Thursday, October 21, 2004

Alleged killers of taxi driver remanded By M.W. Somaratne

Three suspects who were taken into custody at Rattota in Matale for allegedly killing a trishaw driver and throwing the body into a well before robbing his trishaw were remanded till October 26, police said.

The victim was identified as Kappidiyal Mohamad Ameer (27) a father of three children and a resident of Vavuniya. The suspects, Pathiranalage Priyantha Samarasekera, Maithripala and Gamini Dissanayake were arrested on a tip off and were produced before Matale chief Magistrate Siri Rajapakse.

Inquiries have revealed that on October 12 the suspects had hired the trishaw at Vavuniya and the driver had been later killed at Setikulam.

Norwegians not aware of govt. counter proposals by Sunimalee Dias

The Norwegian facilitators have conveyed to the LTTE that they are not aware of any counter proposal by the government and if there were any such proposals they could place them at the negotiating table.

This was communicated to the LTTE when Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim met LTTE chief negotiator Anton Balasingham on Monday in London. Norwegian Ambassador Hans Brattsker was also present at the meeting. When Balasingham questioned about media reports concerning the government's alternative proposals, Solheim had replied saying that according to their knowledge there was no such proposals but the alternative proposals of the government might be placed on the negotiating table if there were any.

Commenting later Mr. Balasingham has said that Norway was optimistic that no alternative proposals would be given by the government before resuming peace talks.

During the meeting Norwegians had also briefed Balasingham of views held by Indian, US and Canadian governments regarding the peace process.

Prior to the meeting Norwegians have also briefed British Foreign Ministry officials about the meeting. Meanwhile, Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen is expected in Colombo during the 1st week of November on the invitation of the President Chandrika Kumaratunga. He is also expected to meet the LTTE in Kilinochchi during his visit.

Soldier allegedly shoots herself by Kurulu Kariyakarawana

A 26-year-old female soldier attached to the Monkey Bridge army camp at China Bay in Trincomalee committed suicide by shooting herself on Tuesday night.

The victim a resident of Udapussellawa had been on duty with two other female soldiers at the second security post.

She had taken over the shift from midnight to 2.00 am while the rest had gone to sleep and had then shot herself in the chest with her T-56 weapon.

The victim was soon rushed to Trincomalee hospital but was found dead on admission.

China Bay Inspector Clement Fernando said the reason for the suicide was not known.

"Her past records have been normal and the only significant fact is that the victim had not taken her dinner on Tuesday night", the OIC said.

The body of the soldier is at the Trincomalee hospital morgue awaiting the post mortem examination.

Political alliance formed to counter LTTE activities by Gagani Weerakoon

Several political parties and civil organizations have formed a coalition to act against the killings and abductions committed by the LTTE.

Sources said these groups who gathered in Colombo on Monday for the first time decided to take maximum action to combat killings and abductions of the LTTE as much as possible. "They will hold a general convention in Colombo at the end of this month to inform the general public on their mission," sources said.

The coalition consists of political parties both from the northern as well as the southern part of the country. The Daily Mirror learns that Tamil political parties including the EPDP, EPRLF and PLOTE are also in this coalition. It was also reported that Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna, Mahajana Eksath Peramuna and another Muslim political party representatives also participated in the initial discussions..

Several civil organizations including the 'Students for Human Right and the National University Teachers Association also had taken part in this meeting.

The parties gathered had unanimously agreed that the LTTE was taking full advantage of the ceasefire agreement and hold the monopoly of bearing arms limiting the free movement of their opponents. They had agreed "to take proper steps to prevent such killings and abductions LTTE would commit in future and to be united on any such occasion, he said.

How Veerappan was trapped

The forest brigand Veerappan and three of his key associates, who were killed in an encounter on Monday night, were lured out of their hideout by Special Task Force personnel who had finally managed to infiltrate the gang. An STF man, who had gained their confidence, drove Veerappan and his gang straight into the trap set up at Paparapatti village in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district.

Ex-captain shot dead by Senaka De Silva

An Army captain who had been dismissed from service for fraud, was shot dead in his vehicle at Melford Crescent in Dehiwala on Tuesday night.

