October 26, 2015
The Hindu ArchivesA file picture of a Muslim family whose hut was torched during the Tamil rebel attack on Palliyagodella village in Sri Lanka.
25 years since the eviction of 75,000 Muslims by the Tamil Tigers from Sri Lanka’s North, the livelihood concerns of this marginalised section remain neglected. It is time for the political elite — both Sinhala and Tamil — to probe their own consciences and evolve a more inclusive resettlement framework
About 25 years ago, on October 30, 1990, the Tamil Tigers evicted the Muslims from the Sri Lanka’s Northern Province. A politically marginal population of about 75,000 people, constituting five per cent of the Northern Province, was subjected to ethnic cleansing with military precision; the Muslims were given between two and 48 hours to leave with just their clothes and a meagre 500 rupees.
Having lost all that that they owned, most of them languished in refugee camps in districts outside the North, mostly in Puttalam in Sri Lanka’s North Western Province. The end of the war in May 2009 brought some hopes for a return, but the absence of a resettlement policy, an unwelcoming Tamil bureaucracy and severed relations with the Tamil community have effectively crippled the process.