SLA gives back houses in Chavakachcheri
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 10 February 2004, 00:51 GMT]
The Sri Lanka army vacated seventy nine houses in two suburbs on the outskirts of Chavakachcheri town in Jaffna this weekend. The military pulled back its forward defense line (FDL) 400 meters to free the houses it has been occupying since 2000. Meanwhile in a move to woo Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDPs) votes in Jaffna for the general elections on 2 April, the EPDP, a paramilitary group operating with the Sri Lankan armed forces in the northeast, Monday claimed responsibility for securing the release of the garrisoned homes in Chavakachcheri’s environs.
|One of the homes returned by the SLA in Chavakachcheri southwest
The EPDP, under heavy Sri Lankan military guard, visited the southwestern suburbs of Chavakachcheri town this weekend to speak to some IDPs who have got their war damaged homes and properties back.
The group, a close ally of Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga, began preparations for contesting the general election on 2 April at a garrisoned cinema theatre in Jaffna town this weekend. The EPDP has been accused of rigging polls and intimidating and attacking opponents during general elections in 1994, 2000 and 2001.
The military vacated 65 houses near the Kachchai St. Liqoryce Church. Twenty-four of the released houses are Chavakachcheri urban council quarters. The SLA also released fifteen houses in the southwestern suburb of the war-ravaged town.
|A Tamil shrine in the area vacated by the SLA
The SLA is garrisoned in several villages and more than nine thousand acres of rice fields and coconut plantation in the Thenmaradchi South Division of Jaffna. Chavakachcheri is the chief town of Jaffna’s Thenmaradchi Division.
IDPs who got their homes back began clearing their lands and putting up temporary sheds over the weekend. “None of the homes have roofs. Many are totally damaged. The Sri Lankan government hasn’t given us any money to repair houses”, an IDP family said.
The military gave three bags of cement to each family that got back its house in the southwestern suburb of Chavakachcheri. SLA sources said that work is in progress to release the town’s stadium and esplanade, which are now part of the large garrisoned zone south of the town.
An EPDP election billboard at its camp in Jaffna town.
Clearing a land returned by the military in the southwestern quarter of Chavakachcheri.
An IDP family putting up a shelter on their land vacated by the SLA in Chavakachcheri Monday.