To mark 359 days of the removal of the families of Iranaitheevu Maathanagar from their own land, the residents initially planned a hunger strike. In less than a month, nine years will have passed since the end of the war. However, the Navy seized the entire Iranaitheevu island without considering the rights of the people. In doing so, it has also deprived them of the ability to carry out their traditional livelihood.
Nearly 40 boats protested against this situation on April 23, 2018. About 300 people who were displaced from Iranaitheevu Matha Nagar symbolically came to the island. They, along with religious leaders who accompanied them, interrogated three Navy officers.
“Why have you come here today? We are spending Rs. 1 million to build your church again. We are in the process of building it.”
“Their problem is not with the church. These innocent people want to come back here to pray the same way they used to. To return to their traditional livelihood and way of life on land that is rightfully theirs. To view the landscape that is their home.."
Iranaitheevu is where these people were born, a place where they lived for 200 years. They want to see their homes. They want to live their lives. Their demands are simple. You do the work set out for you, as the Navy. The people will carry on their own lives. You being here won’t trouble them. Today, these people have come to stay here. That’s why we made this journey,” Reverend Arul Chelvan told the Navy officials.
"Will you return [to the mainland] after the end of today?" Vikalpa asked a group of mothers,
They answered with one voice, “We are not going back today. See, we even changed our clothes. This is our wealth, our land. At the time of shelling and bullets, we cultivated this land. We will not return until our land is given back to us.”