi Karuththapaalam, Kiraan Bridge and Kavaththamunai via Santhiveali lagoon by members of the Special Task Force (STF) who forcibly take their produce.

SLA soldiers located along coastal areas visit fishing areas and are also accused of forcibly taking fish from the fisher folk without pay money.

Meanwhile, police personnel stop lorries and other vehicles transporting sand for construction of building with the permits issued by Divisional Secretaries demanding money from them citing several reasons, according to people engaged in building construction in the district.

Owners of tractors and others who are engaged in the production of cement blocks are also subjected to extortion. Motor Traffic police personnel are also engaged in extortion from owners of motor bikes and other vehicles threatening them to pay money to avoid court cases.

In the meantime, those who own liquor shops and bars in Batticaloa district allege that although they run their business legally by paying taxes and obtaining licenses, they are forced to pay monthly ransom to a para military group led by Pilliayan, also currently the Chief Minister of Eastern Provincial Council. They say that once in three months they are summoned to the EPC secretariat and briefed by EPC officials.

Owners of private business establishments in Batticaloa district are also threatened to pay a sum of money to members of State armed and cadres of para-military groups in addition to tax to the government.

All persons affected by the extortion and intimidation by armed forces and para military groups say that they avoid making complaints to the police fearing threat to their lives.

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