President Maitripala Sirisena today said a Special Presidential Task Force (SPTF) had been appointed under the Chair of former President Chandrika Kumaratunga to address the issues of minorities.
The SPTF would go into the matter step by step and would come up with most suitable and pragmatic solutions that would fulfill the aspirations of all communities, the President said.
Addressing a ceremony held at the Valalai at Vakarai East in the Eastern part of the Palaly High Security Zone to distribute lands that had been under the armed forces to their owners, President Sirisena went onto say that the land issue in the North was not a fresh problem but it was further aggravated as it was a fall out of the 30 year separatist war.
A sustainable solution to the all burning problems of the Northern people would be found within his first term of office and the land issue would get the priority of them, the President said.
“If we go through the world history, the land issues have contributed to many a war, rebellion and clash all over the world since the time immemorial. It was a struggle between the land owners and those who do not posses lands.
“Karl Marx has explained very clearly that the root cause to the fight between the land lords and the proletariat was on the ownership of lands. Therefore, we politicians must pay our attention to resolve land issues all the time,” President Sirisena emphasised.
“The war had a devastating effect not only on the North–East but in all other parts of the country including Colombo. As a newly elected government with the blessings and support of all communities, the government was in the process of finding solutions to all pressing problems of the minority communities. It is no doubt that there may be setbacks to this endeavour, but most important was that the government has started to rectify the errors if there were any,” he said.
President Sirisena said he was well aware of the problems faced by people in the North-East as those problems are discussed in Parliament, with armed forces personnel and in Colombo and here in the North.
Therefore, the government had a clear understanding on the issues of the North and East and added that people of all communities and in all parts of the country voted for him at the Presidential election as they had great confidence in him.
“Therefore, I believe that I have been given a mandate to solve your problems and I will give a permanent solution to all your problems before the end of my first term as the Executive President,” President Sirisena stressed.
President Sirisena said he would visit the people at their own homes in future to obtain a firsthand account of their problems and not to address them on big stages like today. The first step to promote reconciliation was to build the sense of brotherhood, mutual understanding and mutual respect among each community.
He said that the government would take steps to reconstruct all places of religious importance belonging to all faiths like Buddhist temples, Hindu Kovils, Mosques and Churches destroyed to the war.
The government was also determined to reconstruct all state buildings such as hospitals, schools and other public establishments as early as possible, he said.
President Sirisena said he felt extremely sorry for the people living in this part of the country when he saw their struggle for life. Their life was much different from those living in Matara, Kandy or Nuwara-Eliya.
“Our heart burns when the children in this part of the country cry in the similar way we feel when we hear a child in the south cries. The biggest problem faced by the people in the North was the availability of drinking water and the government would shortly launch a project aiming at providing safe drinking water to the people in the North,” he said.
“Our objective is to provide a better future and comfortable life to the next generation. Your children must not confront the difficulties you faced. Your children must lead a better and more contended life than you. That is why we are keen to give quick solutions to your most pressing problems like the land issue and drinking a water problem. If the government could resolve those issues as quickly as possible, half of your problems may have addressed,” President Sirisena added.
Resettlement and Hindu Religious Affairs Minister D.M. Swaminathan and Women’s Affairs Deputy Minister Wijayakala Maheswaran also spoke.
Documents to 31 plots of lands in Valalai to re-vest the ownership to their rightful owners were distributed by President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Former President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Minister Swaminathan and Deputy Minister Maheswaran. (Sandun A Jayasekera reporting from Jaffna)