Past midnight eviction in heart of Colombo
- Family alleges political forces, businessman behind land grab
BY Pamodi Waravita
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with an incident of an alleged forced eviction of a family from a land in Kollupitiya during the early hours of yesterday (11), whilst family members, claiming ownership to the land, allege powerful political forces, a rich businessman, and even cops were involved in the matter.
“A complaint has been received by the Police Headquarters about an incident that occurred early yesterday morning, where about 50 people have forcibly kicked a family out of the land they are living in. We have already arrested three people in connection with the incident,” Police Media Spokesman Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Nihal Thalduwa told The Morning yesterday.
Speaking to The Morning, one of the family members said that they are living in a container on the said land, which had been carried away by the thugs who had tried to evict them from the land yesterday.
“We were living here in a house until 2019. In 2019, my father, who is the head of our household and to whom this land belongs, went to jail for a minor charge. Along with me, there are eight other children and three grandchildren, the youngest of the latter being just 40 days old. After our mother left us, we went to live with relatives and in orphanages. During that time, a rich businessman had used this land and flattened our house. In 2020, my father was released from prison and we came back to this land this year. Since we didn’t have a house, we lived in an old container,” he said.
He added that serious threats started against them about three months ago. When they had sought help from the Kollupitiya Police Station, they had, according to him, been told to return if they were “abused or killed”. Family members also claim that a police officer attached to the Kollupitiya Police had attempted to coerce them into accepting the monetary offer given by the aforesaid businessman to vacate the land.
According to him, at around 2 a.m. yesterday, about 100 thugs had come with about 40 weapons, including pistols, and kicked them out of the container.
“They were shouting the name of a former mayor and threatened us, asking who we think we are in the face of a man like that mayor. We also suspect that there were about 50 people from the armed forces in that group due to the way they were talking and the weapons they carried. After they carried our container away, they brought another container here and put three private security guards to guard it. Those three were the ones who were arrested,” he said.
He added that they have documents dating back to the time of their great grandmother, supporting their rightful ownership of the 5.6-perch land.