SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem’s reply to Eastern Province Governor’s Statement on resettlement of Muslim familie
Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader Rauff Hakeem MP wishes to clarify the true situation with regard to the resettlement of Muslim families in Upparu village, Verugal, Trincomalee district.
The denial of the Governor is unfounded because eighty families were taken to and resettled in Upparu, Verugal on August 13 by Minister Najeeb A Majeed, the Divisional Secretary for Verugal in Eechchalampattu and a local Hindu priest. This was reported in the media with photos in which the Minister and others are appearing. We believe the “Governor was not given the true picture on this resettlement by certain arrogant and high handed government officials. When I raised the question of their eviction on August 18 after resettlement, Minister Najeeb told me of the efforts he made to resettle them and said the problem would be sorted out soon.
We possess documentary evidence to establish that the families had lived in Upparu for generations. They are in possession of copies of complaints lodged with the police on their forcible eviction in 1990, ICs issued by the security forces. There are records in the seruwila Divisional secretariat, Serunuwara about their domicile in the village which earlier came under the Seruwila Division.
We are also in possession of copy of a letter the Divisional Secretary Seruwila (Serunuwara) wrote on 15/10/2008 to the District Secretary Maj. Gen. T. T. Ranjith De Silva requesting permission for these families to cultivate their lands abandoned after 1987 and the Dist. Secretary had endorsed it with a comment that they be allowed if they possessed the deeds/permits. Consequently, the Divisional secretary had made a minute to the Commanding Officer, Thoppur that the families then living in Selvanagar would have to be resettled in their original village Upparu on 01/11/2008.
We understand that the village has been brought under the Administration of the Verugal Divisional Secretariat, Eechchilampattu. The then SLMC Parliamentarian for Trincomalee M. S. Thowfeek had protested against the decision to bring the Upparu village under proposed Verugal Pradesheya Sabha and insisted that consent of the people of the village should be obtained beforehand. He expressed his protest at the Trincomalee Kachcheri before a special Commission that was to submit a report on creating a new Divisional Secretariat.
We are also in possession of memos issued by the assistant Land Commissioner Trincomalee nominating chairmen for –lands of those who had died in Upparu Grama Sevaka Division.
On August 17-18 the resettled families were chased away without even being allowed to eat the meals they had cooked and their makeshift huts were demolished by the police on a complaint made by the Divisional secretary stating that they did not belong to the village. The inhuman and atrocious displacement of the families just a few days after their resettlement has once again reduced them to the state of helpless IDPs.
These, we believe, are authentic documents to establish the fact that they are original settlers of Upparu village and not encroachers as claimed by the misinformed Eastern Province Governor. The villagers are in possession of more documents to prove their claim.
We request the Government to take immediate steps to remedy the injustice done to these innocent families and to counter allegations that organized efforts are underway to change the demographic composition of the eastern province.