team provides immediate relief for Mannar victims
President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday dispatched
a high-level team to Mannar for talks to restore immediate normalcy
in the wake of the Pesalai incidents last week.
The team held a conference in Mannar where a series
of relief measures were immediately decided. However, their efforts
to visit Pesalai were foiled after Tiger guerrillas directed fire
at a picket that was clearing the road for their travel.
The team that flew in an Air Force helicopter
comprised Presidential Secretariat Chief Basil Rajapaksa, representing
the President, Minister Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Felix Perera and
Chief of Staff of the Navy Rear Admiral Sarath Rathnakeerthi. Among
the measures they ordered were:
*Lifting the ban on fishing in several areas except
two including Pesalai. A committee was named to meet today to explore
lifting restrictions in the remaining areas.
*Issue of dry rations and the payment of compensation
for those affected.
Instructions were issued to the Navy to immediately
enforce the fishing ban. The team is said to have found fault with
the Government Agent, Mannar for not taking action to provide dry
rations to those affected. An immediate payment of Rs 10,000 was
made to persons affected whilst a balance of Rs 40,000 is to be
paid by next week.
The team wanted to seek a meeting with Mannar
Bishop Rt. Rev. Rayappu Joseph. However, he was reported to be in
Following clashes between the Navy and the Sea
Tigers on June 17, five civilians were reported killed in Pesalai.
One was reported to have died inside the Church of Our Lady of Victories
in Pesalai whilst four others had died near the beach. Already a
Government investigation is under way to ascertain how they came
by their death.
The team’s inability to proceed to Pesalai
led to arrangements being made for fishermen’s society members
and leading citizens in Pesalai to come over to the Navy camp. There,
the team recorded representations made to them and assured that
President Rajapaksa would be apprised of their needs. They were
also briefed on the immediate measures taken.