Tamils fight back ongoing land grabbing in northern Sri Lanka

The war-affected Tamil people have once again resisted another land grabbing effort in the Northern part of Sri Lanka that continues unmindful of the plight of the people who are yet to sustain their livelihood after enduring three decades of brutal conflict.

Led by women, on Monday 15th, Tamil war survivors came to the streets in Killinochi district to protest as they were forcefully evicted from their lands and their makeshift houses demolished with the support of police.

A-9 blocked

Hundreds of people living in makeshift huts in Karanthai in Palai area of Killinochi allege they were evicted even after the courts ruled in their favour to stay there.

Traffic on the important A-9 highway was blocked as families whose homes were demolished sat in protest. Police were forced to back down and agreed to build their houses failing which the families have vowed to be back on the roads again.

Police claim the land where they had set up their dwelling units belongs to the Coconut Development Board which is disputed by the Tamils living there.

Tamil have settled in the land in Pacchilaippali DS division since 1976 and were uprooted due to the civil war but returned back in 2010 and started living there. However, the Coconut Development Board evicted them claiming it to be their land.

The Sri Lanka Human Rights Commission office in Jaffna ordered the land to be returned to the rightful owners within two weeks in January last year. Since no action was taken to return their lands, the locals say they were left with no alternative but to enter the land and set up temporary huts and start living there.

Following this, the Coconut Development Board allegedly with the assistance of the local police barged into the land and the houses were demolished following which they came to the streets to protest.

Locals say most of the employees of the Coconut Development Board staying there are Sinhalese people and allege the Tamils are being chased away to make way for the Sinhalese to settle there.


Meanwhile about 20 acres of fertile forest land in Manavalanpattamurippu has been alleged usurped by a member of the Puthukudiyiruppu Pradeshya Sabha.

The public allege they suspect the connivance of the officials from the forest department, police, and Divisional Secretariat being part of this deforestation and land grabbing.

In the absence of any proper document, the illegal deforestation is continuing unabated, according to locals.

A petition filed under the 'Right to Information Act’ seeking details about the documents regarding the ‘clearing of the forest land’ from the Oddusuddan Divisional Secretariat is yet to be answered raising suspicion about the involvement of the DS officials in this illegal deforestation according to those who filed the petition.

Heavy machinery has been used for the past few months extending well beyond the forest department’s border.

Local people also question the rationale of allegedly granting permission to a local body member for clearing and grabbing 20 acres of forest land while people who are facing livelihood crisis are unable to secure even half an acre of forest land for their survival.

Public from the Mullaitivu district are demanding action against those allegedly responsible for denuding the 20 acres of forest land or documents relating to granting permission to be make public.

Mullaitivu has the largest forest cover in Sri Lanka and is highly valued for its ecological riches and plays a vital role in the annual rainfall in that region on which most of the people in the district survive.



Journalists for Democracy in Sri Lanka

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