Residents of Panama reiterate that at the conclusion of the 30 day ultimatum on August 22 they will in fact return to the land that was allegedly illegally taken from them. Speaking to The Nation resident of Panama and leader of the group P. Somasiri said their meeting with the District Secretary of Ampara Thusitha P. Wanigasinghe and Lahugala Divisional Secretary L.A Somarathna on August 19 and 20 brought no positive results.
According to Somasiri they have not taken drastic action despite the delay of returning their land due to the pre-election period and election laws. “Our protests are blocked by the Police by threatening to arrest us under election laws for unlawful gatherings” he said adding that therefore the group will take action after the elections have concluded.
Recently Somarathna had informed the residents that instructions have been sent by the Prime Minister’s office to the Ministry of Resettlement, Reconstruction and Hindu Religious Affairs to do the needful. “We only take these words at face value,” Somasiri said.
Currently 1,220 acres in Shasthrawela, Panama has been appropriated by the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force after the land was transferred to the Presidential Secretariat by the Lahugala Divisional Secretariat stating the land is not in use. However, even though the Cabinet decided on February 11 to redistribute the land, no clear directive has so far been issued to the government authorities in order to take the necessary steps required.