COLOMBO:The Sri Lankan government’s decision to return to the original Tamil owners, 1,055 acres of agricultural lands at Sampur in the Eastern Province, ends a decade-long Tamil struggle to get back lands seized by the Lankan armed forces during Eelam War IV.
“The 2,000 ousted families of Sampur have been living in refugee camps since 2006. About three years ago, the government had stopped giving dry rations to them to force them to leave the camps and stop entertaining hopes of getting back their lands. When NGOs went to distribute food parcels, the military would bar entry. But ultimately our struggle has borne fruit,” said Tamil National Alliance spokesman, Suresh Premachandran.
However, as the returnees in Jaffna found to their dismay, the Sampur returnees will also find resettlement a challenging task. Many houses, schools and temples are in a shambles and the land has to be cleared for cultivation.
When the Rajapaksa government was ousted in January this year, the successor government decided to give back all the seized lands to the original owners. They took back 818 acres given to the Board of Investment to set up an industrial zone because no investment had come. About 237 acres which were given to the Navy to set up a training centre will also be returned to their original civilian owners.