Housing hope for lives ruined by counter-insurgency

[TamilNet, Friday, 29 March 2002, 17:08 GMT]
The Minister for Housing and Estate Infrastructure, Mr. Arumugan Thondaman, laid the foundation for the construction of a hundred houses for the residents of Santhosapuram, four kilometres southeast of Mutur Friday. Santhosapuram is a settlement named after Lt.Col. Santhosam, a senior commander of the Liberation Tigers from Trincomalee who was killed in a battle with the Indian army in 1988. Houses in a section of the settlement were damaged in Sri Lanka army shelling in November last year.

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Mr. Thondaman at lunch with Mr. Iynkaran, the official in charge of the administration of LTTE's political wing in Trincomalee. (Photo: TamilNet)
Mr.Thondaman was welcomed by Mr. Iynkaran, the officer in charge of administration in the LTTE's political wing in Trincomalee. The iberation Tigers hosted the minister to lunch after he laid the foundation stone for the hundred houses scheme.

More than 124 families moved out from the village of Saalaiyoor, three kilometres east of Mutur more than a decade ago to escape shelling, human rights abuses and harassment by the Indian army and later by the SLA.

Both the Indian military and the SLA were encamped in the Saalaiyoor area to dominate the strategic Navalady junction which gives access to the region's coastal interior and the Kattaiparichchaan Bridge, the main entry point to the villages of the Mutur East region.

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At the village entrance. (Photo:TamilNet)


The families lost access to the fertile fields and homesteads in Navaladi and Saalaiyoor and hence their livelihood following the displacement because for many years, the army systematically prevented them from cultivating their fields and resettling in their village as part of its counter insurgency program against the Tigers in Mutur East. Most of them now eke out their living by chopping firewood and by working as agricultural labourers mainly in the prosperous Muslim villages of the region.

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Ms. Vaadamalar and her children at their home in Santhosapuram Friday. (Photo: TamilNet)
"Several people of Saalaiyoor were killed by the Indian army and later by the Sri Lanka army. Many fled north to escape the atrocities. The direct threat to our life eased after the SLA left the village and moved west of the Kattaiparichchaan Bridge. Even then we were not safe because of their mortar and artillery fire on our homes", said K. Vaadamalar, a mother of three whose house was damaged by SLA shelling on 1 November last year.

Her thirteen year old daughter was wounded in her cheek and shrapnel pierced her son's stomach. Both children survived. Vaadamalar's husband chops firewood for a living.

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The Kattiparichchaan Bridge.

 

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