19 September, 2019

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How To ‘Solve’ Wilpattu

By Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

Uditha Devapriya

The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has raised concerns about deforestation around Wilpattu National Park. Four environmental organisations have charged Rishard Bathiudeen of complicity. Now guilt isn’t always about direct involvement. People can be indirectly involved. That is why the allegation that he has cleared more than 18,000 acres of forest land throughout three districts is serious. He needs to be investigated. Period.

An inquiry would make sense. President Maithripala Sirisena has called for one. That sets precedent, and certainly a good one. But there’s another issue here. If illegal acquisition was all that mattered this wouldn’t be a big problem. Indeed one can argue that illegal resettlement in the guise of land clearance is a problem that can easily be remedied.

There’s an underside to Wilpattu, however. This has gone unnoticed. It came to me through a comment to a Facebook post. Not the media. The comment was about certain visitors to the park who are engaged with “hunting safaris”. Animals are being shot and no one seems to be aware of this. To make matters worse these hunters are actively bragging about what they do on social media (as this photo quite clearly shows).

Chick

No action has been taken here. This reflects lethargy on the part of the Wildlife Ministry. To top it all no less a figure than the president himself heads it. Letting these hunters off the hook would reflect badly on him and his government. This is not because evidence lends credence to allegation but because those who perpetrate these crimes are bragging about them. That warrants public outrage. Naturally.

Here’s what we know. Most of these “visitors” are from overseas. This indicates that the wrongdoers aren’t Sri Lankan. It also indicates that more vigilance should be demanded from relevant authorities in cancelling their visas. Hosts should not tolerate behaviour of this sort from guests, naturally enough. But while they are committing these acts, it is alleged that local criminal gangs are abetting them. That is despicable and demands immediate remedy. Relevant authorities must commit to deter.

I raise these points because this government has shown itself capable of persecuting wrongdoers. Unfortunately most of those they have persecuted thus far have been officials from the previous regime. That does not and indeed will not license unchecked allegations on the part of Ministers who belong to this government. President Sirisena himself should know this.

There are two courses of action that must be followed. The first and most immediate would be to book those hunting illegally. This can be done with assistance from the Immigration and Emigration Department. Secondly those abetting these “invited guests” must be investigated, arguably the harder of the two given that they remain unidentified. Given how active the government has been in booking members from the former regime I don’t think it will be difficult to persecute both criminal and accomplice here.

It doesn’t make sense to go on a rampage against former Ministers but let this issue go by unnoticed. The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) hasn’t spoken a word about it. That is not surprising. We are after all talking an organisation that raised hell over Rishard Bathiudeen when he was with Mahinda Rajapaksa but stayed shut when the former joined Maithripala Sirisena’s election campaign. BASL has always been ready to urge constitutional reform. That is why continuing silence on its part about Wilpattu disgusts me.

It is the government and the government alone that must combat this problem. Yahapalanaya after all isn’t about regime-change. Problems that crop up must be investigated. Action must be taken. A top-to-bottom coordinated program must be implemented. Solving a problem like Wilpattu takes more than just harping on about the government’s stance on good governance. It should involve active engagement with issue and nothing short of that.

The litmus test for this problem is whether or not a presidential inquiry will be implemented and how objective it will be. The findings of such an inquiry must involve not just alleged deforestation, moreover. It must also involve those hunters bragging about what they do on social media. Simple as that.

*Uditha Devapriya is a freelance writer who can be reached at udakdev1@gmail.com. His articles can be accessed at fragmenteyes.blogspot.com

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  • 4
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    Uditha Devapriya

    RE: How To ‘Solve’ Wilpattu

    Thanks for bringing this Wilpattu Environmental Issue up because a lot of people are running around like chicken with their heads cut off.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XpfzLXpBIv8

    However, we have DOUBLE STANDARDS here, including the JVP. What a shame!

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/alien-sinahalese-re-settlers-from-hambantota-given-three-acres-in-wilpattu-but-half-acre-to-muslims-is-an-environmental-disaster/

    1. “The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has raised concerns about deforestation around Wilpattu National Park. Four environmental organisations have charged Rishard Bathiudeen of complicity. Now guilt isn’t always about direct involvement. People can be indirectly involved. That is why the allegation that he has cleared more than 18,000 acres of forest land throughout three districts is serious. He needs to be investigated. Period.”

