ACML urges action on Neethai settlers
[TamilNet, Tuesday, 07 September 1999, 20:01 GMT]
The lands allocated to villagers in the Neethai area in the south-eastern Ampara district for sugarcane cultivation have been taken over by Sinhalese settlers and authorities should act promptly to evict these encroaches, said the youth front of the Ampara District Federation of the All Ceylon Muslim League (ACML).
In a memorandum to Muslim parliamentarians and to the organisers of all political parties in the area, the League said 150 Muslim families lost their traditional lands in 1965 due to an acquisition order made by the government.
"They agitated for about 21 years that they should be provided with alternative lands. In 1987, these 150 Muslim families were given lands at Neethai area, two and a half acres per head, for sugar cultivation. These lands come under the administration of the Akkaraipattu, Thamana and Irakamam Divisional Secretaries," the League said.
"Due to violence and arsons in the past, these Muslim farmers had sustained heavy losses in the sugarcane cultivation. Later they abandoned sugarcane cultivation and started paddy cultivation on these lands," it said.
However, around mid August several members of the Sinhala community summoned a meeting at the office of the Grama Sevaka of Neethai area. Thereafter these lands given to the Muslim families have been encroached, argues the League.
"Now the Muslim farmers are unable to go their lands to do paddy cultivation. Ethnic tension has built up in this area due to the high-handed actions of the majority community," it said.
It added: "All should get together forgetting party differences to ask the government to eject the encroaches from these lands, allocated to the Muslim farmers."
Copies of this memorandum have been sent to the President of the Muslim Party, Organisers of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, Sri Lanka Freedom Party and United National Party.