Landless Tamils in Maanthai West should be given new lands: senior grassroots activist

[TamilNet, Thursday, 06 October 2016, 16:25 GMT]
Various acts enacted by the colonial British rulers before 1948 had brought the public lands in the entire island into the domain of the Colombo-based State structure and its constitution, which was enacted without the democratic mandate of the nation of Eezham Tamils in the North-East. It was the so-called ‘Crown Lands Encroachment Ordinance’ that brought these lands, for which private ownership could not be documented, into Crown property in 1840. Later, in 1972, after the Sinhalese unilaterally enacted the genocidal State of ‘Sri Lanka’, amidst protests and without the democratic mandate of Eezham Tamils, a series of ‘land reforms’ were introduced by Colombo. Even these reforms brought after 1972 are now being violated by the SL State itself in seizing the lands of Tamils, says Seemanpillai Sountharanayakam, the deputy chairman of Maanthai West Divisional Council.

The 76-year-old grassroots activist says those claiming to be stakeholders in alienating the public lands in Maanthai division should first know the history.

Resettling Tamils should be given lands. But, the SL officials are alienating public lands to others, he said.

Under the Land Reform Law of 1972, no private person could own more than 50 acres of highland and 25 acres of paddy lands. But, the divisional secretary and other officials have allocated hundreds and even thousands of acres to private owners while uprooted Tamils are not given lands to properly resettle and commence their livelihoods, Mr Southaranayakam told TamilNet in a video interview on Thursday.

Maanthai West Divisional Council has been tasked to look after a large area including Madu. Mr Sountharanayakam has been calling for separate Divsional Councils (Piratheasa Chapais) to be established for Madu administrative division. But, there has been no positive response to the request even though everyone seems to agree with the idea, he said.

Maanthai West, the largest administrative division in Mannaar is also the division that has suffered most during the times of war, he said.

The war-affected people have not been allocated housing-schemes and there has been no proper reparations or assistance provided to the people of Maanthai West. The village infrastructures were completely destroyed in the last war and the people were on constant displacement since 1990 to 2009.

The psychological scars of the kith and kin of the persons who have been subjected to forced disappearances are yet to be healed, he said.



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