Saturday, October 09, 2010

190 Sinhalese families seek resettlement in Jaffna

By K.T.Rajasingham | Asian Tribune

After a lapse of 30 long years, 190 Sinhalese families consisting of more than 600 people - men, women and children have arrived in Jaffna claiming resettlement in the district. According to reports these Sinhalese families came from Anuradhapura, Mihintale, Kurunegale, Matale and some other parts in the South.

Day before yesterday 180 families arrived and yesterday it was reported that another 500 Sinhalese families were expected in Jaffna, but only 10 more families arrived.

These Sinhalese men and women, who have suddenly shown up, said that they were earlier living in the Jaffna district up to 1980 and left the peninsula once the ethnic conflict broke out in earnest.

They said that though they lived there, they have never owned either any houses or any plot of land in Jaffna and were living either in rented houses or with their friends and relatives.

It is reported that the Governor of the Northern Province retired Major General Chandrasri has said that he was not given any advance information about the arrival of these Sinhalese families.

Asian Tribune contacted Mrs. Imalda Sugumar, the Government Agent of the Jaffna district and she also told that the government was not given any advance notice about the arrival of these Sinhalese families for resettlement.

When Asian Tribune contacted the Government Agent of Jaffna, she was returning to Jaffna from Colombo.

Mrs. Imalda Sugumar said that the arrival of these Sinhalese families was reported to her by her officials when she was in Colombo. She said that she has called for a report from the Divisional Secretariat in Jaffna and rushing back to attend to this suddenly emerged humanitarian problem.

She added that once in Jaffna, she would meet those people, verify their claims and send a report to the President Secretariat for appropriate direction.

The majority of the families which have arrived in Jaffna for resettlement reported that they have matrimonial and other social links with the Tamil families in Jaffna. They all speak fluent Tamil, it was reported.

In a memorandum to the Government Agent of Jaffna, they have pointed out that prior to 1980, Tamils and the Sinhalese lived amicably and peacefully in the Peninsula. They have expressed confident that they could live peacefully with Tamils in the future.

They further revealed that during Mrs. Bandaranaike’s period as Prime Minister in the seventies, they were allocated with government lands at Thirunagar, Thirunelvely as well as in Navatkuly, but they said they did not occupy those allotted plots, but they say that still they have those letters sent to them, those days, by the government.

Many of those Sinhalese families who came to Jaffna for resettlement are said to be staying with their relatives and friends except for 76 families who are staying at the old Jaffna Railway Station.

Jaffna Municipality is providing them with water and other facilities. Also it is learnt that the Tamils living around Jaffna old Railway Station are providing these Sinhalese families with necessary help and assistance.

Furthermore, some Tamils visited these families and provided them with some of their basic requirements.

It is not known who were behind arranging and suddenly sending these Sinhalese families to Jaffna.

According to a report, officials from Samudhri attached to the Ministry of Economic Affairs have arrived in Jaffna yesterday, to look into the interest of these Sinhalese families who have claimed resettlement.

Samudhri official L.K.G. Gunatilake has led the team from Colombo met these families who are staying in the old Jaffna Railway Station, talked to them and collected details about their resettlement claims.

Asian Tribune learns that round the clock security has been provided for these families in the railway station by the Army and police.

© Asian Tribune

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