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SLFP MP appeals to Ranil Wickremesinghe over land grab in Valikamam North

A lawmaker who is a long-time Rajapaksa ally and Deputy Chairman of Parliament Committees Angajan Ramanathan has written to Sri Lanka's president Ranil Wickremesinghe over the forcible acquisition of 500 acres of land in Valikamam North by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, which has been causing much distress to local Tamil residents in these areas. 

“The current residents having spent more than 25 years in refugee camps and other locations have painstakingly renovated and established residences on these lands,” Ramanathan said.

“The prospect of losing their homes once again has created panic and distress among the affected population,” he added. 

Ramanathan has appealed to the president to intervene in this matter and forced expropriation of the lands in question. “The residents of Kurumbasiddy, Kadduvan, and Kupplan North have suffered enough due to the consequence of war and subjecting them to further displacement will only exacerbate their situation,” Ramanathan says in his letter. 

He called on Wickremesinghe to review the existing plan by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation and to consider alternative solutions that would not infringe upon the rights and well-being of the vulnerable communities. “Failing to address this matter may compel the affected residents to mobilize and engage in democratic protest to safeguard their rightful homes.”

Ramanathan says that out of the 500 acres of land sought by the Ministry, these plots of land fall within the Kurumbasiddy, Kadduva and Kupplan North areas in Valikamam North within the Thelippalai Divisional Secretariat in Jaffna. 

The President of the Kurumbasiddy Rural Development Society had forwarded Ramanthan a letter detailing the distress families in those areas were experiencing upon which the President’s intervention was sought. 

Meanwhile, T.N Ammom, the senior assistant secretary to the President has written to the Secretary to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation K.D.S Ruwanchandran seeking a detailed report regarding the matter to be sent to the Presidential Secretariat by March 05. 

The Tamil Guardian reported an incident last week when officials from the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Aviation had come to these areas to conduct a survey and were forced to retreat when residents in the area objected. 

After learning that officials were planning to measure the land today, residents from Kurumbasiddy, Vasavilan, Kadduvan, Kadduvan West and Kuplan flocked to the site to stop the officers from measuring the land which is for the development and extension of the Jaffna International Airport in Palali.

The residents had submitted a written objection to the District Secretary and demanded an urgent meeting to address the matter, however, they are yet to receive a response. 

Recently residents said officials from the Survey Department of Sri Lanka along with gramasevaka had visited the area around Valikamam North and surveyed a new parcel of land in the presence of the locals. 

Tamil Guardian reported this attempt by the government to grab nearly 500 acres of land in Valikamam North in January 2024, when officials accompanied by the gramasevaka were seen surveying the land despite there being several homes constructed there. 

“These are residents who after undergoing many hardships are now farming on their lands to make ends meet, we ask then why are there officials coming to survey the land and ask for our signatures,” asked one of the residents. “We were right there, in our homes when we observed that they were surveying the land around the same area. We cannot accept nor allow them to take back these lands.”

Ramanathan remains closely linked to the Rajapaksa regime, which carried out the Mullivaikkal genocide and numerous other crimes against Eelam Tamils, including land grabs.

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