Vavuniya traders demand SLA to vacate public buildings

[TamilNet, Sunday, 16 February 2003, 04:20 GMT]
In a meeting convened at Vavuniya Urban council, the traders and business persons in Vavuniya requested the officers of the Police and security forces that the Sri Lanka Army (SLA)should immediately vacate the buildings owned by the Vavuniya paddy marketing board to allow immediate procurement of paddy from Vavuniya farmers at guaranteed prices to provide a stable livelihood for the area farmers, sources said.

The meeting was presided by S. Abdullah, President of Vavuniya traders union and a local member of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) and was organized to discuss problems faced by the Vavuniya traders and business persons.

Vanni district Deputy Inspector General, W.M.M.Dharmeratne, said that the peace climate has facilitated establishment of cordial relationship between the traders and the security forces. The Police and security forces will do everything necessary to resolve issues within the business community and for that to happen meetings such as the current one are necessary, he added.

K. Amirthalingam, a trader and a farmer, told the attendees that in declared high security zones in Vavuniya, the security forces are still occupying houses, compounds and culivatable lands belonging to Vavuniya residents, while the owners are languishing in refugee camps. These refugees have been driven to poverty without being able to earn their livelihood. Authorities should take steps to enable these refugees to resettle in their homes and to resume economic activities using their own lands, Amirthalingam added.

Attendees also raised alarm over the increasing incidents of sexual harassment and rape by the security forces and police officers and stressed that authorities should take action to ensure safety for women in the district.

Vanni district security forces commander, Major General Susil Chandrapala responding to the issues raised in the meeting, said that the Sri Lanka army and police are executing their duties providing full support to the peace process. But the SLA soldiers would be alert to respond to anything that will impact the security situation of the armed forces, he added.


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