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SL Tamil IDP's houses unlawfully occupied by Sinhalese: Report

By T V Sriram
November 02, 2009 15:01 IST
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Having spent months in refugee camps, the homecoming to northern Sri Lanka is turning bitter for nearly 1,500 war-displaced Tamil families, as their houses have been unlawfully occupied allegedly by Sinhalese people.

This ordeal was faced by Tamil families who returned to their homes in Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Batticaloa, under the government's resettlement programme.

A Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi leader told a local daily that around 1,486 Tamil families were unable to enter their homes in Trincomalee, Vavuniya and Batticaloa, as they found their houses occupied by the majority Sinhala community.

"There are more than 500 families of the majority community who have set up houses and are cultivating paddy in areas that belonged to Tamils before the war intensified," Packiyaselvam Ariyanethiran, a member of ITAK said.

He said that he wrote to Lankan President Rajapakse on September 16 requesting a probe and a peaceful solution to the issue. "The President in response to my letter had written to the Government Agents on October 26 asking for a thorough report on the situation. I believe the GAs are yet to make their official statement on the matter. However, once the holidays are over, I wish to meet them and inquire of what they plan to do" the ITAK member told the 'Sunday Nation.'

According to officials, the number of IDPs in various welfare villages has come down to 1,80,000 on 27 October, 09 from 2,88,000 when the war in the island nation ended in May this year with the death of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Ariyanethiran said even those who were displaced in Puttalam (in North West) were also unable to return to their original houses due to such unlawful occupation. He said the encroachment began swiftly and has reached a point where there is a significant presence of the majority community that had not lived there earlier, he claims.

The newspaper report also pointed out a motion tabled in Lankan parliament last week, Tamil National Alliance leader R Sampanthan also highlighted that, "Such unlawful occupation of state land by members of the majority community acting with total impunity has been a continuous process with no action taken by the government."

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T V Sriram in Colombo

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