Eastern Tamils march against eviction

[TamilNet, Sunday, 25 March 2001, 13:39 GMT]
Hundreds of Tamil men and women of Linganagar, a settlement in Trincomalee town on land which the Sri Lanka army claims to own, marched through the streets of Trincomalee Sunday morning amidst tight security by armed police shouting slogans and carrying banners and placards demanding the government that they should be allowed to live on their land.

One of the organisers of the protest march told TamilNet that they face imminent eviction from their homes and that all their appeals to the government have fallen on deaf years for more than five years. The Sri Lanka army wants the people in the settlement evicted. A Tamil politician who was associated with the march today charged that the eviction is an insidious pretext to further undermine the Tamils population in the eastern port town.

linganagar_protest_1_250301.jpgThe participants of the demonstration shouted slogans such as "Linganagar is our homeland", "We will not allow Tamil soil to others", "We will safeguard our birthright".

The protest march, which commenced from Linganagar Murugan Kovilady, ended at Trincomalee Town Hall where a public meeting was held under the auspices of the Eelam Peoples' Democratic Party (EPDP).

Mr.S.Sivathasan, EPDP Parliamentarian attended the meeting. A memorandum addressed to Mr.Douglas Devananda, Secretary General of the EPDP was handed over to Mr.Sivathasan. The affected Tamil families have requested the EPDP leader to take up this matter with the Sri Lankan government to find a satisfactory solution to the problem as they fear that they would evicted from their settlement soon.

Thirty-seven years ago the Trincomalee Urban Council constructed a housing scheme in the Mattikali area, one km northwest of Trincomalee town. About twenty-five houses were constructed and allotted to homeless people of the area.

Swami Yogiraj Sachchithanandaji who founded a religious institution called Sivananda Thapovanam in Uppuveli, a suburb of Trincomalee town in 1950s declared open this housing scheme in 1964 at the request of the then Chairman of the Trincomalee Urban Council. He named this housing scheme as Linganagar Housing Scheme. The area then came to be known as Linganagar.

A woman handing over the memorandum to EPDP Parilamentarian S.Sivathasan at the Trincomalee Town Hall.

In 1989 the elected administration of the NEPC settled some Tamil families in the bare land found near the Linganagar housing scheme. When fighting broke out again in 1990, the newly settled families along with the inmates of the housing scheme left the area fearing for their lives.

In 1993 the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party took action to resettle the displaced Tamil families. About 265 Tamil families were resettled in about 47 acres of land. The majority of these Tamil families constructed permanent houses with bricks and asbestos roofs.

Five years ago the Sri Lanka Army informed the Divisional Secretary, for Trincomalee Town and Gravets that the particular piece of land occupied by about 265 families belongs to it. The SLA said that it had acquired that land for security purposes. The military also told the Divisional Secretary that it considers the occupants of the land as encroaches.

The SLA then instructed the Trincomalee Divisional Secretary to hand over the land to them after ejecting the Tamils who had settled there.

Thereafter Divisional Secretary issued notices to the occupants to leave the land. But the occupants refused to leave the land stating that they had constructed permanent houses and had lived there for more than ten years, which in law entitled them the right to own their respective plots of land.

The matter was then taken up with the Sri Lankan President by the Secretary General of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party Mr. Douglas Devananda and Mr. R. Sampanthan, Secretary General of the Tamil United Liberation Front to no avail.

In the meantime, the Trincomalee Divisional Secretary filed cases against 40 families out of 265 living in Linganagar, seeking their eviction.

The inquiry into these cases was concluded last week. The order in these cases is to be delivered on April 4 this year at the Trincomalee Magistrate's Court.

At the last date of inquiry, the court had informed that they should take up this matter at the political level if they wanted a favourable settlement. Otherwise he had to order for their eviction. The affected Tamil families organized the mass protest march Sunday morning consequent to the order.

A section of Linganagar women holding placards in the protest march.


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