Sri Lanka has assured New Delhi that its army will return the land of the displaced Tamils of Indian origin in the country's northern Vavuniya district, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao said today.
Rao, who ended her three-day trip to Sri Lanka today, said she had taken up the issue with the top leadership in the country.
"So we have taken it up with the Sri Lankan government. I took it up with economic development miniser Mr Basil Rajapaksa also. He has assured me that he is already looking into this matter. And he expects that it will be resolved and that these people go back," Rao told reporters.
"They are basically IDPs of Indian origin who had been resettled in Vavuniya area after 1977 riots. They had been cultivating their lands there and now after the war they had been shifted to the Menik farm IDP camp," the foreign secretary said.
There are today two groups of Tamils in Sri Lanka. The first are the Sri Lankan Tamils, who either descend from the Tamils of the old Jaffna kingdom or who migrated to the East coast.
Unlike Sri Lankan Tamils who were born here, the Tamils of Indian origin were brought to the country by the Britishers to work on the coffee, tea and rubber plantations in the late 19th century.
"There are about 150 families (around 1,000 people). They are facing some difficulties in returning. They said they had not been able to return to their areas of habitation," the foreign secretary said.
She said the army has apparently not cleared or released that land to them because after the war had ended the military had moved into these areas.
During her visit, Rao travelled to Vavuniya, Menik Farm (in Vavuniya) Chettikulam, Killinochchi, Omanthai, Jaffna Mullativu and Trincomalee to have a first hand knowledge of the rehabilitation process in the country.
She called on President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Wednesday and also interacted with senior leaders including defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa at a dinner held on Wednesday night by the Indian High commissioner Ashok Kumar Kantha.
Rao said she also met Opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe besides cross section of leaders from Tamil and other political parties. (PTI)