Sunday, July 22, 2012
The Mannar War is a one sided affair – Rishad against Rayappu
This is a good example for people looking at Sri Lanka objectively to understand why we are in a perpetual war of attrition, caused by the over politisation of the Country. Following on from my previous entry on the lack of law and order in SL in the first instance, which lead to the event in Mannar of the Minister whose fiefdom is the Mannar district, threatened a magistrate, and is still roaming free, without at least being charged, let alone set for trial.
During the years of strife, 10,000 Muslims were summarily removed from their areas of habitation by the LTTE in the Northern Province and packed off. Most of them lived in refugee camps near Puttalam. It was ethnic cleansing by the Tigers, there is no other word one can use!
Now the LTTE has been soundly beaten, a politician from the local area, using the Muslims who have now multiplied in the past 30 years to about 40,000 are being re settled all the way from the borders of the Wilpattu National Park, clearing even the buffer zone, and being given land to cultivate. This migration and land settlement which can clearly be seen by anyone driving up the coastal road from Eluankulam, kala oya crossing towards Mannar, is upsetting the delicate balance, which was earlier in favor of the Tamil people. Rishad Bathiudeen, who was earlier a Minister for resettlement had an enormous budget which was used to resettle Muslims who were never in the Menik Farm camp, to lands even before the Menik Farm refugees could be moved back to their home villages.
Muslims who have thus benefitted from this largesse are now the power base that he has, which can prevent any other politician from gaining a foothold in the area. He is now misusing this power, to discriminate against Tamils in the whole of the Mannar District including the Peninsular. There is no Politician in Govt. which represents the Tamils in the area. The SL system is such that only Govt. ministers are allocated funds to direct to their areas, so they allocate it in this case to Muslims.
First you could say the MR was either a fool or opportunist to give the Resettlement Ministry job to a clearly biased person, but there is a longer term game ahead as he needs the Muslim vote more than the Tamil one which he also believes will be harder to get especially in Mannar.
The job in resettlement should have been given to someone who could be impartial in allocating funds to the needy and not just to one's own support base. Further when all jobs for development work, be it in building roads or buildings, goes primarily to one community, it is clearly going to incense those who are treated in a discriminatory way. Can you blame the charges made here as THEY ARE discriminatory and therefore requires interference to put right.
Bishop Rayappu Joseph a Catholic, whilst having a reputation as being a fair person, nonetheless due to his Tamil heritage, and living under the LTTE regime, is seen as being partial to the Tamil cause. He had come to some arrangement in the past with the LTTE, which was also fighting Tamil cast based elitism. He is now seen by the Tamils as their only line of defense.
The war has begun. Rayappu is fighting on behalf of his people many of whom are Christian Tamils, who have endured years of harrowing life under the LTTE, and who now have a new war over the bully boy tactics of Rishad. The latter being a consummate politician is building a power base of his own, by helping the Muslims who are his constituency, in the best way he can. The grant of land, and other favors, is likely to keep the voters toeing the line with Rishad, no matter who is in power. I also hear he has ordered some large extent of forest land to be cleared to give the Muslim landless, whilst the Tamil landless look idly by.
Rishad is key in the Mahinda Rajapakse strategy of ensuring all Muslims in Mannar are all permanently in Rishad’s palm, not allowing the votes into any of the other parties. The grant of land, even if it may have been taken from Tamils is part of this strategy. In fact Rishad is taking all the flack, but it is MR at the back of it who is conducting the orchestra.
No matter how much Rayappu cries, his people in Mannar are going to receive little if anything. All the development work assigned by the UN and other donors to that area will all go to these people, even though it was to technically go to those who were affected by the war.
The Bishop, being an outspoken critic of MR and the policies currently being imposed, is not going to find any friends at Temple Trees. This means that there is further evidence of Rishad getting everything he wants. Mahinda does not want to upset him as he feels Rishad is the key to getting more of the Muslim vote nationwide, if Rishad can be shown by Muslims to have helped them. In Muslim politics, anyone who can show he has directly helped the community, is held in high regard in the community, and therefore has a lot of goodwill. This appears to be the game plan and key to the UPFA Muslim vote. People like Fowzie have lost their traditional support and are merely warming their chairs until they keep over as their sell by date has long expired and MR knows how he milked the system in the past for his own ends.
This leads to the conclusion, that all the Tamil’s have is resorting to the legal system, and Courts to address their grievances. Due to the question with regards to the Independence of the Judiciary, they are likely to get very little redress. The fear of being overwhelmed with Muslims in Mannar is a very real one, the Tamil population is declining there and the Muslim population is increasing in leaps and bounds as their natural increase is also higher. The powder keg of racial politics can erupt any moment, and in it all is MR who is knowingly allowing it to happen or even perhaps conducting it!!