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Valikamam: 'A new year gift'

In April 2018, around 650 acres of land owned by Tamils that remained under the government military occupation since 1990, were released to the owners.

The decision to return lands to their original owners, which coincided with Sinhala new year celebrations, is a "New Year Gift", announced the army.

The area that remained occupied for 28 years after being declared as a High Security Zone, also included some of the lands that came under Valikamam North Divisional Secretariat in Jaffna.

"When the army roams around, they take mine detectors and sophisticated machinery with them to ensure their safety. But we have none of that," said a returnee.

"We have to take the risk of being blown off, which is an option comes with the New Year Gift".

Most of the houses were razed to the ground before the handover. The remaining ruins stood as ghosts - forgotten and abandoned.

"We need to pay at least 35,000 rupees to clean a water well while clearing the land would cost Rs. 3,000 rupees per hour," many complained.

"We lost everything. " whispered an old man.

"First they took our rights and then our children and land. When we have reached the end, after going through innumerable miseries, we get new year gifts," he said.

Then sighed and walked away.☐

Credits:

Roshan Chaturanga | JDS Lanka

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