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Tamil farmers protest army occupation of grazing land in Batticaloa

Tamil farmers protested against the occupation of their grazing land by the Sri Lankan army by going on a march from Kokkadicholai to Paddipalai Divisional Secretariat office in Batticaloa on January 20th.

A petition was presented to the Batticaloa Divisional Secretary, regarding the 1500 plots of local land in Keviliyamadu that have been fenced up and cleared. The area

of Paduvankarai, is known to provide its residents for over a hundred years with rich agricultural soil and a means to living, by providing their cattle with pasture. The Sri Lankan government assisted in identifying and approving the area to be occupied by the Sri Lankan army.

The protest was attended by Batticaloa District MP Govindan Karunakaram of Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (ITAK)/ Tamil National Alliance (TNA), former MP for Batticaloa District, senior journalist and Media Secretary of ITAK/TNA Pakkiyaselvam Ariyanethran, Former Member of the Eastern Provincial Council M. Markandu Nadarajah, among hundred others including many local farmers.

The Paddipalai Divisional Secretariat promised locals that the situation would be brought to the attention of his superiors. 

Earlier this month, Tamil cattle farmers who went in search of their missing cattle were kidnapped and beaten by armed Sinhala men before being handed over to Sri Lankan police. While arrested, the Tamil farmers said they were tied and beaten by Sri Lankan soldiers.

A protest was also held by Tamil farmers in the Siththandi area of Mayilathamadu, Batticaloa, earlier this month against the land encroachment by Sinhala settlers.

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