Reconciliation process picks up pace
With President Maithripala Sirisena set to declare open a ‘reconciliation village’ in Vavuniya in the Northern Province, it seems the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka is picking up pace. Last weekend, the government organised a trip of a group of journalists, mostly Sinhalese, working in Sinhala and English media, to the Province.
The journalists, accompanied by Minister of Mass Media Gayantha Karunathilake and Deputy Minister Karunaratha Paranawithana, visited the offices of Tamil dailies and met C.V. Wigneswaran, the Province’s Chief Minister.
A few days ago, the Navy handed back 177 acres of land in Sampur village in the Eastern Province — where they had a training centre — to its original owners.
“There is nothing more left in Sampur,” the Province’s Governor, Austin Fernando, told The Hindu . Sixty more acres were given back during the visit of Mr. Sirisena, he added.
The ‘reconciliation village’ project, however, has triggered criticism from Northern Province Councillors. One of them, K. Sarveshwaran, complained that the government was trying to ensure that “Sinhala colonisation” becomes a reality and that the land on which the village is being built originally belonged to Tamils. Defence Ministry official Sarath Chandrasiri Vithana denied the charge.
Talking about the visit by the delegation of journalists, Tamil Mirror chief editor A.P. Madan, who helped organise it, said it was the first such trip. Senior Tamil journalist V. Thanabalasingham welcomed the initiative though he said much more remained to be done. (The Hindu)