Jaffna Municipal intrigues spill out
[TamilNet, Monday, 02 April 2001, 16:53 GMT]
A simmering dispute over the dismissal of 36 employees of the Jaffna Municipal Councilís (JMC) Health Department was turned into a political contest and intrigue between the Eelam Peopleís Democratic Party (EPDP) and the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) Monday in Jaffna town. More than three hundred employees of the JMC went in a procession Monday morning to the Nallur Kandasamy temple in support of the councilís administration. Another group of employees, mostly from the JMCís health department, marched through the town against the councilís administration. They handed over copies of a memorandum listing their grievances and demands to the Jaffna district judge and the government agent. Later they sat in front of the JMC in a protest fast. The protestors are not demanding their reinstatement but want the TULF administration of the JMC dissolved.
The employees who went to the Nallur temple, meanwhile, took part in a pooja to invoke blessings on the councilís administration.
An EPDP spokesman told Tamilnet that they would continue to back the protesting health department employees with their resources and manpower from the 10 Pradhesiya Sabhas (local government bodies) they control in Jaffna.
The Jaffna Mayor Raviraj charged that the EPDP is attempting to scuttle his administration by fomenting such disputes in the JMC because the group is chagrined that it does not control the council. He said that using the protesting employees as an insidious pretext to bring down the TULFís JMC administration so that it can win control over the council at the local government polls this year through intimidation and rigging.
The JMC gave notice of vacation of post when 36 health department employees stayed off work for two months in protest against the removal of Dr. S. Theivendaran who was in charge of the JMCís health clinics in the northern town.
The protesting employees have made four demands.
They are: that the council should be dissolved forthwith; that Jaffna Municipal Commissioner should be transferred; that the two new doctors employed after the removal of Dr. Theivendran should also be transferred out; that no one should be recruited by the JMC to fill their posts.
The Jaffna Mayor said that he has told the protesting employees that he is ready to reinstate them and pay the salary for the two months they stayed away from work.
The protestors, however, had refused to speak to him and continued their fast until it was ceremonially concluded around 5 p.m. Monday by the EPDPís Nallur Pradhesiya Sabha chairman Mr. S Manipallavan.