Monday, April 03, 2006
I had put the question to Indian Federal Interior Secretary V K Duggal. He said there are no links between Naxalites and the LTTE. The weapons are those mostly snatched from the police. This view is not shared by some experts. One of them, Brigadier Bansi Kumar Ponwar, opines that military hardwares for Naxalites are being provided by LTTE.
"They have these outside alliances. We have got video clippings of the LTTE giving them training in IED methodology. And this is being used extensively all across the border. In fact they have put IED's where ever there are approach roads to their camps," the Brigadier was quoted as saying by TV Channel, CNN-IBN.
Brigadier Bansi Kumar Ponwar is heading a Counter Terrorism and Jungle Warfare School in Chatisgarh state where over 100 civilians were killed in the past three months – the highest death toll in Naxalite violence even as the red terror graph has dropped at the national level.
,br> Unlike in other states, here in Chatisgarh, a voluntary people movement has taken shape to challenge the Naxal's vandalism and hackneyed revolutionary concepts. The participants in the campaign are illiterate tribals who feel their habitat and lives threatened by the arrival of Naxalites, who are mostly unemployed youth from the plains.
The tribal youth who have come together under the banner - Salwa Dalum (peaceful campaign) – are unarmed. This fact alone explains the heavy death toll in the naxal belt, officials said.
,br> A high level Coordination Committee headed by the Interior Secretary V K Duggal has decided to first let the youth campaign to consolidate in areas where security forces are in strength and then only move forward. Simultaneously, it was decided to get training for the local police in mine sweeping and related operations .
The Ponwar School is police commandos because they have to fight "a guerilla like a guerilla in his den. Not sitting in one police station and waiting for him to attack. You will be destroyed if you do that".
State Director General of Police OP Rathore has sought appointment of five thousand tribal youth as special police officers after training to act as some sort of auxiliary force.
The Interior Secretary Duggal said this request has been granted.
A breakaway faction of the LTTE yesterday vowed to shoot dead supporters of the mainstream rebel group unless they return thousands of homes and businesses appropriated from Muslims in the 1990s.
The group led by breakaway former commander Colonel Karuna, who is locked in a deadly feud with the Tigers that threatens to rekindle a two-decade civil war, told Reuters it would also hunt down three top rebels and hand them to Nordic truce monitors.
The LTTE gave tens of thousands of Muslims just two hours to abandon their homes and property in the northern Jaffna peninsula in 1990 in what was seen as ethnic cleansing. Only a few hundred have dared to return since.
“Our military wing will kill anyone illegally occupying the homes and businesses of Muslims who the Tigers forced to flee Jaffna if they don't vacate within a month”, a top Karuna aide said on condition of anonymity after a politburo meeting of his Tamileelam Makkal Viduthalai Puligal (TMVP) movement.
“We will hunt the Tigers responsible for the Muslim exodus. We want them to face charges of crimes against humanity at The Hague,” he added.
The Tigers had no immediate comment on Karuna's threat.
Karuna ran the LTTE’s military operations in the east until he split in 2004 and is now at the centre of a deadlock in efforts to turn a truce into lasting peace.
The Tigers accuse the military of helping Karuna's renegades to attack their fighters and say they may refuse to continue emergency talks with the government to shore up the ceasefire unless the military disarms their former comrades.
Karuna says his men will only disarm if the Tigers do so and vows to retaliate if attacked, and his new threat comes a fortnight before the April 19-21 talks are due to begin in Geneva.He is also preparing the ground to join the political mainstream, and plans to open a political office in the eastern district of Batticaloa on April 10 as a first step.
Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, saw the Karuna group ultimatum as a political ploy to win the backing of Muslims living in their eastern stronghold, and appealed to him to drop it.
“Muslims were driven away from Jaffna. The LTTE gave them two hours to leave”, Mr. Hakeem said. “It amounts to genocide, ethnic cleansing where they have appropriated all of their property.”
“But Muslims wouldn't want anyone to issue ultimatums of this nature”, he added. “I think this is political posturing from Karuna. He wants to win the hearts and minds of Muslims in the east”.
Many of the evicted Muslims, who were among Jaffna's most prosperous businessmen and owned large houses, have been living destitute for years in camps for internally displaced.
Dozens of Muslims were killed by the Tigers in the east during the 1990s, and they long to see the back of rebels who want to carve out a separate homeland for minority Tamils in the north and east.
Full text of the letter follows:
We write to you in your capacity as the Executive President and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of our Motherland.
After having obtained views of the cross section of our community, the All Ceylon Moors’ Association held an emergency meeting presided by Mr. M Mohinudeen Rajabdeen and wish to express our views by this statement.
Our Association which was founded in 1921, by late Sir Razik Fareed, has a cross representation of members from numerous walks of life, in all of the provinces.
