Thondaman meets LTTE in Mutur
[TamilNet, Sunday, 27 January 2002, 17:02 GMT]
Mr. Arumugam Thondaman, a senior cabinet minister of the United National Front government, had discussions with the Liberation Tigers in Sampur, a village held by them south of the eastern port town of Trincomalee, Sunday. Mr. Arumugan Thondaman who is also the leader of the Ceylon Workers Congress, a powerful trade union in the island's plantation industry, is the first minister of the UNF government to visit an area in the northeast province held by the LTTE. Mr. Arumugan Thondaman is the Minister for Housing and Estate Infrastructure.
Mr. Thondaman met Mr. Iyngaran, the head of LTTE's political wing in the Trincomalee district around noon in Mutur east. Mr. Iyankaran discussed the hardships faced by the people of the region and the means of resolving their day-to-day problems with a view to restoring normalcy in Mutur east.
The minister later met local community leaders. They told him that the people of Mutur east still face severe difficulties in obtaining their provisions and other essential items due to the restrictions imposed on the region by the Sri Lanka army even after the unilateral cease fire of the Liberation Tigers and the cessation of hostilities of the United National Front (UNF) government came into force.
The Minister was briefed that the security forces in Mutur were not allowing civilians, government servants and private vehicles to enter the LTTE held areas.
The villagers told Mr. Thondaman that there was serious breakdown in food distribution in Mutur east and that there were no proper transport facilities for the people in the region. Farming and fishing have been very badly affected by the restrictions and ban imposed by the SLA, the local community representatives told the Minister.
"About eight hundred and fifty families in Chenaiyoor buy their provisions from co-operative stores in the Mutur town which is under the control of the Sri Lanka army. They are forced to walk many miles from LTTE held villages of Chenaiyoor and Kadatkaraichceni ", a village officer of the area said.
There was a co-operative store in Chenaiyoor village. It was closed down later because of severe controls on food supplies to Mutur east imposed by the SLA.
"But there is a cease fire now. Therefore the government should take immediate steps to open up all the co-operative stores in Mutur east that were shut down because of the SLA's restrictions", the village official said.
Mr. Thondaman returned to Trincomalee town later in the afternoon Sunday.