Daily Archives: September 27, 2006
Easwaran Rutnam reporting from Mutur
Despite the government attempting to display pictures of smiling families returning to Mutur a majority of the people say they continue to live a difficult and fearful life which could only get better if the town was considered a war-free zone by the government and the LTTE under United Nations supervision.
"How can we break fast with peace of mind when we are forced to do it at somebody else’s house or in our shattered homes? We will not be able to celebrate Ramazan with genuine happiness," S. Satheekeen, a father of three said in anguish and desperation.
Mr. Sathikeen was among those rounded up by the LTTE at the time it invaded Mutur and was held captive at an unknown spot till the army shelling hit this very spot giving them the chance to flee.
Some 36 families whose homes were either fully damaged by the attack on Mutur or were now occupied by the military were observing the Muslim holy month in a makeshift refugee camp at the Al-Hilal Muslim College while several others have sought shelter at the homes of relatives and friends.
"The school principal is asking us to vacate the place so that school activities can go on as usual although Muslim schools are now on vacation. Where can we go? What is the government doing? They make people believe alls well in Mutur but that’s not true," a Muslim refugee said.
He said so far they have received little or no aid and the little they received was inadequate to serve the needs of the displaced families in the camp.
The refugee said if not for the NGOs and aid groups like the World Food Program (WFP) the children in the camp would be starving by now.
WFP supplies rice, sugar, dhal, oil and other essential food items to the Mutur co-operatives store which in turn distributes it to the families under a ration card system much similar to the procedure adopted for tsunami displaced people.
"The Mutur Muslims are like a sharp blade in between two forces (government and the LTTE). We can’t go forward. Neither can we go back. Either way we will cut someone for which we have to pay the price,” Mutur Pradeshiya Sabah Vice Chairman Jamil Kapoor told the Daily Mirror.
He said security in the town was tight but some people panicked unnecessarily when leaflets purported to be from the LTTE surfaced last Friday warning of an imminent attack on the town and warning people to leave the area.
"People need to realize the LTTE threat to Mutur does not exist after Sampur was captured. We can’t explain these things point by point," Mr. Kapoor said while admitting that the battle scars suffered from last month’s LTTE attack on Mutur was still haunting most locals.
M.S. Jainulabdeen, a father of three young children, was among those who is literally scarred and fears for the future of his family. He felt the LTTE threat still remained especially since they continued to operate from Ralkuli an area between Kinniya and Mutur.
"The situation here is not as good as it is pictured to be. The LTTE can still come from Ralkuli. Until that threat is removed we will continue to live in fear, Mr. Jainulabdeen said.
With people still determined to leave Mutur and the army allegedly blocking such attempts the grand mosque in the battered town has put forward eight demands which should be met for normalcy and the people who have fled to return.
Among the demands are assurances that there will be no threats from the LTTE by making Mutur a war- free zone, lifting of fishing restrictions and the resettlement of Tamils together with the Muslims who fled as a result of the fighting.
Most Tamils are yet to return to Mutur and Muslims fear this creates an opportunity for the LTTE to strike at any given time considering the fact that Tamils will not have to face the consequences.
The local economy has also taken a beating with several shops still remaining closed and others including fish and meat vendors moving out from the main market and attempting to sell their products at road side stalls as a result of a drop in the town’s population.
Mr. Kapoor said those who still remained in Mutur will have to hold on to the only thing they could trust their faith and hope for the best with the assurance that Almighty Allah will somehow take all their troubles away.
via… Daily Mirror