Saturday, August 04, 2007

Kulasiri Udugampola - A traitor of the nation and the state

"A total betrayal and absolute treachery to the nation"
Military secret sacrificed on the altar of politics

Sources: The Island / CDN / Sunday Times

Raid of the Army Safe House

on January 02, 2002, a police team led by a pro-UNP police officer named Kulasiri Udugampola raided a Army safe house at No. 844, Kaduwela road, Athurugiriya without a court order to search the place. The safe house was used by Army intelligence personnel (Directorate of Military Intelligence) for covert action to infiltrate LTTE cadres and eliminate some of the LTTE leadership.

Udugampola seized a booty of military hardware - Light anti tank weapons, anti tank mines, land mines, assault rifles, claymore mines, thermo baric weapons and green stripe uniforms. He arrested a Captain and four regular soldiers of the Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI). Also arrested was a former Tiger guerrilla cadre who surrendered and was helping the Army.

The goods and the men were brought to Cinnamon Gardens Police Station.
Whilst the men were detained in a room, the media were allowed to view and photograph all the military items displayed inside the Police Station. Thereafter the Army men and their helper were driven in a vehicle to Kandy guarded by two armed policemen. In the wee hours of the morning, they were thrust into remand cells where common criminals were kept. Detention Orders to hold them in custody were issued under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA).

Inviting electronic and other media Udugampola showed the whole country the weapons of the army unit and published the names of the military operatives and informants attached to the unit. Further he wrongly alleged it was part of a conspiracy to kill the newly elected Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe. It was made out that premises No 844 at the Millennium City was a secret hide out from where military men had planned to carry out assassinations on United National Front (UNF) Government leaders. The Police raid had busted their plans, or so it seemed.

The Safe House fiasco was a colossal blunder. In fact, the arrested men, far from being suspected terrorists, were those hunting them down during top secret operations.

The Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team

The Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) team, housed at the Kohuwala Army Camp and was relocated to Athurugiriya in December 2001. When the safe House was raided the LRRP team led by Captain Nilam had conducted a number of Deep Penetration operations in the North and had accounted for nine LTTE high rankers including Mano and Ganesh. They have also killed another 10 regional level leaders.

Just before the raid, the LRRP team's most accomplished task was the assassination of Thambirasa Kuhashanthan alias Nizam, guerrilla Military Intelligence leader for Batticaloa. It was Nizam who had been directing all suicide and other attacks in the City at that time. One of his prize targets then was former Cabinet Minister, C.V. Gooneratne.

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry

A Presidential Commission of Inquiry to inquire into the disclosure of the existence of and the raid on the safe house operated by the Sri Lanka Army found that "the action taken by ASP Udugampola in the manner he did in taking into custody several Army personnel was illegal, immoral and in violation of all the rules and regulations of the police".

The Commission to probe into the incident was appointed in August 16, 2002 by President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga. The Commission sat from August 2002 to November 2003 and heard 69 witnesses. The report was released to the media by the President's Office in December 2003.

The one member Commission chaired by retired Supreme Court judge D. Jayawickreme in his report had said that the ASP had rejected the statement of the Army Commander about the safe house functioning under his approval and had proceeded on a non-existent Court Order.

It further says every one including the Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and the Minister of Interior, the Inspector General of Police and the Senior Police Officers seem to have been impotent or have purposely avoided preventing Udugampola proceeding further in respect of this raid. Therefore, the Commission concludes that to this extent "the Government, the Prime Minister and the Ministers concerned, the then Inspector General of Police Lucky Kodituwakku, his successor T.E. Anandarajah and all other senior Police officers responsible for the illegal act of ASP Udugampola."

"The evidence before this Commission further discloses the fact that Lt. Col. Padmasiri Udugampola, SLCMP, brother of ASP Kulasiri Udugampola, Major General Ivan Dissanayake and Colonel K.H.N. S.S. Dharmaratna, Major A.C.A. de Soysa, SLCMP, Major A.S.P. Podiralahamy, SLCMP, Major K.U. Jayanetti, SLCMP, Major B.M.A.N.S.K. Karunaratne, MIC, Corp, J.H.A.P de Silva, JHAT-MIC, Corp. M.P.A. Pieris, JHAT-MIC, were all aware of the impending raid and have directly and indirectly assisted ASP Kulasiri Udugampola in raiding the Safe House.

"If these officers had any doubts about the Safe House they should have brought it to the notice of the Army Commander and moved the Military Police to investigate. But these officers, without doing so, have conspired with Kulasiri Udugampola to raid this Safe House for their own personal benefits. Moreover, none of these officers have informed Army Commander (Lt. Gen. Lionel Balagalle) or the Director, DMI (Brigadier Kapila Hendavithana) about the raid before the raid."