    2. “There’s an underside to Wilpattu, however. This has gone unnoticed. It came to me through a comment to a Facebook post. Not the media. The comment was about certain visitors to the park who are engaged with “hunting safaris”. Animals are being shot and no one seems to be aware of this. To make matters worse these hunters are actively bragging about what they do on social media (as this photo quite clearly shows).”

    3. “Here’s what we know. Most of these “visitors” are from overseas. This indicates that the wrongdoers aren’t Sri Lankan. It also indicates that more vigilance should be demanded from relevant authorities in cancelling their visas. “

    Do you think that the Northern Muslim IDP’s would rather be in the wilpattu Jungle than being n the Former homes and Villages from where they were chased from by the ethnic cleansing LTTE Terrorists?

  • 5
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    This is about power politics – Rishad Badhuideen is deemed to be ‘a king-maker’ not easily discarded. So this is an undeniably true litmus test of good governance. Let’s see.

  • 5
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    Uditha Devapriya –

    https://www.facebook.com/slmuslimnetwork/videos/vb.125347604146957/1049721871709521/?type=2&theater

    Stick to facts . Remember, the Facts support the Heliocentric Model, whatever the Church or Bishop Rayappu, LTTE Norway or the Others say.

    This is Political BBS the New Twist

    JVP got fooled and got sucked and became fooled..

    Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

  • 9
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    Before you blame Rishard Bathiuddin for everything better read the article in in CT – Alien Sinahalese Re-Settlers From Hambantota Given Three Acres In Wilpattu… But Half Acre To Muslims Is An Environmental Disaster! He is only trying to help his constituents who are IDP’s.

    What do you say about the Navy clearing 500 Acres and all the Sinhala Colonies set up much closer to Wilpattu.

    1. Veratenna – 520 families
    2. Bogaswewa 1- 500 families
    3. Bogaswewa 2 -560 families
    4. Namalgama – 470 families
    5. Senaleenigama – 450 families
    6. Nandamitragama -360 families

    What are your views on Mattala Airport, Dambulla Cricket Stadium and Sooriyaweva Cricket Stadium? Werent these set up in forest and nature reserves?

    Then in Hambantota a harbor constructed by sacrificing 1500 Hectares of land to the sea? After that blasting a huge rock at the entrance? Where were all these deshapremi environmentalist at that time?

    • 4
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      I did not blame Rishad. I only blamed the lack of action with regard to investigating him. As for Mattala etc, don’t you think this government has done enough FOR NOW with regard to “investigating”, ie reports, committees to assess the feasibility of Mattala? Why go on a spree for them and ignore the lack of assessment when it comes to a top-ranking Minister of not just this regime but the previous one as well?

      I don’t know about ‘my views’, but it seems you’ve scripted in your prejudices for seeing every article criticising Rishad et al as a race-based article into my take on Wilpattu. I did NOT script in race. I did NOT talk about Muslim settlements (only). Get your facts straight. Read. Reread. Don’t come to conclusions like a Jabberwocky (poem) would.

      Besides, this article was NOT mainly about settlements per se.

      • 1
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        I agree that only the first two paragraphs of your article are regarding the Wilpattu IDP Resettlement. You said

        “The Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) has raised concerns about deforestation around Wilpattu National Park. Four environmental organisations have charged Rishard Bathiudeen of complicity. Now guilt isn’t always about direct involvement. People can be indirectly involved. That is why the allegation that he has cleared more than 18,000 acres of forest land throughout three districts is serious. He needs to be investigated. Period.”

        You refer to the JVP visit and the statement by four environmental organizations. I take this to mean the statement by the Environment Conservation Trust, Pivithuru Hetak National Movement, Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya and Wilpattu Surakimu organizations.

        Both these parties have only focused on the Muslim IDP Resettlement and ignored the wider picture where there is deforestation by the Navy (500 acres) as well the setting up of Sinhalese Colonies in closer proximity to the Wilpattu National Park.

        So any reader would conclude that you too subscribe to the same views.

        These days there is a major onslaught on the Muslim minority using the brand ‘Wilpattu’ to portray them as Nation of Thieves and Land grabbers who have no love for the country or environment. This is being led by a set of extremist monks, pseudo environmentalist and a couple of media organizations. In the background no doubt the political mafia.

        We have been through this before and can read the signs. So it is good if writers make their views clear rather than referring to what others say. As you say, get the facts right and give a balanced picture rather than throwing the word Wilpattu around whereas the area concerned is Musali, Mannar Division. If you go through the Dept of Forest publications and maps you will see that only a part of this area is low level forest reserve and there is no mention of Kallaru Forest Reserve as some persons have claimed (out of 531 forest reserves in Sri Lanka). Neither is it part of the North Wilpattu Reserve.

