The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka of Sri Lanka has appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa that he intervene and resolve the fishing dispute in Konthaipiddy,Mannar between Tamils from Vidathaltheevu and Muslims from Puthukkulam.
The full text of the letter signed by Muslim Council President NM Ameen is as follows -
H.E. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa
President of Sri Lanka
We wish to bring the under-mentioned matters for your kind attention regarding recent developments in Mannar.
We understand that following investigations by the Mannar Police, the SP Mannar has submitted a detailed report to IG Police through Senior DIG North (Kankesanturai) on these developments.
According to Police investigations, the Uppukulam Fishing Thotupola in Kondampitiya, Mannar had been the centre of fishing of the Muslims of Uppukulam for a considerable period of time, until the LTTE (in 2002) forced them out. After the Muslims were forced to leave, Tamils from Vidathaldeevu had taken control of this area and commenced using the Thotupola.
Following the arrival of peace (in 2005), Uppukulam fishermen driven out from their own fishing village had made requests to the authorities that their lands be restored to them. On a number of occasions, the Vidathaldeevu fishermen had, according to these reports, agreed to hand back the area to the Uppukulam fishermen but the Vidathaldeevu fishermen had failed to vacate.
Following reports of possible clashes, Mannar Superintendent of Police had held a meeting with both sides on 7 June 2012 at the Mannar Police Station at which the Vidathaldeevu fishermen had agreed to move out of Uppukulam if they were provided with alternative location for fishing.
At another meeting held in this connection, on 11 June 2012, the District Secretary and the Divisional Secretary Mannar offered an identified alternative location at Pallimunai to the Vidathaldeevu fishermen and according to the Police report, the Vidathaldeevu fishermen had agreed to shift. They had said they would shift within a few days after making a Thotupola at the new location.
However the report states that the Vidathaldeevu fishermen had failed to move out to the new alternative site provided to them.
Thereafter, a third meeting was held on 26 June 2012 chaired by the District Secretary at which the report states that the Tamil fishermen agreed to move over to the new location within three days.
They failed once again to hand back to the Muslim fishermen the Uppukulam site or to move over to the new location offered to them by the government. About two weeks thereafter, on 13 July 2012, about 20 Uppukulam fishermen had reportedly taken possession of the Uppukulam Wadiya in the course of which they had allegedly torn down and damaged some cadjan huts. The Mannar Police had thereafter reported facts relating to this incident to the Mannar Magistrate’s Court.
According to the report, the Mannar Magistrate had made order on 16 July that the Tamil fishermen be allowed to continue their fishing in the same site, until the Magistrate resolves this matter and to provide Police protection for them to continue fishing and had put off the case for 23 July 2012.
We respectfully urge Your Excellency to consider the above facts based on reports of Police investigations and to intervene and direct the GA and the Police, all of whom had done their utmost to peacefully and amicably resolve this matter, to ensure that the Vidathaldeevu fishermen are moved to any other location and to allow the Uppukulam fishermen to resume their fishing in Uppukulam, at the earliest.
For more than three years since the conclusion of the war, the Muslim fishermen of Uppukulam who were driven out by the LTTE had been trying patiently and peacefully to obtain their fishing location to earn their livelihood and all efforts had been repeatedly thwarted leaving the Muslims in sheer desperate frustration.
We appreciate your earliest intervention to resolve this matter without any further delay.
President -Muslim Council of Sri Lanka
25 July 2012