The Commission also notes that the presence of Retired Deputy Inspector of Defence Lal Ratnayake, Private Secretary to Interior Minister John Amaratunga at the Military Police on the night of the raid on the instructions of the Minister of Interior and the Minister of Interior contacting the Secretary to the Ministry of Mass Communications and the Secretary to the Defence Ministry and ASP Udugampola contacting the Minister of Interior on the telephone leads to the conclusion that due to political patronage ASP Udugampola has behaved as if he was above the law and that he can act the way he wanted to.

The arbitrary action of the police has jeopardized the security of the estate and the Military strategy of the Armed Forces and exposed the personnel engaged in the duties entrusted to them by the Army, concludes the Commission.

"Since this raid 23 operatives and informants have been killed and some have been seriously injures," observed the Commission.

The Solicitor General on behalf of the Attorney General had directed the IGP to take disciplinary action against him. The Commission has also made several recommendations to prevent interference by officials or authorities in the military strategies of the Armed Forces.

Foremost among the Commissions recommendations is a call to depoliticalise the Police and the Army and placing them in the hands of capable men. The Presidential Commission Report also said that the arbitrary action of the police had jeopardized the security of the State and neutralised the Military strategy.

Statement of Elle Gunawansa Thera

In a strongly worded statement to the press the Venerable Elle Gunawansa Thera said, the betrayal of the country’s national army by the Ranil Wickremesinghe government was one of the biggest betrayals of the nation’s history. He said those responsible including Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should be brought to justice according to the country’s laws. He said the former Minister John Ameratunga and both Udugampola brothers who were at the bottom of it and all other police and army officers connected to it should be punished irrespective of the positions they held.

The Supreme Court Judgement

On 30th of January 2004, The Supreme Court declared the fundamental rights of five officers of the Sri Lanka Army, who were arrested and detained by Superintendent of Police, Kandy K. Udugampola and four of his subordinates, had been violated when the police raided the Army Safe House at Athurugiriya, on January 2, 2002.

The petitioners were S. H. M. Nilam, P. Ananda Udalagama, H. M. Nissanka Herath, I. Edirisinghe Jayamanne and H. Mohamed Hilmy.

The judgement said they had been subjected to inhuman, arbitrary treatment, illegal arrest and illegal detention by Udugampola and his subordinates. The state was directed to pay each petitioner a sum of rupees seven hundred and fifty thousand (Rs. 750,000) as compensation and costs. The first respondent Udugampola, to pay each petitioner, personally a sum of Rs. 50,000/- as compensation. Each petitioner would be entitled to a sum of rupees eight hundred thousand (Rs. 80,000) as compensation and costs. The amount was to be paid within three months.

Udugampola’s subordinates were R. A. P. Dharmaratne, Sub-Inspector of Police, Kandy, M. A. E. Mahendra, Head Quarters Inspector Kandy, Ashoka Ratnaweera, S. S. P. Kandy, M. M. M. B. J. Mohottigedera, OIC Katugastota.

The judgement said that the counsel for the petitioners had submitted that as a result of the conduct of Udugampola, and his subordinates, several patriotic intelligence operators had already been murdered. The covert operation that was being conducted by the petitioners, was exposed, and their lives and those of their families were exposed to the greatest of risk. It was therefore submitted that the petitioners, are entitled to very substantial compensation. The predicament of the petitioners, and the deaths of so many intelligence operators, resulting in irreparable damage to national security, was due to the conduct of Udugampola, and he should be personally responsible for what had taken place, counsel for the petitioners had submitted.

The judgement was delivered by Justice Dr. Shirani Bandaranayake, with the Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva and Justice P. Edussuriya agreeing.

Justice Edussuriya had said, the manner in which Udugampola had acted, without paying any heed to Brigadier Hendawitharna, the Director of Military Inte-lligence and Major Sally, without taking the trouble to ascertain the truth of what they said from their superior, exposing the petitioners to the press and, his subsequent conduct, with utter disregard to the rights of the petitioners, it was apparent that he acted so with some ulterior motive whilst being engaged in this despicable exercise, and his conduct must be condemned in the strongest possible manner.

To put it mildly, it was deplorable Justice P. Edussuriya further said that, in the alternative that is, if he did not act with any ulterior motive then, he has acted like an over enthusiastic blundering schoolboy, and has thereby displayed his incompetence.

The registrar of the court was directed to send a copy of the judgement to the IGP.

Kulasiri Udugampola on compulsory leave

The Police Commission headed by President's Counsel Ranjit Abeysuriya on 10th February 2004 approved the request made by IGP Indra de Silva to send ASP Kulasiri Udugampola on compulsory leave until the completion of the ongoing investigation into the Athurugiriya Millennium City Army safe house raid.

