Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam, chief of the Tamil National People’s Front, accused the Sri Lankan government of pursuing a plot to alter the demography of the Tamil homeland by confiscating Tamil lands and redrawing the borders of the North-East.
Speaking in the parliament during a discussion on the Retirement Age Bill, Ponnambalam said that “Lands belonging to Tamils have been deliberately appropriated from them for generations by the army and the government.”
“People must inhabit government-owned lands, but the government occupies the entire land without giving room for the civilians,” he added.
Ponnambalam went on to give specific figures regarding the government-sponsored appropriation of lands. “The Army has appropriated 80 batches of land in Allaipiddy, another 80 batches in Mankumban and 14 acres in Pungudutivu. These lands belong to private people and they own the bonds. But sustained efforts have been made to appropriate these areas,” he added.
The TNPF leader also described the colonisation of Mylanthanaimadu in Batticaloa, from which Sinhalese settlers refuse to leave despite a court ruling that declared the land to be grazing land belonging to the Tamils.
“At this stage, steps to link Tamil areas to the Sinhalese parts are being taken in the name of redrawing borders,” he continued. “Already, Nedunkeni in Vavuniya has been linked to Keppadikollava as a result of the redrawing of borders.”
“This is a deliberate attempt to alter the demography,” Ponnambalam stated. “We wouldn’t accept it. This would only create hostility and does not lead to development. Previous attempts towards changing the demography engendered serious differences.”
Ponnambalam also cautioned that a repeat of similar attempts made in the past would be opposed by all Tamil political parties.
The Sri Lankan state has been aggressively colonising the Tamil homeland by sponsoring Sinhalese settlements and deploying a disproportionate number of military troops in civilian areas. Appropriations of lands belonging to Tamils have also witnessed a spike under the current Rajapaksa administration.