Apr 27, Colombo: Sri Lanka's main Tamil party, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) on Wednesday called for a probe on the alleged illegal occupation of civilian lands by the military in the Northern Province.
Responding to the accusation that the Leader of Opposition and TNA, R. Sampanthan entered an Army camp in Kilinochchi by force, TNA parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran said that there is "lot of hype" on the incident describing it as "an unauthorized forcible entry by the Leader of the Opposition into an Army Camp".
The Opposition Leader has been accused of entering the Sri Lanka Army's Gajaba Regiment camp at Paravipanjan area in the center of Kilinochchi town in the North with a group of party legislators including MP Sumanthiran.
Addressing media briefing today MP Sumanthiran said the area has been occupied by the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) for some time. He said there were 84 families who were displace from the area as a result of army's occupation.
He said that the Army reduced the extent of occupation at some point and due to that 34 families were able to return to their original homes and the remaining families are still not able to return because of the army's "forcible and illegal occupation of private property".
"If there is any illegality or force that has been, is by the Sri Lanka Army and not by the Leader of the Opposition," he charged.
MP Sumanthiran explained that the 54 families who cannot return to their homes, met the Opposition Leader and complained to the Mr. Sampanthan that the Army has taken over their houses but they are not even being used. They have asked the Opposition Leader to visit the area and he has obliged.
The MP said the sentries at the gate opened the barricades for the group and allowed them to enter and there was no forcible entry.
"Upon seeing Mr Sampanthan’s vehicle, the person who was at the sentry point at the entrance barricade opened the barricade without any question and the vehicles drove in and the people also followed him and they went around and saw all the houses," he said.
MP Sumanthiran said he had checked the records on the extent of land occupied by the Army and found that most of the area is private property. There is a very small area of about 5 acres that the army had wanted acquired and certain acquisition steps had been taken in respect of those 5 acres, he said.
"But much larger, over 25 acres of private land still remains in the legal ownership of private citizens of the country, and they are being prevented illegally by the Sri Lanka Army from occupying that area," he said.
He added that the Leader of Opposition met the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe this morning and complained to the PM that the army is preventing people from going back to their own houses.
“The Prime Minister assured us that he will call for a report from the army on this matter,” he said. The TNA MP stated that if people want an inquiry, it should be about the “illegal activity” of the Sri Lanka Army in occupying private residences and not about the Opposition Leader going into this area.