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Mannar residents demand return of land from Sri Lankan occupation

The villagers of Isaimalaithalvu in Mannar staged a protest demanding the Nanattan Divisional Secretariat hand over 46 acres of land presently held by the Sri Lankan Forest Department.

The protest took place at the Komban Saintha Kuluam area of the Nanattan Divisional Secretariat on Wednesday (31). The protestors demanded that the 46 acres be handed to the 113 families in the Isaimalaithalvu village within that division. They also said that people from other neighbouring villagers are trespassing and illegally occupying several acres of this area, to which they demanded that authorities take necessary action. The villagers said that since they do not have a permanent place they are facing several inconveniences, with more than two families living under one roof due to this situation. 

The demonstrators asked that members of parliament and the relevant authorities in the Mannar district also bring the issue to the attention of Sri Lanka's president to seek his intervention. They asked that measures be taken to distribute the land among the people of Isaimalaithalvu who have no other place to go. 

The ongoing protests for lands to be handed back to their rightful owners in the North-East comes as the President's Media Unit announced a new initiative titled  “Urumaya”which they claimed would "solve land issues for 2 million people" will begin on February 05. 

Minister of Tourism, Lands and Sports and Youth Affairs Harin Fernando claimed the distribution of freehold deeds to 10,000 land licensees will be completed and the program will cover 14,000 Grama Niladhari divisions across the country. This also involves granting freehold land deeds to those who currently hold licenses like Ran Bhoomi, Jaya Bhoomi, and Swarna Bhoomi.

This week, the Tamil Guardian also reported on a recent incident in Valikamam North in Jaffna where an attempt to acquire 500 acres of land that had been handed to its rightful owners had been exposed by locals. 

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