Chilies produced at the Army Headquarters Agricultural Farm in Palaly, Jaffna have been widely distributed in local markets. This is the tragic incident in which the army, which has occupied the lands of Valikamam North farmers for more than 30 years, has been cultivating chillies on those lands.
The Army said it was engaged in chilli production on farms with the aim of becoming self-sufficient in agricultural production under the “Thuru Mithuru Nava Rattak” programme under the direction of Major General Priyantha Perera, Commander of the Jaffna Defense Forces Headquarters.
The Army has declared a large amount of civilian land around the Palaly Security Forces Headquarters and declared it a High Security Zone. For the past 12 years since the end of war, Tamil politicians have been accusing the military of farming the occupied public lands and selling them to the people, which has severely affected the livelihoods of the people.
According to California-based think tank Oakland Institute, which has recently published a report on Sri Lanka, around 3,300 acres of civilian land remains in the possession of the military in Valikamam North, Jaffna which is where many army bases and farms are located.
The people who own these lands continue to live in camps and rented houses for more than 30 years. According to Oakland Institute, as of today, 60 families live in Neethavan Camp, and 79 families live in Sabapathippillai camp. A total of 1,304 people are still living in 22 camps in the areas of Valikamam and Vadamaratchi in Jaffna District.