The victim a resident of Nugegoda was identified as Javid Abdul Hakim (45) a father of three children. Inspector R.P. Senanayake said the ex-captain had involved in shady activities in the guise of carrying on business.

He is an accused in connection with two robberies at Pettah and Wellawatte. He had apparently gone to Dehiwala to keep an appointment when he was shot with a .38 calibre pistol. He had gunshot injuries on his chest and head. Police recovered six empty cartridges from the scene of the killing.

Police are conducting investigations to determine whether the killing was due to some business rivalry or to a family dispute or whether the victim had any underworld connections.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: The Additional Director-General of Police, K. Vijay Kumar, who heads the Tamil Nadu Special Task Force, is cheered by colleagues in Dharmapuri on Tuesday after the forest brigand Veerappan and three of his aides were shot dead in an operation the previous night.

The forest brigand Veerappan and three of his key associates, who were killed in an encounter on Monday night, were lured out of their hideout by Special Task Force personnel who had finally managed to infiltrate the gang. An STF man, who had gained their confidence, drove Veerappan and his gang straight into the trap set up at Paparapatti village in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district.

Tamil Nadu STF chief, Additional Director General of Police, K. Vijay Kumar, said `Operation Cocoon’ was the result of 10 months of planning and three weeks of meticulous preparation. But the operation lasted only 45 minutes from the time the gang got into the ambulance, which was actually an STF vehicle. Veerappan may have been on his way to get treatment for an eye ailment (cataract).

A 35-member team lay in wait at Paparapatti village. Some of the securitymen were hidden in a reinforced tanker lorry parked by the road; others had taken position atop a nearby school.

Mr. Vijay Kumar said that when challenged the gang initially did not respond. A second warning to surrender was greeted with gunfire. The STF retaliated with stun grenades and gunfire. Before this the driver of the ambulance, an STF operative, made good his escape as planned.

Veerappan died on the spot. His lieutenant, Sethukuzhi Govindan, Chandre Gowde, and the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA) extremist, Sethumani, who had joined the gang during recent abduction episodes, died on way to hospital.

The STF seized a non-ballistic 12 bore Remington pump action gun, which can spray bullets effectively for bush fighting, two AK-47s, a self-loading rifle (7.62) and two hand grenades. About Rs. 3.5 lakhs was also recovered.

The operation was the result of intelligence inputs the STF had got over a period, Mr. Vijay Kumar said. It had managed to plant four men in the Veerappan gang. They had settled in the villages on the fringes of the forest and won the confidence of the gang. Other STF men posed as taxi drivers, bus conductors, hawkers and masons and provided information crucial to the operation.

Intelligence inputs indicated that the brigand, who had an eye ailment, was trying to establish contact with persons in South Arcot and Perambalur districts, possibly for medical assistance and to add to his manpower.

These two districts form a belt of Tamil extremism. There were reports suggesting that the brigand was in a mood to leave the jungles to escape from the police net, an official added.

Destination unknown

However, Mr. Vijay Kumar said it was unclear where the brigand was heading. Further investigation by the STF and the police may throw light on any accomplices, facilitators or abettors.

Mr. Vijay Kumar said, "the absence of red-tapism and miscommunication" proved to be the advantage of the STF. "One aim, one goal and one mission of both the STFs led to the accomplishment of the task," Mr. Vijay Kumar said.

After monitoring the movement of the brigand, the entire manpower was deployed in the area, thus "bringing the elusive fugitive into a tightly knit police net," he said.

Asked whether there would be any DNA tests to confirm the identity of the bodies, Mr. Vijay Kumar said the intelligence sleuths had confirmed the identity. The gang was, unusually, not in camouflage clothing; Veerappan was in white, with the moustache trimmed to deceive the police, he said.

Mr. Vijay Kumar’s Karnataka counterpart, the IGP (STF), Jyoti Prakash Mirji; the IG (West Zone-Tamil Nadu), A. Subramanian and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Salem Range, N. Tamizh Selvan, were present at the media event.

The operation was led by the ADGP himself, assisted by the Superintendents of Police, N.K. Senthamaraikannan (who masterminded the intelligence trap), K. Shanmugavelu and P. Chinnasamy.

