By Shamindra Ferdinando
UPFA constituent EPDP yesterday altered the route of its May Day procession in a bid to avert a possible confrontation with the TNA-UNP alliance in Jaffna.
The EPDP promptly changed its route after Jaffna police pointed out that the processions of the government partner and the Opposition alliance would cross each other near Vembadi Junction, Jaffna.
Jaffna police said that it might cause unnecessary trouble, hence, one party should change its original plan.
EPDP MP Murugesu Chandrakumaran yesterday told The Island that the EPDP wanted Jaffna rallies to be incident free. "We responded immediately when the law enforcement authorities informed us of the two opposing processions crossing each other.
The police felt such a situation could cause trouble." Chandrakumaran said.
EPDP spokesman Nelson Edirisinghe said his party expected about 15,000 supporters at the old Jaffna Municipal grounds, the venue for Tuesday’s gathering. The official said that EPDP leader, Minister Douglas Devananda would take up several issues, including poaching. Edirisinghe alleged that poaching by Indian fishermen was a key issue, which needed to be addressed by the government and all political parties, which represented the interests of the Tamil speaking people, particularly in the Northern Province. The TNA-UNP alliance picked a playground at Gurunagar, situated about two kms away from the EPDP venue for the meeting.
Commenting on UNP allegations that the government and its partners were making an attempt to sabotage its Jaffna rally, Chandrakumaran said that the Opposition alliance was already making excuses knowing it couldn’t attract people.
Army Chief Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya on Wednesday told The Island that with the defeat of LTTE terrorism, there was ample space for political parties in the Jaffna peninsula. Referring to ‘Army Tattoo’ held recently in Jaffna, he said that the interest expressed by the ordinary people had surprised him. There had been unprecedented crowds, he said, adding that he didn’t see any problem in political parties having May Day rallies in the peninsula.
Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Maj. Gen. Mahinda Hathurusinghe said that Jaffna was ready for May Day rallies, the first major political gatherings since the conclusion of the conflict. "Security is tight and there is absolutely no chance for any sort of disruption," he said, adding that law enforcement authorities would provide maximum possible support for the planned events