The IGP empahised that if ASP Udugampola was found guilty, he would be charged under the normal law of the land, he would be interdicted and action would be taken according to the law.

The IGP earlier declared that the Army and police personnel found guilty by the Presidential Commission in the Athurugiriya millennium city Army safe house raid would be prosecuted. The IGP said he would be consulting the Attorney General before instituting legal proceedings against the offenders. He said a special police team headed by a Senior Police Officer, had been assigned to commence investigations based on the report released by the Presidential Secretariat.

Arrest of Kulasiri Udugampola

On 23rd of March 2005 Kulasiri Udugampola was arrested by a special police investigation team in Kandy.

Udugampola was on compulsory leave. The Attorney General will indict Udugampola on 20 counts including instituting false charges against former Army Commander Lt. General Lionel Balagalle and several Army officers and wrongful confinement of Army personnel in police custody.

He was taken into custody on the IGP's orders on investigations of Senior SP Asoka Wijetilake who probed the Police raid on the Army safe house at Athurugiriya on January 2, 2002.

The special investigation team commenced investigations eight months ago. They were concluded in December 2004. The Attorney General will file indictment in the High Court of Kandy charging Udugampola for offenses under Section 26(1) of the Official Secrets Act and instituting false charges against Army personnel.

Following his arrest, Udugampola was produced before Kandy Magistrate Harsh Setunga and released on surety bail in a sum of Rs 500,000. He was directed to surrender his passport and ordered not to leave the country without Court permission.

He was also directed to appear before the OIC Kandy Police every Sunday and to appear before the High Court of Kandy on March 29.

The prosecution had listed 70 prosecution witness including the IGP, Army and police officials both in service and those retired.

Killing of operatives and informants of the LRRP unit by LTTE

Subsequent to the exposure of the safe house in Athurugiriya, a special unit was created by the LTTE to hunt down and kill Army informants. Allegations were made that, exposing the activities carried out from the safe house, have exposed covert intelligence operations and operators enabling the LTTE to identify the informants.

Several informants were killed in Batticaloa, Trincomalee and even at Dehiwala, Pepiliyana and Mount Lavinia.

There was one man who was mainly responsible for all LRRP team actions in Batticaloa and Amparai districts. His name was a closely guarded secret. Only the head of the LRRP team, Captain S.H. Mohamed Nilam dealt with him. He knew the man only as Mike. It was Mike who in turn liaised with a network of operatives as well as informants, including one time guerrilla cadres, in the Batticaloa and Amparai districts.

On January 16, 2002 guerrilla intelligence cadres launched a secret operation in the Batticaloa town. They abducted V. Vidyarathan. He was taken to a hideout in the guerrilla dominated Kokkadicholai area. He was subjected to torture and intense interrogation for four days. The man cracked under heavy pressure and pain. He confessed he was Mike and had been helping Captain Nilam and his LRRP team. He was shot dead on January 20.

It saw the beginning of a campaign of arrest, interrogate and kill. On February 10, Lance Corporal "Clarry" was abducted in a secret operation in Chenkalady in Batticaloa. Soon, details of how agent Mike worked with Captain Nilam began to unfold. LTTE Intelligence cadres and pistol gangs fanned out from Batticaloa to mount surveillance on the names of the operatives and informants that had emerged. Similar exercises were also carried out in Batticaloa and Amparai districts.

By July, 2002, Tiger guerrillas had obtained a fuller picture of the LRRP operations and how they were conducted with the help of Mike. On July 3, 2002 guerrilla cadres abducted Lance Corporal Saundrarajan, a key operative who had taken part in an abortive attack on "Jim Kelly," an LTTE cadre. He had also taken part in the attack on guerrilla area leader Babu on September 17, 2001 and the abortive attempt on Karikalan. He had also later taken part in the ambush and attack on two other guerrillas, Swarnaseelan and Devadas on November 26, 2001.

By December, 2002, LTTE intelligence cadres had tracked down some of those assisting the LRRP and were moved from the East to Colombo. On December 11, 2002, the first informant, Ganesha Moorthy alias Thilakaraj was shot dead by a pistol group. This was followed by the murder on January 3, 2003, of Lance Corporal Pulendrarasa. He was an operative who had worked closely with Mike. Another close associate of Mike, Kadirgamathamby Ragupathi alias Ragu was shot dead on March 18, 2003.

Neither the Security Forces nor the Police were able to launch any cordon and search operations to track down the Tiger guerrilla intelligence operatives or the pistol gangs. They had not only infiltrated the City but were operating with impunity. The UNF Government did not to want to order any crackdown on their activity for fear that the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE would be affected.