The core team consisted of the Deputy Superintendents of Police, N. Thirunavukkarasu, and Hussain. Inspectors N. Rajarajan and Mohan Nawaz led the ambush team.

Praise for the boys

Mr. Vijay Kumar said that he "salutes and worships the valour and sincerity shown by the boys in accomplishing the mission." The brigand was both physically and psychologically down, facing squabbles within the four-member group, he said.

Despite the presence of reinforcements, including the standby paramilitary forces from the neighbouring districts, the police had a tough time managing the crowd here.

Onlookers swamped the General Hospital since morning to take a look at the bodies.

3 bullet wounds

UNI reports:

The post-mortem examination conducted on Veerappan’s body today revealed that he had suffered three bullet injuries. A confidential medical report said he had sustained bullet injuries on his forehead, chest and hip. One bullet was taken out during the post-mortem examination.

Sethukuzhi Govindan had 15 bullet injuries. Sethumani had six bullet injuries and Chandre Gowde had six bullet injuries.

Courtesy: The Hindu

Muslim hostage killed in LTTE crossfire

At least one Muslim had been killed on Tuesday night at Mulawattuwan in the Batticaloa district when a group of Karuna loyalists attacked a gang of LTTE cadres holding several Muslims, military sources said.

The sources said the LTTE had detained a group of Muslims when they were engaged in collecting firewood. They had been taken to an LTTE hideout in the area. But a few hours’ later Karuna loyalists had attacked the hideout. In the exchange of fire, several Muslims had escaped but unfortunately one who was caught in the crossfire had died of gun shot injuries. (NP)

Ex-intelligence op found dead

An ex-army captain was found dead in his car, close to the Dehiwela beach yesterday.

The police acting on information received from residents of the area visited the scene identified the victim as Captain Mohammed Suresh Jaward Abdul Casim, who had been attached to the military intellgence unit.

Initial inquiries have revealed that the victim, who had served in Trincomalee during the war, had left his Nugegoda residence on the previous day in the company of a friend. Police did not rule out the possibility of the ex-officer’s friend shooting him dead over a private dispute.

Military sources said the victim had been removed from service about 10 years ago on disciplinary grounds. (NP)

They want Govt. to act against LTTE

Several civil society groups and political parties including the JVP, MEP, EPDP, EPRLF and TELO have decided to call a meeting in Colombo later this month as part of their efforts to pressure the government to take action against the LTTE. A spokesperson said the LTTE was taking advantage of the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) to neutralise their opponents.

A Defence Co-operatIon Ageeement with India by K. Godage

A delegation from India is visiting this country to finalize the long awaited Defence Cooperation Agreement; we hope that it would be an agreement which has not only substance but fills that all important vacuum in our national security. What it should not be is an agreement, which covers already existing arrangements. The DCA must send out a signal to the LTTE, if otherwise it would be a waste of time.

The LTTE vehemently opposed the Indian Oil Corporation being given the Oil Tank complex in Trincomalee and there were very important members of the former government who had reservations, stating that we were sending a wrong signal to the LTTE and jeopardizing their `EBsacred`ED peace process but thanks to renewed Indian interest (after 1987) and the persistence of a member of the former cabinet, the deal went through and the LTTE were compelled to reconcile themselves to it. The presence of the IOC in Trinco; its expanded interests in Sri Lanka is in a sense an insurance policy against the LTTE. The other initiative of the previous administration was the Defence Cooperation Agreement, which was also opposed by the LTTE and the same group who claimed to be owners of the peace process in the previous administration. They kept looking over their shoulder at the LTTE --- not only because they feared that the LTTE would make it an issue to pull out of the talks (the LTTE pulled out for much less when it suited them though they hugged and kissed after Hakone) but because they feared assassination at the hands of the LTTE if they crossed them.

The Defence Cooperation Agreement, an initiative particularly pushed by former Minister Moragoda, is now on the verge of becoming a reality. If it is properly crafted it would send the best possible message to the LTTE to fall in line and agree to a settlement based on the Oslo Accords. The LTTE only understands one language `F1and that is not the language of appeasement `F1which was the language in which certain members of the former administration spoke to the LTTE. The LTTE has no respect for the weak and vacillating appeasers, they respect only the strong. They read appeasement as a sign of weakness.

