Four gazettes reportedly impacting the Northern Muslim resettlement process in Wilpattu proximity are to be rescinded.
“I informed the officials that I will present a Cabinet Paper to do way with the gazettes affecting resettlement of Northern Muslim IDPs.” said Minister of Industry and Commerce and Vanni District MP Rishad Bathiudeen on 31 March in Colombo.
Minister Bathiudeen was speaking to some members of the press shortly after meeting a team of government officials led by Secretary to the President P. B. Abeykoon at the Presidential Secretariat.
Minister Bathiudeen, who met them to present his side of story, demanded the degazetting of the Weppal, Karadikkuli/Marichakatti, and Wilathikulam areas declared by Extraordinary Gazette 2011/34 of March 24, 2017 since they were inhabited by people including Northern Muslims displaced due to terrorism. The recent Gazette 2011/34 also has also declared Mavillu, and Periyamadu reserves in addition. “But, I did not insist on these two locations since they are not inhabited and gazetting them do not affect Northern Muslim IDPs,” he said.
The gazettes Minister Bathiudeen wants done away with through a Cabinet Paper are the Gazette 1779/15 of 10 October 2012 which claimed 6,042 Hectares of Marichikaddi/Karadikkuli Forest Reserve, the gazette bearing the number 1759/2 of 21 May 2012 which claimed 2,108 hectares of Vilathikulam Forest Reserve, and gazette 2011/34 dated 24 March 2012 which claimed 40,030.525 Hectares of Mavillu Conservation Forest.
“I have asked them to return to the original families living in those villages prior to eviction in 1990. Apart from presenting Cabinet paper seeking the withdrawal of the three gazettes of 2012, I have requested the officials to withdraw the recent Extraordinary Gazette 2011/34 of March 24, 2017. “The LTTE forcibly evicted the entire Muslim Population of the North in 1990-the worst ethnic cleansing exercise in the history of Sri Lanka. These Muslim victims were forced to leave their homes in 24 hours from these lands now declared as conserved forests.”
Among the 24,000 Northern Muslim families expelled by LTTE on October 30, 1990 from their traditional homes and became overnight IDPs, was the eight-member family of the present Vanni MP and Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.