        All resettlement has been done legally by a Presidential Task Force set up by the former President of this country. Minister Rishard Bathiuthin is himself a displaced person and that is why he speaks on behalf of these people.

        Whilst the so called environmentalist speak highly of preservation of Plant and Animal Species they forget the preservation of Human Beings who were sent packing from their homes within 48 hrs by the LTTE and after 20 odd years trying to piece their lives together. Speak of mans inhumanity to man.

        • 0
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          Tambapani

          “These days there is a major onslaught on the Muslim minority using the brand ‘Wilpattu’ to portray them as Nation of Thieves and Land grabbers who have no love for the country or environment. This is being led by a set of extremist monks, pseudo environmentalist and a couple of media organizations. In the background no doubt the political mafia.”

          This is Double Standards.

          This Double Standards by the Extremists and Racist groups must be exposed.

          Challenge them, if you have facts on your side.

      • 0
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        Regarding Mattala, Magampura, Dambulla, Sooriyaweva, I would like to question the level of activism displayed by these numerous ‘Evironmentalist’, ‘Patriotic’ Monks and Media Channels. Did they or have they displayed the same level of concern or activism against these Mega Environmental Disasters as against the Resettlement of IDP’s in their own areas.

        If not please do so even at this late hour. If not your credibility as Environmentalist is at stake. You will be labeled as Racist not Environmentalist as you are very selective in your activism.

        I would rate Magampura as major environmental disaster. To sacrifice 1500 Hectares to the sea in a tiny island like Sri Lanka is a senseless crime beyond imagination especially when there are other options available. Was an EIA done? Mattala, to locate an International Airport in the midst of a Bird Sanctuary defies any sense or logic. Here again has any Environmentalist or NGO published a report on the environmental impact.

        Where were all these Deshapremi Environmentalist, Monks and Media at time. Their Selective Activism stinks of Racist thinking. Their credibility is zero.

  • 5
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    In an earlier occasion too Rishard Batrhiuddin had got 200 acres from the govt and had settled muslims there.

    They are islamizing the country.

    • 4
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      Jim softy

      “In an earlier occasion too Rishard Batrhiuddin had got 200 acres from the govt and had settled muslims there.”

      The Muslims could not go back to their original villages. They were either destroyed, occupied by tamils or by the Navy or the Ormy.

      So they had to stay somewhere, even in the Jungle.

      Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

      Published on Jun 1, 2013
      The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka. The expulsion of the Muslims and other nations from the Northern province was an act of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) organization in October 1990. In order to achieve their goal of creating a mono ethnic Tamil state in the North Sri Lanka, the LTTE forcibly expelled the 72,000 strong Muslim population from the Northern Province.

  • 1
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    A convoluted effort just to say “[Edited out]”. Apparently you and the Government are both suffering from constipation. Heard of Dulcolax?

    • 1
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      CT cultivate a sense of humour will you? Even in school our teachers tolerated that edited out phrase to refer to something unsubstantial. Talking for talking’s sake. It was used when there was voluminous gas and hardly any substance.

  • 5
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    President has appointed a commission, he must look at all the forest area that was destroyed. All the settlements including those mentioned in this article must be taken together. He will also play into the hands of racists, if he only gets a report of this Muslim settlement. If what Muslim Council says is correct, President must look into the following settlement also.. What about the destruction by the navy and there is also a story that bungalows had been built. Racism flew through the window on the 8th of Jan, so please do not bring it back.
    Settlements mentioned in the MCSL article are as follows.
    1 Veratenna – 520 families
    2. Bogaswewa 1- 500 families
    3. Bogaswewa 2 -560 families
    4. Namalgama – 470 families
    5. Senaleenigama – 450 families
    6. Nandamitragama -360 families.

    I am reiterating that it is necessary for the President to have a full scale inquiry of the destruction of the forest not only what the Muslims had supposedly destroyed.

  • 5
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    Wilpattu is an ENVIRONMENTAL problem; About deforestation,climate change etc.It is above party Politics.

    Here we have a member of the cabinet responsible for all this .Earlier on he had even got his supporters to stone the Judge at Mannar.

    Yahalpanaya?