There were fears that the new government after it sent a delegation to India immediately it came to office to discuss the DFA had also been infected by the UNP bug `EChow will it impact on the sacred peace process`EE. This was because of the unexplained delay to conclude the DFA. The Indians would no doubt have had to factor in the opposition from the DMK but in India most fortunately national interest supersedes parochial interests.

We were indeed hopeful after the initial visit of the new government`EDs delegation to India for discussions on regional security that a Defence Co-operation Agreement would be concluded at the earliest. That visit indicated a continuation of Defence and Foreign policy, which is vital for this country. Some detractors have commented that the PA has stolen the UNF`EDs clothes but this is not correct. The PA and the SLFP have always wanted the closest of relations with India.

The citizenry of the country would no doubt be pleased that this initiative is at long last about to come to fruition. The President should have included a nominee of the UNP on that first delegation to flag the fact that when it comes to national security, it is a bipartisan policy that this country follows---is this too much to ask of our politicians? In the same spirit that motivated the establishment of the National Peace Council the President should invite, even at this late stage, a representative from the UNP to be a part of the national delegation to the talks. This would show the world that we could be responsible people.

Our relations with India saw a significant change after 1994. Credit should be given to President Chandrika Kumaratunga and former Minister of Foreign Affairs Lakshman Kadirgamar for having reached out to mend fences and restore the relationship to what it had been during the period of Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. After the Government of Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe took over, he and Minister Moragoda further strengthened this relationship. They had, fortunately for this country, cultivated close personal relations with the Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee when he was in the opposition. During Mr. Wickramasinghe`EDs administration we saw a quantum leap in relations not only with Delhi but also with Tamil Nadu. No previous leader reached out to the South. This is a fact that must be flagged. I do hope the present leadership would also cultivate close personal relations with their counterparts in India.

It was President Kumaratunga, who launched the Free Trade Agreement with India. Though many had reservations and fears about the outcome of that Agreement it has worked out well for us. The Wickramasinghe administration has taken Economic Cooperation to new heights by extending the Free Trade concept from Goods to Services and Investment. A major achievement indeed. It was also the Wickramasinghe administration with Minister Moragoda doing the legwork that was able to lure the Indians into taking over the Trincomalee oil tank complex. They have increased their investment in this country by taking over and improving more than a hundred filling stations. Indian investment in this country today surpasses all others.

Military co-operation has been in existence for quite sometime and the Indians have been helping us with training in particular. The now pass`C8 Letters that were exchanged between President Jayewardena and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi included clauses relating to defence cooperation. That Agreement is `EBpasse`ED because both sides have been in default, having observed it in the breach. The world has also moved on and Indian foreign policy has also changed since the days when certain Indian hegemonists sought to Bhutanize this country by circumscribing our sovereignty.

Co-operation in the Defence field had increased significantly during the Wickramasinghe administration, which perceived of a new Defence Co-operation Agreement as a vital element in the peace process itself. The unfurling of a strategic umbrella over Sri Lanka was a vital element of the Wickramasinghe administration`EDs strategy. It is no secret that Prime Minister Wickremasinghe the Defence Cooperation Agreement was an instrument to check LTTE`EDs ambitions. But in this regard it must once again be stated that the PM seemed cautious as to how the LTTE would react to such an Agreement. I come to this conclusion on the basis of the time spent without movement on this and also perhaps the fact that the LTTE sympathizers in the `EBhouse`ED may have asked him to proceed cautiously. But why should the then Prime Minister have had to look over his shoulder to see how the LTTE would react, for the LTTE had done him no favours? They have on the contrary only embarrassed him by their actions, which have resulted in the Defence portfolio being taken away and finally his administration being toppled.

It would be recalled that former Minister Moragoda held discussions with Minister Fernandes who agreed to visit this country in October last year. Unfortunately commitments at home prevented his visit. But it is of significance to note that the Indian side have extended a special courtesy to our delegation which visited immediately after the new government came into office, by arranging for a meeting of the Minister of Defence for our Defence Secretary and other officials. This indicates a certain positive commitment on the part of India.

