Rajapakse Suspends Dry Food Relief To Vazhalaay Displaced Persons

Demonstrators in London in January 2009 condemn the British government for its support for the Rajapakse regime
Demonstrators in London in January 2009 condemn the British government for its support for the Rajapakse regime

The Sri Lanka government has suspended the dry food relief supplied under World Food Programme to the recently resettled people in the outskirts of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) High Security Zone (HSZ) in Vazhalaay near Achchuveali, according to Divisional Secretariat officials who had suspended the supply of dry food rations on instructions from Sri Lanka government authorities.

Tamilnet reported on Tuesday that around 230 uprooted families evacuated from their village by the SLA 20 years ago had been resettled in Vazhalaay and were supplied with WPF dry food relief rations.

While the Sri Lanka government and its ministers make much publicity of the above resettled people to the outer world, the WPF relief is suspended to them; they had been resettled just two months back, sources in Jaffna said.

Meanwhile, the resettled people in Vazhalaay said that their houses and properties had been plundered and they have no means of livelihood.

The Northern Provincial Council (NPC) is alleged to have cut funds allocated to the local government bodies in Vanni in great measures while these institutions are not in a position to collect revenue from people who had been uprooted and just resettled in Vanni.

It is further accused that NPC officials spend the above funds on needless projects to satisfy the whims of Northern Province Governor Major General G A Chandrasiri and the Sri Lanka government.

The governor was expected to hold a meeting on Monday with the officials of the local government bodies in the North.

Vanni local bodies are not in a state to collect revenue or other local body taxes on trade, commerce etc. and hence do not have any funds for the development and maintenance of their area.

For instance, Ma’n’niththu’rai jetty in Poonakarai was recently renovated and a boat service between Poonakarai and Ma’nianthoaddam jetty in Kozhumpuththu’rai in Jaffna was ceremoniously opened by Namal Rajapakse, the son of Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapakse, with great publicity.

Though the NPC officials had said that a great number of people would prefer to use this boat service to travel to Vanni than the A9 land route from Jaffna, only a few passengers travel by the boat service now.

Meanwhile, plans to move Northern Provincial Council (NPC) and its offices now functioning in Trincomalee to Ki’linochchi by Northern Province governor Chandrasiri and the Sri Lanka government have been indefinitely postponed due to opposed opinion of the NPC officials who maintain that Ki’linochchi has not returned to normality and there are no basic facilities for the officials and employees to reside and work.

Chandrasiri is very keen on making use of the buildings earlier used by the Liberation Tigers in Ki’linochchi as NPC departmental offices and the former Ki’linochchi Government Agent and present personal advisor to the governor, Rasanayagam, is aiding him in identifying such buildings.

According to Sri Lanka government instructions, the NPC and its offices were to be moved to Ki’linochchi with effect from July 24 but the plan has been indefinitely postponed as the key government NPC officials opposed the move.

A meeting that was to be held in Trincomalee by the Northern Province governor to discuss the issue was postponed to Monday and NPC department heads were expected to attend the meeting.

The NPC officials had already pointed out that it was inappropriate to move the NPC and its departments to Ki’linochchi which does not have the necessary infrastructure and where normality of life is yet to be restored.

The Sri Lanka government had stopped funds to the local bodies in Vanni for the last twenty years.

Meanwhile, United National Party (UNP) Jaffna district parliamentarian Ms Vijyakala Maheswaran on Monday requested the Sri Lanka government to launch an inquiry into the attack on Tamil prisoners in Colombo remand prison on Saturday.

The Tamil prisoners were attacked when they complained to the prison authorities that they were being detained in overcrowded cells in the prison, sources in Colombo said.

She appealed to the Sri Lanka government to take immediate measures to ensure the safety of Tamil prisoners now being detained in Colombo prisons.

Ms Vijyakala Maheswaran is the wife of the slain UNP Jaffna district parliamentarian T Maheswaran.

She successfully contested Jaffna district as a UNP candidate in the last general election.

In a separate development, the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has reintroduced checking of all vehicles passing through the main road in Batticaloa to Vaazhaichcheanai, Kalmunai and Verukal areas.

This checking of civilians causes untold hardships during emergency travelling, and residents have expressed concern.

Despite these checks by police and the SLA, paramilitary gangs continue to rob and are involved in other crimes, they added.

Motor cyclists riding to Batticaloa from Vaazhaichcheanai complain that they are subjected to stringent checks by the traffic police of Ea’raavoor Police causing hardships.

Public servants too complain that due to the frequent checking they face difficulties in reporting to work in time as they are stopped and checked in places other than the sentry points of the army and police.

Also, international non-governmental organisations (INGO) officials say that their work is being hampered due to the interference by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA).

INGOs have been instructed by the SLA not to use stickers.

INGOs use these stickers to identify their institutions to the SLA and other armed groups.

INGOs travelling to Paduvaankarai via Ka’ruththappaalam in Earaavoor police division have been informed about the latest instruction.

INGOs have been using the stickers usually to provide medicine to affected people and to exchange messages from the detained persons to their relatives and for other services performed by the INGOs in the eastern province.

The SLA has instructed INGOS travelling via Ka’ruththappaalam that they should not use the stickers as normality has returned and if they want to use the stickers they should get prior permission from the Defence Ministry.