Clashes in Vattamadu discussed at LTTE-Muslim meeting

[TamilNet, Monday, 27 October 2003, 18:56 GMT]
A meeting was held Monday at the Thirukkovil divisional secretariat between the Tamil and Muslim representatives, attended by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lanka Army, to discuss the clashes that occurred in Vattamadu in the Amparai district between Muslim farmers and cattle ranchers, sources said.

The Government of Sri Lanka, through a gazette notification in 1974, allocated 3800 acres of land in Vattamadu for cattle grazing. Both Muslim and Tamil ranchers raised cattle in the area. Since 1990, Tamil ranchers have tended the cattle belonging to Muslim ranchers.

A few years back, the Government Agent (GA)’s office in Amparai issued permits to some Muslims to farm in an area of 500 acres in the land that had been allocated for cattle grazing.

At a meeting held at the district secretariat in Amparai on October 12, the GA said that he was not aware under what law and how the permits for cultivation in the 500 acres were given, and the land should be normally considered as cattle grazing land. At that meeting it was decided to investigate the permits and see if the farmers could cultivate lands in the Thambiluvil area.

But no action has been taken on that decision, and the farmers started to cultivate in the land allocated for cattle grazing. The cattle ranchers stopped the farmers and clashes ensued.

The incident caused tension between the Tamil and Muslim people in the area. The meeting was called to defuse the tension. Mr. E. Kousalyan, the political head of the LTTE in Amaparai, and his deputy, Mr. Bawa, represented the LTTE at the meeting.

A ten-member delegation of Muslims, headed by Mr. M.I.M Mohideen, attended the meeting. Representing the Sri Lankan security forces were Mr. Upul Seneviratne, the Superintendent of Police (Special Task Force), and commanders of the SLA camps in Sagamam, Muhamahada and Kanakipuram.

The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission’s head in Amparai, Mr. Karl Julisson, facilitated the meeting.

The LTTE leaders said that the land was allocated for cattle grazing and should be used for that purpose. But if the Muslim farmers have permits for cultivating the land, the permits should be verified, and the permits were legal, the farmers should be allowed to cultivate the lands.

It was decided at the meeting that the participants would visit Vattamadu Tuesday and make a final decision.


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