Ragamwela villagers prevented from entering traditional lands | Daily News

Ragamwela villagers prevented from entering traditional lands


The traditional settlers of Ragamwela in Panama Pattuwa returned to their native village after six years yesterday, but faced obstruction from the Sri Lanka Air Force initially. The SLAF later withdrew, allowing the Police to take over.

Police arrived at the spot armed with a Court Order preventing the traditional settlers from taking over the place, but the villagers refused to go, saying the Court Order was without an official seal.

The Police had later returned with a Court Order carrying the official seal: both the Court Orders had prohibited the people from obstructing the Pottuvil-Panama main road and entering a land belonging to the Sri Lanka Air Force.

However, the people of Panama had pointed put that they were not flouting the Court Order in any way.

They said they were now residing on a land belonging to the Presidential Secretariat.

Governor of the Organisation for the Protection of Panama Pattuwa, Punchiralage Sumanasiri said that in 2010, an armed gang had arrived at the village and forcibly evicted them. No investigation had been conducted into this incident to date, he said.

He said they had formed the organisation six years ago in a bid to resolve this blatant land grab. The people of Panama had held a peaceful Satyagraha on March 28, 2016 in preparation for their peaceful takeover of lands once belonging to them.

The Sri Valukarama Viharaya which existed in Ragamwela six years ago was also revived on March 28, 2016, after being renamed Sri Yahapalanaramaya.

People said a Buddha statue and bodhi sapling had been bought by them to mark the occasion.

The people said they had made this decision to resettle because state officials including the Divisional Secretariat had disregarded Cabinet decisions. Police also took steps to summon Lahugala Divisional Secretariat L. A Somaratne to the spot. Police barred journalists from visiting the village on March 28 night. Police had even prevented food, water and other essentials from being passed on to the villagers. 

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