July 10, Colombo: The Sri Lanka Army (SLA) has no plan to acquire civilians' lands in the Jaffna peninsula to establish Army camps Commander of Security Forces in Jaffna (SF-J) Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe has said Monday (09).
"Instead, Army has been continuously handing back houses occupied by the Army since the end of war to their legitimate owners," the Commander has told the British High Commissioner John Rankin at a meeting with him on Monday at the SF-J Headquarters in Jaffna.
However, as a matter of national security, SF-J Headquarters will acquire a limited area to expand the Palaly Airport and the Kankasanthurei Harbor, which are in the process of rapid expansion, the Commander has added.
High Commissioner Rankin has arrived in Palaly for a two day visit in Jaffna with Political Officer to Jaffna Mrs. Asma Edris.
Rankin while commending the Army's role in rehabilitation of the ex-LTTE combatants and other civilians in post war Jaffna has inquired about the alleged acquisition of lands by the Army.
Major General Hathurusinghe has strongly denied the accusations and pointed out to the visiting diplomat that the presence of military in Jaffna has been greatly reduced since 2009 and the remaining troops are engaged in humanitarian activities and development programs in Jaffna.
He has rejected the allegations of land grabbing as "media exaggerations spread with hidden agenda."
"Like any other parts of Sri Lanka, Army is essential in the sphere of national security and only required strength of troops will remain in Jaffna. Reduction of troops will further continue considering the security situation. However, Army is not ready to take a security risk as they faced in early 1980s," SF-J Commander has asserted to the British diplomat.
The Commander has appreciated the British government's contributions to de-mining, housing project for displaced civilians and livelihood programs for poor families, especially for ex-combatants.