Whilst, we have been co-operating more or less on the periphery, it is now the time to broaden and deepen the security relationships for, as stated by Minister Fernandes himself, the security of India and the security of Sri Lanka are one. If an Agreement were concluded it would be the first with a SAARC country and could be the beginning of a new regional security arrangement which would be first step towards holistic regional integration which is the logical extension of the concept the Indian PM referred to at the SAARC summit.

The issue now is the model of the Agreement we should have? A mere `EBStatement of Intent`ED, a routine loose Agreement setting out inter alia the cooperation forms which already exists with what some prefer to call `EBan enabling clause`ED will not suffice to meet the needs or threats facing either country. Considering the nature of the threat we face nothing short of a Defence Pact which would include a long year lease of the Trincomalee Harbour, with co-rights for the Sri Lanka Navy would serve our needs and theirs. India could set up a regional Naval training centre at Trinco too, and last but not least use the Palaly Air Base. Any Agreement would need to cover all three branches of the military, the Army, Navy and the Air Force and also Intelligence but as to whether there is the political will in India to take on a responsibility for the defence of the region and in the process of our unity and territorial integrity would be the issue. This must certainly be more than a `EBCross Services`ED Agreement as some have suggested. An important matter that must be taken into consideration is the expanded sea arm of the LTTE`F3The Sea Tigers and their sea suicide squads and the threat to shipping and the security of the region.

India must take into consideration her role as the Region`EDs Superpower and the responsibility that goes with that status and her ambition to sit at the `EBHigh Table at the UN. India`EDs interest would also be her own security, to ensure that no threat to her unity could emanate through and from the South. The rise of linguistic nationalism and inspired terrorism would be India`EDs main concerns, for they would give a fillip to the already smouldering fissiparous tendencies manifest in a number of insurgencies of varying intensity in India.

Another interesting and important aspect of regional security is the new relationship between India and the United States. They are in the process of developing a close security relationship. The sea lanes to and from the middle east to Japan, Korea and China pass by our waters and any third rogue `EBNavy`ED such as the Sea Tigers, would constitute a huge threat to such shipping and regional security. Yet another aspect which would be of concern to India and the United States is a possibility of the LTTE not only selling its technology but also its arms to insurgent groups in India and beyond.

If an Agreement materializes the implementation of such an Agreement has to be carefully managed. The Agreement must create a permanent `EBJoint Commission`ED, which would supervise and ensure its implementation. Sri Lanka should have the strongest possible Defence Cooperation Agreements with India; it is in our mutual interest.

Muslim hostage killed in LTTE crossfire

At least one Muslim had been killed on Tuesday night at Mulawattuwan in the Batticaloa district when a group of Karuna loyalists attacked a gang of LTTE cadres holding several Muslims, military sources said.

The sources said the LTTE had detained a group of Muslims when they were engaged in collecting firewood. They had been taken to an LTTE hideout in the area. But a few hours’ later Karuna loyalists had attacked the hideout. In the exchange of fire, several Muslims had escaped but unfortunately one who was caught in the crossfire had died of gun shot injuries. (NP)

To seek a solution to ethnic problem - LTTE should give up violence, enter mainstream of politics’

The Commonwealth Parliamentary delegation, which was in Sri Lanka recently headed by Graham Allen, met Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof. W. A. Wiswa Warnapala at the Foreign Ministry Office.

"At this critical juncture of her history, Sri Lanka should give prime importance for the full realisation of the peace process. The whole world now looks upon Sri Lanka as to the next step she is taking for the realisation of permanent peace. The LTTE should give up all forms of violence and should enter the mainstream of politics to seek a solution to the ethnic problem within the borders of Sri Lanka. The Island cannot be divided at any cost. When permanent peace dawns on Sri Lanka, the International Community will come forward to help Sri Lanka in a substantial way," Graham Allen, Leader of the delegation said.

