TELO’s Proposal submitted to the Parliamentary select committee of the then Ranasinghe Premadas’s UNP Government to resolve the Sri Lanka’s North-East crisis

TO: The Chairman and Members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on the North-East Crisis


The political solution to the ethnic question should be one that is capable of satisfying the political aspirations of the Tamil speaking people-Tamils and Muslims-within the frame work of a united Srilanka.

The present crisis in the North-East province cannot be politically and permanently solved unless autonomy is granted to the people of that province.

Full-fledged autonomy is the only answer to the ethnic question, that shall while removing the reasonable and justifiable political grievances of the Tamils and Muslims inhabiting that region for the last so many centuries would undoubtedly ensure a truly united and strong Sri Lanka by providing a viable and vigorous constitutional frame-work within which the Tamils and Muslims as two different communities with their own, distinct identities, yet speaking the same language and sharing a common heritage shall be assured of an adequate and effective institutional arrangement to manage their own affairs.

We, therefore having in mind the past experience of our country in regard to the political efforts attempted to grant limited autonomy within the ambit and scope of a unitary state since 1957 with a view to solve the ethnic question and conscious of our solemn duty to speak sincerely and honestly on behalf of our people who are yearning for peace with dignity submit the following proposals for the utmost consideration of your committee.

1. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall be a union of states on the basis of a full- fledged and full-blooded Federal system.

2. In the union of states of Sri Lanka, the now merged North-East province shall constitute one single state.

3. The city of Colombo and the capital Sri Jayawardene Kotte shall be union territories under the control of the federal government.

4. The following subjects shall be within the jurisdiction of the Federal government.

(A) Foreign affairs

(B) Defence

(C) Foreign Trade

(D) Currency and Federal Taxation

(E) Emigration, Immigration and Customs

(F) Aviation, Railways and National Highways

(G) Postal and Telecommunication Services

(H) National Planning and Development

(I) National Police Force

5. All other subjects shall be with the states.

6. No constitutional amendment shall be made without the concurrence of all states of the union.

7. No state legislature shall be dissolved or no state government shall be dismissed by the Federal government except on the ground of violation of the unity and territorial integrity of the union of Sri Lanka. Such dissolution or dismissal shall only be made on the recommendation of the Supreme Court.

8. Section 2 of the constitution shall be repealed to pay way for the above arrangements.

9. Special institutional arrangements and constitutional guarantees shall be made to ensure the rights of the minorities in the states of the union. In regard to the North-East, state, there shall be an autonomous Muslim region comprising all predominantly Muslim areas in the state. An elected autonomous council with an executive board shall administer the region and have jurisdiction over the subjects allotted to the council including (a) Development (b) education except that at the University level (c) Religious and cultural affairs (d) Law and order subject to the power and authority of the state government in the event of internal disturbances leading to serious Law and Order situations. The autonomous council shall have adequate financial powers to discharge its responsibilities efficiently.

In the state cabinet with a strength of 10 ministers including the chief Minister, there shall be at least 2 Muslims and 1 Sinhalese. In the event of the Chief Minister being a Tamil, the Deputy Chief Minister shall be a Muslim and vice verse. At least one of the following ministries shall be in the charge of a Muslim and Sinhalese respectively in the council of ministers.

A. Finance

B. Home Affairs

C. Education

D. Industries

E. Land and Agriculture

F. Fisheries

10. In regard to the complicated and sensitive problem of colonisation the following arrangements shall be accepted with a view to find a rational solution.

A. There shall be an immediate freeze on all colonisation in the North-East province till a national land policy is evolved.

B. The former parliamentary constituency of Amparai shall be exercised from the North-East province and annexed with the Uva province.

C. A national land policy based on the ethnic composition of each district shall be evolved and implemented.

D. The 1953 census figures shall be the guide line for the said basis of the National land policy.

E. All illegal settlements in the North-East province since 1983 August shall be dismantled.

11. In regard to the state police force of the North-East state, there shall be D.I.G in charge of the police personnel and their powers and functions within the autonomous Muslim region of the North-East state. The said D.I.G shall report to the I.G.P of the state police service.

12. In regard to the judiciary, while the Supreme Court shall continue to enjoy the same constitutional status as it is now, there shall be a court of appeal in each state instead of the present court of appeal of Sri Lanka. The court of appeal of each state shall, in addition to the appellate Jurisdiction of the present court of appeal would have the appellate Jurisdiction of the present High courts as well.

Section 18 of the constitution as amended by the 13th amendment to the constitution has while conferring the status of an official language on Tamil, unfortunately been ambiguous leading to conflicting interpretations.

This situation should be rectified.

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