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India Advised Us to Look Beyond 13th Amendment: TNA

by Sandun A. Jayasekera , Daily Mirror, Colombo, March 31, 2011

“What we expect is a political mechanism that devolves power meaningfully and the 13th Amendment falls far short of what is expected,” he said and added that the successive governments have failed to devolve power even under the 13th Amendment and a good example was land power, which had not been vested in a single provincial council.

India has advised Sri Lanka’s main Tamil political party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) to go beyond the 13th Amendment when it holds discussions with the Sri Lanka government on power devolution, a TNA front-liner said yesterday.

Jaffna District TNA parliamentarian Mavai Senathirajah said that however at a recent meeting between the TNA and a government delegation, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had categorically stated that under no circumstances would police powers be devolved.

“At discussions with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna during his visit to Jaffna in February he advised us to demand something beyond the 13th Amendment from the Mahinda Rajapaksa administration,” he said.

Mavai Senathirajah, MP meeting press in 2009. photo courtesy TamilNet
Mavai Senathirajah, MP meeting press in 2009. photo courtesy TamilNet

Mr. Senathirajah said as a basis for negotiations the TNA had prepared a paper to be submitted to the government at the next meeting to be held on April 7 and stressed that Tamils did not have confidence in the 13th Amendment as a basis for resolving the ethnic issue and neither did it meet the aspirations of the Tamil community.

“What we expect is a political mechanism that devolves power meaningfully and the 13th Amendment falls far short of what is expected,” he said and added that the successive governments have failed to devolve power even under the 13th Amendment and a good example was land power, which had not been vested in a single provincial council.

Mr. Senathirajah said he hoped that the ongoing discussions between the government and the TNA would pave the way for a permanent solution to the ethnic issue and address the grievances of the Tamils. The government and the TNA had agreed to meet on April 7 and 27 to further discuss core issues.

“We expect to raise the issues regarding the dismantling of High Security Zones, the release of Tamil detainees from rehabilitation centres and resettlement. The TNA delegation will submit a comprehensive report on power devolution at the meeting on April 7,” he said.

Mr. Senathirajah said it was a good move on the part of the government to release particulars of Tamil youth under rehabilitation.

“We believe there are about 11,000 youth at rehabilitation camps and we want the government to release them or prosecute them as soon as possible if there is tangible evidence against them,” he said and added that discussions held in January, February and March had not produced spectacular results that met the aspirations of the Tamil people but it was a good move in the right direction. The TNA delegation will comprise  leader R. Sampanthan, MPs Suresh Premachandran Mavai Senathirajah, M.S. Sumanthiran and senior lawyer Kanag Eswaran.

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Also:

Three army men sentence to death

By Farook Thajudeen

The Colombo High Court yesterday imposed the death sentence on three soldiers who were found guilty of the abduction, rape and murder of a 22-year-old woman in Jaffna in 1996. The three soldiers, Gamini Saman Uyanage, A. P. Sarathchandra and D. Gamage Kithsiri were indicted for the abduction and murder of Valaudan Pillai Rajini in Kondavil on or around October 30, 1996. Gamini Saman Uyanage and D. Gamage Kithsiri were also indicted for the rape of the 22-year-old woman.

High Court judge P. W. D. C. Jayatilake imposed the death sentence on the three accused when the seven-member jury found them guilty of the murder. 

State Counsel Lakmini Girihagama appeared for the prosecution. 

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Boom time for farmers in Northern Province

By Kelum Bandara

In another post war bonanza, agricultural loans have resulted in the production of Rs.10 billion worth of vegetables and fruits during the Maha season in the North, particularly in the Jaffna peninsula, the Central Bank said yesterday.

During last year’s Maha season beginning in September, 14,284 farmers in the North were given loans of up to Rs.1.1 billion for agricultural purposes.

Assistant Central Bank Governor W.M. Karunaratne said the food crops cultivated using these credit facilities were being harvested now and added that an average of 25 lorry loads of vegetables such as beetroots, carrots, onions and green chilies were being sent to the South daily.

“The Dambulla Economic Centre receives 20 lorries. The Manning Market and the Meegoda Economic Centre also received a few lorry loads,” he said.

Mr. Karunaratne said the Rs.1,167 million released to farmers under loan schemes such as Sarusara had reaped an harvest of vegetables and fruits worth Rs.10 billion.

“We are very happy. This can be described as an economic boom. In most areas in the South, food crops were destroyed in the heavy rains and resultant floods. But, there was no such impact in Jaffna. Therefore, vegetable supplies from the North have been helpful in bringing down retail prices,” he said.

Mr. Karunaratne said in the aftermath of the floods, onion prices rose to as high as Rs.500 a kilo and green chili to Rs.800 a kilo but the prices have now come down due to supplies from the North.

“Jaffna farmers are very responsive, productive and enterprising. They are hard working. Their knowledge of agricultural methods is marvelous. Their example must be followed by farmers in other parts of the country,” he said.