Land dispute sparks tensions between villages in Vavuniya

A contentious land dispute has erupted between residents of Kokkuveli and Karuppanichchankulam, triggering tensions and leading to a standoff between the two communities. The dispute revolves around an attempted land grab by Sinhala families from Kokkuveli, who seek to build a crematorium and cemetery for their use.

The background of this conflict is complex. Residents of Karuppanichchankulam, who were formerly displaced due to the ethnic war, were recently resettled in the area. Many of them rely on cultivating paddy as their primary source of income.

Sinhala villagers from Kokkuveli claim that there used to be a cemetery and crematorium in Karuppanichchankulam that they previously used. However, the land is now owned by a Tamil individual, who asserts ancestral ownership and has cultivated it for years. The landowner expressed his position, stating that his family has lived on this ancestral property for generations and had been displaced during the war, only recently resettling and using the land for their livelihoods.

The villagers from Kokkuveli, accompanied by two Buddhist monks, forcibly entered Karuppanichchankulam to demand the reconstruction of the crematorium. They have not presented any concrete evidence to support their claim, and the residents of Karuppanichchankulam have documentation attesting to their ancestral ownership.

Notably, there are already three Buddhist crematoriums located adjacent to Kokkuveli, making their demand for another crematorium in Karuppanichchankulam appear unreasonable to the local residents.

The Vavuniya Divisional Secretary, who visited the site along with police officers, claimed that the land in question served as a cemetery and crematorium back in 1967. However, the residents of Karuppanichchankulam contest this assertion, noting that the Survey Department has no records of such a cemetery ever existing.

As tensions rise and the dispute escalates, the Divisional Secretariat has recommended legal intervention to determine the true ownership of the contested land. The dispute underscores the complexities and sensitivities surrounding land issues in the region.