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Bathiudeen’s ‘spiring’ has affected Wilpattu

27 March 2019 01:07 am - 4     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Minister Rishad Bathiudeen has shown during the past that he is more important to the Governments that have been in power than to the Muslim community. Bathiudeen’s appointment in 2001 as a Minister and the subsequent reappointments in 2004, 2010 and 2015 as the Minister of Industries and Commerce, underscores the clout he has as an MP from the Vanni. Any minister who is a member of a political party would wish to have an alliance with the regime, given that today’s political set-up is such that no single political party can win at a major election contesting alone.

This is what All Ceylon Makkal Congress has done over the years. The Muslim vote in the Vanni is essential because so many Muslims are homeless today after being driven out from the north during the civil war.  

  • There is a fact that supports Bathiudeen’s cause and that is 3080 acres of land cleared for this purpose being removed from the Mainland Forest Conservation and Gazetted

Bathiudeen’s battle lies here; to find resettlement for displaced Muslims, who are living in refugee camps. He maintains that until 2012 the land cleared for resettlement was not included in the Forest Conservation Reserve.   

He added that the land cleared for such purpose was released by the Land Registry.

There is a fact that supports Bathiudeen’s cause and that is 3080 acres of land cleared for this purpose being removed from the Mainland Forest Conservation and Gazetted.  

Bathiudeen is also the Minister of Vocational Training and Skills Development, but his real skills lie in walking on the fence where the line divides a resettlement opportunity for his community and the threat of him breaching the laws of the country.  

The only little hope for the displaced Muslims is the continuous presence of Bathiudeen in the capacity of Minister of Industries and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons.   

Bathiudeen maintains that he has not breached the law and is willing to take up any form of punishment in the event he has done so.  

Very recently it’s the social media which took Bathiudeen to task where its users even staged a protest campaign where as many as 15,000 signatures were raised in an effort to save Wilpattu from this Minister.   

Bathiudeen’s response has been that the social media is instigating a mudslinging campaign against him.   

The minister has also maintained that the resettlement process in the bordering villages of Wilpattu has not caused any damage to the environment. His approach to this issue suggests that he would choose humans instead of animals if ever there was going to be a contest for space.  

Bathiudeen works closely with President Sirisena. He did the same when President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the head of state. It looks like Bathiudeen has clout in the Vanni because of the Muslim resettlement issue. No government would want to sour its relationship with Bathiudeen because if he is not kept happy the regime is not assured of the Muslim votes from this community.  

What irritates the Sinhalese majority, wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers is Bathiudeen choosing Wilpattu border villages for resettlement projects.   

There are also allegations that he is clearing lands near the forest reserve to set up an industrial site.

The debate where all this clearing is happening within the Wildlife Sanctuary or outside it, rages largely because the Government at one time extended the length of Wilpattu National Park and on another occasion removed a massive plot of land from the ownership of Forest Conservation Department.  

Being fair to all parties, the courts fixed for June 28 the hearing of the petition filed by environmentalist Malinda Seneviratne and Attorney Nagananda Kodithuwakku against Minister Bathiudeen seeking the prohibition of deforestation at the Vilaththukulam Forest Reserve in Wilpattu.  

Bathiudeen’s ambitious deforestation programmes began in 2011 under the theme Northern Spring (Uthuru Wasanthaya).   

That was the time just after the war and president Rajapaksa was slowly allocating funds to rebuild a war-torn north and resettle people liberated from the Tiger rebels. But the real architect behind the Northern Spring was former minister Basil Rajapaksa who also wanted hospitals, schools, Grama Niladhari Offices, Divisional Secretariats and Police Stations set up under this initiative.   

The problem with this country is that the regime in power doesn’t show much interest to continue with the programmes commenced by the previous Governments.

The only little hope for the displaced Muslims is the continuous presence of Bathiudeen in the capacity of Minister of Industries and Commerce, Resettlement of Protracted Displaced Persons.   

History has shown that minority political parties in Sri Lanka earned their rights only through protests and agitation campaigns. Contrary to this Bathiudeen has done pretty well because he has made past Governments cater to his wishes and give back something to his community.   

His continuous reappointment makes politicians of minority ‘groups’ like the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem and Tamil National Alliance Leader R. Sampanthan look small compared to what he has turned himself into today.  

Bathiudeen’s efforts come during a time when there are accusations that Tamils are given preference over Muslims in the Government’s resettlement efforts.   

History has shown that minority political parties in Sri Lanka earned their rights only through protests and agitation campaigns. Contrary to this Bathiudeen has done pretty well because he has made past Governments cater to his wishes and give back something to his community.   

He has achieved much without  staging any protests and lives being lost!  

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  Comments - 4

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  • Neville Wednesday, 27 March 2019 08:11 PM

    If these Muslims were driven away from the North, they can be resetttled in where they were, as is being done at present.

    Acid Thursday, 28 March 2019 08:58 AM

    When the eco system of Rajagiriya marshes were being filled up to give rich people cheap land, no one batted an eyelid. I guess environmental concerns only affect the poor.

    ajith Thursday, 28 March 2019 04:13 PM

    If Muslims were displaced from Jaffna, they should be resettled in Jaffna. Not in Wilpattu

    Saman Hewage Thursday, 28 March 2019 05:27 PM

    did anyone think why these muslims were deported because they did not agree to fight against us i.e. the Sinhalese they also suffered in refugee camps for so many years


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