By Cyril Wimalasurendre, ‘The Island,’ Colombo, September 10, 2017
KANDY – Alleging that the army continued to hold about 85,000 acres of land in the North, Northern Province Chief Minister and former Supreme Court judge C.W. Wigneswaran, on Saturday, sought the intervention of most Ven. Tibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera of Malwatte Chapter to shift troops out those lands.
CM Wigneswaran claimed that only about 5,000 acres had been so far released to their original owners.
The Chief Minister placed the strength of the army deployed in the Northern Province at 150,000. Asserting that there was no requirement to maintain such a large force in the Northern Province, Wigneswaran called for their removal.The Mahanayake thera told the CM to make representations to President Maithripala Sirisena as he could solve the problem.
The prelate emphasised that the army could not be removed from the Northern Province.
CM Wigneswaran told the Mahanayake that he sought his intervention to bring their problems to the notice of the President.
Wigneswaran said there were at least 89,000 widows in the north as a result of the war. Rehabilitated LTTE cadres were unemployed as employers were reluctant to hire them.
The farmers of the north had been affected by the import of chillies, onions and other such commodities. Fishermen from the South fished in the Northern seas, depriving the local fishermen of their income, he said.
Responding to media Chief Minister Wigneswaran said that federalism did not divide the country but united the country instead. Three judges of the Supreme Court had recorded a judgement regarding federalism. Accordingly, there should be no fear that federalism would pave the way for separation, the CM said.
Commenting on disputes over Buddha images being put up in the north Wigneswaran said there was opposition to statues coming up in inappropriate places. Attempts were made to put up Buddha images on lands owned by non-Buddhists, he said.
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution had been rejected by the Northern Provincial Councils as it was a threat to democratic administration of the provinces, CM Wigneswaran said.
Asked for his views regarding war crimes allegations Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka recently levelled against former Army Commander General Jagath Jayasuriya, Wigneswaran said that minister Sarath Fonseka might have had legitimate reason to make that statement. What he said might be true. The matter should be investigated, he said.