Resettling in High Security Zone: AG to consult Defence Ministry

Petitioners agree to conditions suggested by Court

By Teles Anandappa

The Attorney General’s Department is to consult the Defence Ministry after the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the Jaffna District Secretary to consider re-settling people displaced from the High Security Zone in Jaffna.

The Supreme Court had ruled in respect of a fundamental rights petition filed by TNA Parliamentarian Mavi Senathirajah that he had been prevented from taking possession and living on his property which he was forced to vacate due to military activity in 1992.

There were several petitions filed on the same basis and the Court then directed the State to obtain instructions from the security forces and the Jaffna District Secretary and submit a report as to the number of persons who had been displaced.

According to the report 20,365 families had been displaced, out of which 1,679 families consisting of 6,386 persons were living in 50 welfare centres while some were living with friends and some had left the island.

The report further said that for the past 15 years those displaced had been deprived of their livelihoods and were living on dry rations provided by the State.

Considering the report, the Court requested counsel to ascertain from the petitioners whether they were agreeable to be re-settled within the high security area on a written assurance given by them that they would submit themselves for interview by the District Secretary and representatives of the security forces to establish their identities, claims to the particular portion of land and other relevant particulars and that they would form themselves into Citizens Committees and ensure that the security forces were in no way imperilled in the area due to any armed or terrorist activity and that they will engage in agriculture and other activities as may be agreed upon between them and the relevant authorities and that they would not claim the dry rations provided by the State.

Counsel informed the Court that at present there were 7,456 families which had agreed to be re-settled on the conditions indicated by the Court and had given their agreement, in writing, to the respective District Secretaries.

President’s Counsel K. Kanag-Iswaran appeard for the petitioner.

The Bench comprised of Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justices Nihal Jayasinghe and N.E Dissanayake.

The case is to be called again on July 24.

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