There were almost 190 concrete-built houses, which stood in good shape when the SL Navy occupied Ira'nai-theevu twin-islands, which are situated 12 nautical miles west of Muzhangkaavil along the coast of Vanni in the Palk Bay. There was no military confrontations wihtin the islands in 2007-2008 when SL Navy occupied the islets. However, last week, three representatives of the protesting villagers, who went to witness the surveying of the lands, were shocked to see majority of their houses being razed to the ground by the occupying SL Navy. Only around 45 houses have standing structures. Among these, 15 to 20 houses could be reconstructed without much investment. The occupying SL Navy should bear the responsibility for the full and partial destruction of 187 houses, they said. Prior to 2007, the owners had dismantled only 3 houses, the villagers further said.
The entire destruction has been carried out by the SL Navy for the purpose of construction material for its military purposes, those who witnessed the status told TamilNet on Monday.
The representatives of the uprooted people were accompanied by the Parish Priest of Ira'nai-theevu.
The occupying SL Navy is having a ‘Naval Detachment’ at Ira'nai-theevu
The SL Survey Department officials carried out the first phase of their surveying last week. Another round of surveying will take place in 2 weeks, divisional secretariat officials said.
Occupying Sinhala Navy has been adamant in its refusal to release the occupied residential and livelihood twin-islet of Ira'nai-theevu. However, the uprooted people are determined to step up their protest if the occupying SL Navy failed to release their lands.
Since 01 May 2017, the uprooted people have been waging a continuous protest at Muzhangkaavil.
Around 500 families, numbering around 2,400 individuals, are staying in the temporary settlement at Ira'nai-maathaa-nakar in Muzhangkaavil.
The remaining 25% of the population from Ira'nai-theevu are staying in Oalaith-thoduvaay and Theavanpiddi in Mannaar and some in Jaffna district. Some of the uprooted people have also displaced overseas to Tamil Nadu in India.
The uprooted people from Ira'nai-theevu are staying at Ira'nai-maathaa-nakar since 1992. The locations of Ira'nai-theevu and Ira'nai-maathaa-nakar are shown in the map. [Image Courtesy: British made One Inch Map, revised in 1972 by ‘Sri Lanka’ Survey Department, Legend by TamilNet]
A detailed survey plan of Ira'nai-theevu North part, illustrating the pattern of land use carried out in the past. The area, marked in red, is a rocky area where there were no residences. That is also the area used for military purposes. Otherwise, the entire 1,200 acres of lands, that were utilised in the past for residential, fisheries industry or cattle farming, is now being commercially exploited by the SL Navy. Access to the coast and resumption of cattle farming are essential to ensure the livelihood of the people for a meaningful resettlement.