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Land grabs and Tamil representation discussed, as Indian High Commissioner tours Jaffna

India’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Santhosh Jha met with several Tamil political leaders during his first visit to Jaffna this week, where issues ranging from land grabs to fishing were discussed.

Alongside political leaders from various parties, the Vice Chancellor of Jaffna University Professor S. Srisatkunarajah, was also present in discussions.

The Tamil politicians spoke to reporters after the meeting and shared some insights into their discussions.

Fisherfolk issue to the forefront

TMTK parliamentarian C V Wigneswaran said he had discussed the issue of d land grabbing around Palaly airport, supposedly under the guise of extending current facilities. “He told us that India is not interested in the Palaly airport when we made him aware of media reports that nearly 500 acres of lands will be taken for the extension of the airport,” he said. “He told us that they do not intend to grab land, nor are they interested in the airport.”

Fisherfolk issue to the forefront

Meanwhile, M A Sumanthiran speaking to reporters said that the issue of Tamil Nadu fishermen poaching in northern waters was discussed. “He said he was aware of these issues and that he would write to Delhi about it,” said Sumanthiran. “We also discussed the threat of China and the influence of China. How this will impact the region, our fisherfolk, and even India.”

Request for boat to Neduntheevu

“I had a very cordial and warm exchange with the Indian High Commissioner. It is heartening to have him visit Jaffna and to also spend some time talking to all of us,” said C V K Sivagnanam, former commissioner of the Jaffna Municipal Council. “I requested him to provide us with a boat to travel to Delft since the current one is old and damaged. He took note of my request and told me that he cannot make an individual decision and will speak to the government counterparts on expediting it.”

Issues within the Tamil political parties

TELO leader Selvam Adaikalanathan spoke to reporters about friction within the Tamil political parties and said that “if members of the party are themselves not united, it is not possible to unite and resolve issues faced by the people”. He also added that parties must be more forgiving and accommodating so that they all have an opportunity to do something for the homeland. 

Voice for Tamil people

Angajan Ramanathan, a Rajapaksa-ally and member of parliament for the SLFP told reporters that he had spoken about issues the Tamil people face. He said Jha spoke of how if the economy of the region is developed, it will uplift the livelihood of people as well. “He assured that he understands the problems faced by Tamils and is a voice for their grievances,” Ramanathan added.


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