The delegation comprising Graham Allen Eric Forth, Carroll Forth, Austin Mitchell, Linda McDongall and Linda Perham, all senior members of the British House of Commons said They were pleased to have an audience with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prof W. A. Wiswa Warnapala who has made a significant and a remarkable contribution to parliamentary affairs by writing hundreds of articles and a number of text books on parliamentary procedures. Prof. Warnapala made use of this occasion too, to present his latest addition to his collected works — "Parliament and Public Accountability in Sri Lanka" to Graham Allen, Leader of the delegation.

Prof. Warnapala said all these years the Commonwealth of Nations survived well surpassing all obstacles and impediments on its long journey, as the leadership of the Commonwealth had the wisdom and the vision to judge the changing social structure of the world. As the decision making process of the Commonwealth is democratic, it functioned well and on the same foundation it was able to maintain and sustain the unity of its purpose.,

The talks on the Commonwealth centered around the issues of:

(a) Participatory democracy characterised by free and fair elections and representative legislatures,

(b) An independent judiciary;

(c) A well trained public service;

(d) A transparent and accountable public accounts system;

(e) Machinery to protect human rights;

(f) The right to information;

(g) Active participation of civil society, including women and youth;

(h) Substantially increased and more effective financial resources;

(i) Adherence to the internationally agreed targets of 0.7 percent of Gross National Product for development assistance.

(j) Financing and realisation of the Millennium Development Goals; and

(k) Increased democracy at the global level, including enhanced participation and transparency in international institutions.

Prof. Warnapala also presented the recently written booklet on the Sri Lanka Freedom Party to the members of the delegation.

GOSL condemns brutal killing

The continuing campaign of eliminating opponents by killing them is a negation of the values of a democratic society, the government said in a media release on the assassination of ex-TNA MP Kingsley Rasanayagam on Tuesday.

The Government of Sri Lanka will continue to make every effort to maintain law and order and bring those responsible to justice the release said.

Getting Soosai out part of LTTE ploy - Military by Shamindra Ferdinando

The military believes that Karuna loyalist ex-TNA MP Kingsley Rasanayagam was killed and veteran Sea Tiger commander Thillayampalan Sivanesan alias Soosai was sent out of the country on Tuesday as part of the LTTE strategy to neutralise the dissidents.

Rasanayagam who successfully contested the Batticaloa district was asked to step down by the LTTE and his vacancy was filled by a person loyal to the group’s Vanni leadership.

The 65-year-old politician was shot dead near Kalliyankaadu cemetery as he was about to get in his car Tuesday evening less than 24 hours Soosai boarded a SriLankan airlines flight to Singapore. In our lead story yesterday P’karan gets Soosai out with govt. help, we inadvertently said Soosai took a Singapore airlines flight out of Bandaranaike International Airport.

Soosai’s unexpected departure fuelled speculation that he had agreed to an ultimatum to quit his post in return for leaving the country, at least temporarily. "We believe a similar offer was made to Karuna but he rejected that," an authoritative military official said. He pointed out Rasanayagam was assassinated to weaken the dissidents whose campaign had been bolstered by the actions of Karuna and his supporters.

The military believes Rasanayagam was attacked by two LTTE cadres identified as Jegan and Shuti. "One of them fired at Rasanayagam as he was about to leave a worksite situated near the cemetery. He succumbed to his injuries before he was admitted to the Batticaloa government hospital," he said.

Tuesday’s attack was the first major political killing since a wave of LTTE attacks in the run-up to the last parliamentary elections in April.

This is what European Union Election Observation Mission said in its final report: "There is a general perception that three of the five election-related murders were backed by the LTTE in an attempt to intimidate other Tamil contestants. For example on March 30, a TNA candidate who supported Karuna was killed together with his brother in-law in Batticaloa. On the same day, the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Eastern University who supported the interests of the eastern Tamils was seriously wounded in Batticaloa.

According to the EU mission, there were two primary reasons for LTTE attacks, "firstly the LTTE intended that no other rival Tamil party (or Tamil candidate from the mainstream political alliances) to the TNA would be able to claim to represent Tamil interests. A chilling message to this effect was sent early in the campaign when a UNP candidate was assassinated."