University undergraduates, professionals, in the state and private sector, businessmen, as well as the laity of our community are disinclined for the Sri Lanka Army to recruit Muslims youths to protect the Muslim community, living only in the East, since our own identity of Ceylon Moors who are Muslims are well in excess of a Million inhabitants, living interspersed in all of the provinces and regions of Mother Lanka.
We as an intelligent and literate community are aware that no Nation’s Army in the world, defending its territorial integrity, has a particular regiment for a specific community or race. Since time memorial that we have lived in harmony within a multi racial, multi ethnic, and multi religious country, any recruitment in relation to the Defence of our country, should determine to enlist recruits of all communities, based on a National line and not on Ethnic divisions.
In pursuit of peace, our community has many political parties and leaders, presenting a Political Forum. Their thoughts and actions must correspond to consensus co-ordination by a strong, viable and meaningful civil society.
In conclusion, we, appreciate the services that have been rendered by the Armed Forces and the Police personnel which constituted Muslims, then and now, in defending our Nation, and our community, namely, Sri Lankans.
Thanking Your Excellency in anticipation, and remain,MF Mohideen
Hony. Secretary General
ALL CEYLON MOORS’ ASSOCIATION
Headquarters : 473 Bauddhaloka Mawatha, Colombo 8
Mailing Address 571-1/1 Havelock Road Colombo 6
Email firstname.lastname@example.org Office 5626626
LTTE are the "paramilitaries" because they survive on the aid of the Sri Lankan government - Pilliyan, special Commander, TMVP
Amplifying this claim he said: "We were a part and parcel of the LTTE until March 03, 2004. When we broke away we became parallel organizations of the Tamils serving the Tamil people. Only our name, methods and the leadership have changed. In every other respect, we are the LTTE under a different leadership and name. The international community also regarded us as a part of the LTTE when our leader, Col. Karuna participated in the negotiations. Our legitimacy does not depend on being a part of the LTTE.
Our legitimacy depends on the acceptance of TMVP by the Tamils of the east. The international community should have realized by now that it cannot work out a reasonable or viable peace solution without the Muslims and the TMVP.
"The Norwegian facilitators are working under the false assumption that it can work out a formula by working only with the LTTE. As long as they go down this track they are doomed to fail," he said. "If our leader was earlier acceptable to the international community, then he should be acceptable to them even now. Nothing has changed since then and now except that we have broken away from the one-man regime that does not respect democracy, rule of law or the legitimate aspirations of the Tamils to be free from the tyranny of the Vanni. The vast majority of the Tamils reject the idea of equating the LTTE with the Tamils. Though they claim to be "the sole representative of the Tamils" common sense would dictate that no single party can claim to be the sole representative of a community in a democracy.
"The time has come for the Norwegian facilitators and the international community to face the new realities and reject the political definitions of the LTTE which claim that they are "the sole representatives of the Tamils" and that we are the "paramilitaries". The LTTE defines anyone opposed to them as "paramilitaries".
We are branded as "paramilitaries" without receiving aid from the Sri Lankan government. But it is they who should be classified as "paramilitaries" because they not only received arms from the Sri Lankan government at one time (to fight the Indians) but continue to be supported by the Sri Lankan government. The LTTE survives today on the hand-outs of financial, administrative and all other facilities provided to the LTTE by the Sri Lankan government to run their one-man regime. They can't even travel from one point of Vanni to another point of their regime without support from the Sri Lanka Air force or military escorting them. We don't get any of those facilities from the Sri Lankan government. So who are the "paramilitaries"? Who is it who gets aid from the Sri Lankan government to undermine the Ceasefire Agreement signed with the advice and consent of Norway and the international community?" asked Pilliyan.
"We hope that the new Norwegian facilitator, Jon Hanssen-Bauer will reject the old definitions and work on the new realities. If the facilitators cannot recognize who the real "paramilitaries" are then they will fail to advance the peace process," said Pilliyan. "Nobody needs to have any problem over us. When we were together we worked towards durable solution to the problems the Tamils are confronted with. Even now our main goal is to liberate the Tamils and work for an autonomous rule for the Tamils in Sri Lanka. We want a solution with honor and dignity and we are not after any petty concession, he said.
"We haven’t change, but it is the Vanni Tigers who have changed and wanted to safeguard one individual. We do not believe in individualism. We believe in people and in democracy and in pluralism.
" Our problem with the LTTE is ‘an internal problem’ as once told by the Vanni leaders. We are at present in the process of settling the internal differences with the Vanni leaders in the language they understand. Therefore international community need not bother about this.
"On April 10, 2004, when Vanni Tigers entered Verugal in the East with the help of the Sri Lankan Army and Navy, we did not confront them because; we do not want to enter into a fratricidal war with them. This has been clearly explained numerous times by our leader Colonel Karuna Amman.
