Sri Lankan Tamils suffer
War chased her from one place to another, but when 69-year-old Thamizh Selvi finally wanted to settle down in her hometown in northern Sri Lanka, fate had different plans for her.
“We lost everything in the war, but we hoped that the Indian government’s scheme to construct 50,000 houses for the war-affected will help us rebuild our lives. But now that hope is also almost shattered,” says a tired Selvi.
The gesture of the Indian government to construct 50,000 houses might be a well-meaning one, but trouble is with the way the scheme is being implemented.
The local government authorities in the north, including Jaffna, are insisting that the beneficiaries produce 10 documents to avail of a house under the scheme.
According to the intimation letter sent by the authorities, a copy of which is available with Deccan Chronicle, of the 10 documents, one is a certificate from the village officer or a divisional secretary that the beneficiaries do not own a land or house in the areas they had previously lived in.
“This is a cruel joke. Before coming back to our hometowns after the war, we lived in camps. Some of us still do. Some fled to other parts. Where do we go for a document saying that we do not own land or house? We have lost everything in the war,” says 29-year-old Premanandam, a resident of Kilinochi.
The beneficiaries say while nine documents could be produced, this one is impossible.
Mr N.G. Basheer, former deputy mayor of Jaffna, said he would take up the issue with the authorities.
“The Muslims have been allotted a thousand houses and for us too, it has been a dream to come back and live in Jaffna after we left in the 1990s as the LTTE wanted us to.
This only makes life difficult for Muslims who cannot afford to construct houses on their own. We hope the government will reconsider this document alone and let us live in peace.”