  • 3
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    Uditha is too optimistic.
    This is the government, as I learned from another website, that decided to drop a money laundering case against its one of the most important ministers; a shameless act. And imagine this happening in the previous regime. And the PM is reported to interfere with the cases against defence sec as well.

    Don’t forget Uditha; one has to satisfy ones masters. BASL is reported to be funded by US Aid and they do not want ‘good governance’ or reconciliation, just the agenda implemented. They are against Sri Lankans; Tamils and Singalese and Moslims s well.

    And ironically, the five changing first-page-news-items of the Colombo Telegraph, out of the seven, still deals with Gota and Mahinda. It is not only the government it seems stuck with the most recent (read as previous regime) past.
    We would like to see previous and current criminals exposed and given equal prominence and brought to books.

  • 0
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    Can build Malay style houses in the water on tilts ….this is very popular in Malaysia..Brunei..and Indonesia …

  • 5
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    How To ‘Solve’ Wilpattu,
    simple educate all sinhala Buddhist mongrels a 21st century civilization….they damn fools live in stone age.

    • 2
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      J.MUTHU

      “How To ‘Solve’ Wilpattu, simple educate all sinhala Buddhist mongrels a 21st century civilization….they damn fools live in stone age. “

      Wilpattu is mostly occupied by Alien Sinhala from the South.

      JVP and BBS are Carrying out DOUBLE Standards just like LTTE Shame on Them

      Forgotten People – The Evicted and Displaced North Muslims of Sri Lanka (English)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JV60McNQ9o

      See Map of wilpattu destruction due mostly to Sinhala from Hambantota..

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CEjP1igWIAACyrz.jpg

      • 0
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        @Amarasiri

        yes yes Sinhalease have already occupied Kathiragama Hindu temple ….

        Ramakrihna Mission built by the money from Tamils is now occupied by Buddhists Ayatullah ..

        All the madams run by Tamil fund bulldozed by Srimavo Bandaranayaka..( another Curse for Ceylon)

        Soon they will build casinos ..discos..bars..and brothels in the vicinity of Hindu temple

        Cheers

  • 5
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    Muslims evicted from the North should be settled in their original lands. This will not be favored by the TNA. Minister Rishad should come to an agreement with the TNA to resettle the displaced Muslims in the North and give up his plans to create a Muslim enclave in the Wilpattu sanctuary and its vicinity.

  • 4
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    it’s a blatant lie that sinhalese are settled in willpaththu. none of the sinhalese are settled in villpaththu or mannar area. thousands of acres of jungle is destroyed to settle muslims from puttalam and hundreds of pakistanis. this is a sinister plot to have a muslim dominated kingdom in that area.

    this is a another step to Islamilize SL

  • 0
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    How can small brats like the write even talk with any authority about Wilpattu ?

    Wilpattu was inaccessible for most of their miniscule lifetime !

    Some of the oldest Muslim villages in the Country were around Wilpattu and those villager’s knew how to treat nature with respect and look after the jungle and forest that gave them sustenance.

    Striking that balance again must be left to those who know, not self proclaimed activists and greenies who know next to nothing.

  • 0
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    Dear Uditha,

    You were right Tambapani the person mislead your point of view.

    Dambulla wasn’t national sanctuary obviously it was filled with trees and some species. Note it’s place less rainfalls also most of the Rangiri ground occupied by wild elephants again Mattala airport, sooriyawewa ground almost identified as lack of efficiency and key route cause of corruptions.

    Udith didn’t accuse Rishard the minister but there are muslims who settled in that area they paid for settlements. Rishard wealth can be witnesses.

    Rishard once accused his party leader Rauf Hakeem world known manipulation.
    Rishard was steel exporter during Minister of Industries, He has villa type resorts in Kerala India. Can we challenge him to show assets declaration ?

    Here very important Rishard Bathuideen a muslim name the accusation not goes to entire muslims or innocent civilians who settled in Wilpattu or guys who cleanses white swans…. That can be crime still that crime can be taken to inquire punish, bailout whatever my fellow brother who doing in the picture is possibly another sri lankan. May be potential if I am allowed to go forest If I am capable of catch and eat that meat I may in the picture….. Please here no religious biased accusations. It’s totally ruin of natural resources and species which anyway will be exist in some decades.

    Read twice or thrice don’t be arrogant or harsh.

    I receives threats same posting in my FB , what if I am reveal to fellow citizens.
    don’t threat any by letters or words or any form.

    it’s illegal or crime it was not against to Islam it’s against a individual who did in responsible authority.

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