"After making a tactical withdrawal from the Batticaloa – Amparai districts we were bent on organizing a political party and prepared to enter into the democratic political mainstream.
"Unfortunately Vanni leadership mistook our withdrawal from the East as a sign of weakness. They have failed comprehend one factor that when we withdrew we sent back about 4,000 of our cadres to their homes. Those cadres whom we sent back will at any time would come back and join us, if we wanted them. This was an important factor that they have failed to come to terms with.
"When Vanni Tigers started hounding our cadres, does the international community, or Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, or Anton Balasingham or the Sri Lanka Government wanted us to place our heads in the guillotine chambers for the Vanni Tigers slice it.
"Sorry we are not Jesus Christ to show the other side of the face when our enemies slap us at one side of the face. Unfortunately we are only sheer mortals. Not Jesus Christ or Mahatma Gandhi to uphold pacifism.
" I joined the LTTE when I was young as 14 years old. We have been brought up on the doctrine of 'an eye for an eye.' When Vanni Tigers started hounding and killing our unarmed cadres, we were forced to change our strategy. Today we are forced to defend ourselves against the killing machine of the Vanni Tigers. Today we have made them understand the pain of loosing people through killing. Today we have made them understand the horror of being hounded. Today we have made the Vanni group to understand that they are fallible and they can be defeated and chased out of the East. We will stand up for our rights and no agreements signed in Geneva or Vanni can stop us.
" It is very clear that if not for us Vanni Tigers would not have gone to Geneva for talks with the Sri Lanka Government. Kindly understand today it is Colonel Karuna Amman and Tamil EelaMakkal Viduthalai Pulikal that has emerged an equal player in the political agenda of this country and the Vanni Tigers are no longer "the sole representatives of the Tamil people. We know how to deal with their empty threats.
" Now Anton Balasingham is demanding protection for their cadres to leave from Colombo to Geneva and back. This request clearly indicates that they have lost confidence in themselves. This shows that the cadres they have now with them are potbellied ageing commanders and the mercenaries. There is no one willing to fight spiritedly to safeguard the honor and integrity of the Tamils. They are all gone with Colonel Karuna. Despite their propaganda to tarnish the image of Colonel Karuna and TVMP, we are growing and we will be a factor to consider soon once we chase the Vanni Tigers from the Batticalao – Amparai districts soon and from the East subsequently ," said Pilliyan.
In a two-page letter addressed to the Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission's outgoing chief Hagrup Haukland said the monitors encountered 10-15 armed men in civilian clothes operating in Valachchenai, who told SLMM that they belong to the Karuna faction.
Haukland also referred to several "sighting of armed civilians claiming to represent Karuna is often reported to SLMM."
Asserting that the monitors have strong suspicions about armed groups also veering toward Vavuniya, the letter added the SLMM was aware of 11 civilians being killed in government-controlled areas in the east and six in Vavuniya since Feb. 23rd , the day on which talks in Geneva concluded.
Haukland's letter was sent in response to the Defense Secretary's strongly worded note about the contents of a SLMM statement issued last week, after suspected Tigers sank a navy fast attack craft in Kalpitiya, killing eight sailors. The navy said the LTTE suicide boat was carrying "war-like weapons and ammunition."
In a single-page letter, Rajapakse accused the SLMM of "misleading," and making "defamatory," inferences in their statement. He was specifically referring to paragraph 5 of the SLMM statement which said;
"The Sri Lankan Army has recently dismissed claims that armed groups are operating in Government controlled areas. However, based on SLMM's monitoring activities and experience on the ground the Mission does not share the this view and we would like to urge the Government of Sri Lanka to take this matter seriously and not close their eyes to armed elements that are to our knowledge still operating in Government controlled areas."
The defense secretary charged the conclusion SLMM had arrived at was "without any conclusive evidence." He subsequently asked for a meeting with Haukland to discuss the issue.
Haukland responded in a letter the following day, March 30th (Thursday), a day before he concluded his post as head of mission.
Defense secretary Mr. Rajapakse is part of the President's entourage now on a state visit t Pakistan.
At the end of the Feb. 22-23 Geneva talks, both the government and the Tigers vowed to end a spate of violence.
Although the rebels had earlier described the March 2003 Karuna rebellion as an internal matter of the Tigers and asked the government to stay out of the issue, that stand changed.
The February talks were dominated by demands by the Tigers to disarm paramilitaries, specifically the Karuna group.
The guerrillas produced a dossier of what they called "evidence," of government forces support toward the Karuna group. The military denies any linkage.
Despite the SLMM assertions that the Karuna group continues to operate from within government-controlled areas, it admits it has no evidence of military support for the group.
The Tigers' chief negotiator Anton Balasingham said on Wednesday, the next round of talks will also be dominated by the same issue if the government fails to dismantle armed groups.