In 1990 when the LTTE issued a decree banishing all Muslims from their ancestral lands in the North, scores of Muslims including Fathima Rizwana (36) from the coastal village of Silvathurai fled their homes overnight in fear of their lives. Rizwana aged just nine at the time along with her siblings and father had taken a perilous journey by sea to the neighbouring India. But when Sri Lanka’s long drawn conflict ended in 2009, Rizwana and many others returned to Silavathurai in the hopes of rebuilding their lives only to find that the Sri Lanka Navy had set up camp on their ancestral lands.
According to the Governor meeting the Committee Presidential Task Force in the North and East on Thursday, the President again emphasised that wherever possible the forces must hand over private and state-owned land back to them. However, Raghavan says where there is strategic importance the government will provide full compensation based on the market value to the owners. “The military has a new rationale of owning and wanting to be positioned there. Therefore, the State must provide alternative land and compensation” he said.