There is a 67 year old ethnic problem still hanging fire. We have not solved that yet. When we were voted to power it was on the basis that we would strive to bring about a settlement within a united Sri Lanka, that we would ensure the recognition of our individualism in the North and East and that we would strive for maximum devolution by the Central Government Justice Wigneswaran said. This settlement is essential so that none would put us back into the Sea of turmoil and despair again. He further said the Army must not be allowed to be parasitic on the people of the north, while being happy that an area of 1000 acres is being handed over. It must be recorded here that we have asked for at least 5500 acres to be returned.
Chief Minister of the Northern Province Justice Wigneswaran made these observations speaking at the meeting of representatives of the Co-operative Movement and Farmers’ Organization held at the public Auditorium of the Jaffna Public Library. Ministers Jayawickrema Perera, D.M.Swaminathan and Deputy Minister Vijekala Maheswaran were also present.
He further said:‘ Around 6500 acres of land have been arbitrarily taken over by the Army in the Valikamam North area only since the end of the war in 2009 and not returned. These are mostly fertile agricultural lands to which the owners have proper deeds. I pointed out to the Hon’ Minister the other day in Colombo that a maximum of 1000 acres is all what the Army needs to protect Palali Air Port and K.K.S Port. Anything more is excess land arbitrarily retained.
The balance 5500 acres can be returned to their lawful owners. The Army must not be allowed to be parasitic on us. They are cultivating our fertile lands for their benefit; they are using our good water and depriving us of our water in an area where water is precious. They are polluting our areas with their waste; they are a source of irritation and fear in our midst. Recent public pronouncements that even a single Army Camp would not be withdrawn even if it was for the consumption of the Southern Electorate could have been avoided. It had the effect of our response by passing a Resolution on Genocide. Please remember we feel very strongly against the continued stay of the Armed Forces in our areas. Until they are removed except in areas of strategic importance we would feel threatened.
Yet we are happy that this Government is taking positive steps to improve the quality of life of our people. We are equally aware of the fact that a proper resolution of our problems could not be achieved merely by giving back what we are already entitled to. Because the previous Government deprived us of our legitimate rights, the handing back of what is legitimately ours might seem a great boon to us. In a practical way these handings over however limited in scope they may be, are no doubt helpful to us. The change of the Governor and the Chief Secretary are no doubt in the right direction. But they were legitimately already our rights, deprived rights. Politically deprived rights!’