Ranil demands inquiry into heckling during Jaffna protestView(s):
By T. Premnanth
Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has called for a full inquiry into rowdy behaviour at a satyagraha in Jaffna organised by opposition parties. Four persons believed to be soldiers attempted to disrupt the campaign. Mr. Wickremesinghe named the units to which the soldiers belonged and said he would lodge a formal complaint with the Army Commander.
The four persons had jeered when Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe was addressing a gathering at the premises of the Thurkai Amman Kovil in Tellipallai. The Opposition were protesting the state’s acquisition of 2,000 acres of privately owned land.
When the four men, who were dressed in T-shirts and trousers, started to heckle the speakers, the crowd raised objections. The four men turned on some of the protestors, but the crowd seized the men and handed them over to the Police. The men identified themselves as soldiers and were handed over to the Army. Military spokesman Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya told the newspaper that he was unaware of the incident.
The satyagraha continued until 4 pm. M. A. Sumanthiran, Member of Parliament and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) representative, told the Sunday Times that 2,000 acres were being acquired despite a court ruling in favour of residents who wanted their land returned to the legitimate owners.
Addressing the gathering, Mr. Wickremesinghe said members of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s family were “grabbing land” in all parts of the country. “While we must ensure security for the Palaly airport, we must also allow residents to have their lands without compromising security,” the Opposition leader said. “When the UNP was in power, lands were acquired for security reasons. But now that the conflict is over, lands should be returned to their rightful owners,” he said.
“In 2004, foreign countries urged the government to release land to their original owners. The LLRC [Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission] recommended the same. We cannot totally ignore the people’s rightful demands.
“If we want our lands back, all of us – not only in Jaffna but also in Colombo, the Wanni and rest of the country – should take to the streets and protest,” Mr. Wickremesinghe said.
Democratic People’s Party leader Mano Ganeshan and the New Left Front leader Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne also took part in the protest. The Jaffna District Secretariat confirmed that the security forces are in control of 28,000 acres in Valikamam North.
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