pressure exerted on me but still, I could have refused.So after much contemplation, I decided that I would accept the invitation if allconstituent parties of the TNA jointly consider me as a common candidate. That is whatthey did when TNA MPs Sampanthan, Mawai Senadhiraja, Suresh Premachandran andseveral others visited my residence and informed me they have made an undisputeddecision to agree on me as their Chief Ministerial candidate for the upcoming NorthernPC polls. Hence, I accepted the invitation because it was the precise condition uponwhich I agreed to contest at this decisive poll.
Although the government seems quite convinced of the fact that they haveimplemented effective measures that would bring solutions to the aggrieved familiesof the Northern Tamil community, the opposition parties have continuously pointedout that the reality is far from it. As a figure contesting to represent the interests of the Northern Tamil community, which of their issues do you believe should be givenpriority?
With concern to the issues prevalent in the Northern Province, I believe priorityshould be placed on reparation, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. Thevarious developmental programmes being carried out by the government are against the backdrop of a plethora of unresolved issues that continue to victimise the Northern Tamilfamilies.The people have lost their homes and livelihood without any means of rebuilding them.But the most important issue, which is also quite tough to discuss and solve, is the highmilitary presence. Some 10 -15 out of 20 battalions of the army are stationed in the Northand they have taken over thousands of acres of land. Some lands are cultivated byfamilies that have been relocated from areas outside the North and that very produce isthereafter sold to the rightful owners of those lands.Lands are being acquired under the Land Acquisition Act and people are simply informedthrough a notice concerning the acquirement of their properties while the lawful ownersof the acquired lands/ properties lament in camps or relations’ homes without a roof of their own. For example, in my village in Manipay, one of my friends – a doctor residingin Australia owned a house. Until a few months ago, for close to 15 years his house wasoccupied by the Police. Immediately after the Police left, a notice was put up on thehouse, notifying its acquisition. In his old age, my friend was planning to return and diein his ancestral home, but now he is forced to seek legal assistance to reclaim his property.
Although highlighted by media time and again, the issue of missing/detainedTamil youth has been left largely unresolved up to date with hundreds of parentsstill relentlessly trying to find the whereabouts of their children. What are yourobservations on this issue?