South Asia

Sri Lanka: Army-controlled land in the North to be released

Nadeswara College, one of the oldest government schools in Jaffna, whose old building was reportedly demolished in the Sri Lankan army's high security zone. Photo : Meera Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: MEERA SRINIVASAN

The Sri Lankan government will release 1000 acres of land in its Tamil-majority North Province that were until now under the Army’s control, senior Ministers said following a Cabinet decision on Thursday.

To start with, the government would resettle 1,022 families displaced by the war in a model village that is to come up in 220 acres in Valikamam North, in northern part of Jaffna Peninsula, according to Minister for Resettlement D.M. Swaminathan.

Ever since the war ended in May 2009 thousands of Northern Tamils have been demanding that their land be released so that they could return to the land where their homes once stood. Their homes, several old schools and places of worship were gobbled up by the High Security Zone which only the army had access to.

Thousands dislocated during the country’s brutal war still live in camps for internally displaced persons. Even after this move of the government, the Sri Lankan Army will have control over 5,000 acres of private land in its high security zones.

 “We are working out the modalities [of returning the land]. There are aspects pertaining to ownership and possession which we have to look into. We will closely work with the TNA and the northern people to expedite the process,” Mr. Swaminathan told press persons.

Genocide resolution

His announcement comes two days after the TNA-led Northern Provincial Council passed a resolution on the Sri Lankan government’s “genocide against Tamils.”

On whether the resolution had caused a rift between the government and the TNA — its ally in the recent presidential election that brought about a regime change in Sri Lanka — the Minister said: “The resolution was probably due to a political compulsion. It will not hamper the government’s relationship with the TNA.” The government would also take measures to release Army-controlled land in the Eastern Province and in the southern parts of the island, he said.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 12:01:50 PM |

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