The LTTE continued their witch hunt. On April 2, 2003, Sinnathambi Ranjan alias Varadan, who worked closely with Mike was shot dead. On April 26 of the same year, Lance Corporal Devarasa, an operative who took part in LRRP operations and worked closely with Mike was shot dead. He had left a military camp where he was living for reasons of security to visit his family in Dehiwala when the incident occurred.

A guerrilla pistol gang, who had conducted surveillance and kept following Lance Corporal Paramanthan Ravindrakumar trapped him at a City intersection. They poured six bullets into his body on July 15, 2003, wounding him seriously. He survived after surgery and was moved to a safe location thereafter.

The LRRP men who paid the ultimate price

The Sunday Times ( February 01, 2004 ) reveald details of intelligence operatives and civilian informants who were closely associated with LRRP operatives by the Directorate of Military Intelligence. They were all tracked down and assassinated by Tiger guerrillas after the existence of the Safe House became public.

January 20, 2002
V. Vidyarnthan alias Vidya alias Nidhi -
Informant - Abducted on January 16, 2002 and killed on January 20, 2002.

February 09, 2002
Clary alias Gadaffi
Ex- guerrilla cadre - abducted from Chenkallady town and killed.

July 22, 2002
Saundarajah A alias Arinjan
Ex-guerrilla cadre - abducted from Batticaloa town on July 3 and killed at Vakarai.

December 11, 2002
Ganeshmoorthy alias Thilakarajah Samithambi
Informant - killed by LTTE gun-men in Colombo.

January 03, 2003
Pulendrarasa alias Cashier
Ex-guerrilla cadre - abducted in Kallady and killed.

March 18, 2003
Kadiragamthambi Ragupathi alias Ragu
Informant - killed by the LTTE gun-men in Colombo.

April 13, 2003
Sinnathambi Rajan alias Varadan
Informant - to be enlisted to the Army shot dead by the LTTE pistol group in Colombo.

April 26, 2003
Devarajha L. alias Ashok
Ex- LTTE cadre - killed in Colombo.

May 21, 2003
Kumar Perumal Perimban alias Master
Ex-PLOTE cadre - killed in Batticaloa town.
Besides the above, among intelligence operatives, soldiers, para military troops who were not connected to LRRP operations but were killed after the Safe House activities came to be known were:

August 14, 2002
Kanapathipillai Devadas
Tamil soldier - abducted and killed.

December 02, 2002
Aseesh SM
Soldier - abducted and killed.

April 23, 2003
Sidambarapilai Yashodaran
Tamil soldier - abducted and killed.

May 19, 2003
Sooriyan K
Tamil soldier - killed in Batticaloa.

August 03, 2003
LT Rilvan
Police Sergeant - abducted and killed in Trincomalee.

August 08, 2003
Vivekanada Sammugarasa SP
Tamil soldier - abducted and killed.

September 14, 2003
Saundanayagam Sabarathnam
Tamil soldier - killed in Palameenmadu.
Among civilian informants (not connected with LRRP operations) but killed after activities of the Safe House came to be known were:

March 11, 2002
Pulendrarajha - abducted and killed in Muttur.

July 06, 2002
Thangarajha Premadasa alias Varuman - killed with his mistress in Welikanda.

March 20, 2003
Nagoorkanee Ashish - abducted and killed.

April 13, 2003
Subramaniyam Jayadewan - killed in Batticaloa.

April 23, 2003
Sellaiya Puvendrarasa - killed in Thunnalai.

May 16, 2003
Ariyanandan Hemachandran - Killed in Jaffna.

July 17, 2003
Abdul Bahir Fauzi - Killed in Uppuveli.

August 30, 2003
Sebamalai Vimalkumaran - killed in Vavuniya.
Erambamurthi Sabanayagam - Abducted in Matale and killed in Batticaloa.

Kandiah Yogarasa better known as PLOTE Mohan joined the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) in 1983, left the group in 1994. He emerged as a key anti-LTTE operative and was closely linked to the military's Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRPs).

PLOTE Mohan was shot dead by LTTE in the heart of Colombo city on 31st of July 2004. Mohan (41) was gunned down with a 9 mm pistol around 11.20 a.m. local time on the normally busy Duplication Road, in the heart of the city.

Fear in Sri Lanka's Muslim communities

Sri Lankan troops kill senior Tamil rebel leader in volatile north, says military

Sri Lankan soldiers shot dead a senior Tamil Tiger leader when troops pre-empted a rebel attack on a northern defense line, the military said Saturday.

Insurgents were preparing to attack the defense line at Nagarkovil in Jaffna peninsula on Friday but were confronted by troops, triggering a fierce gunbattle, an official at the Defense Ministry information center said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

He said soldiers confirmed that a senior rebel leader was killed in the fighting. The military did not give the name of the rebel leader.

There was no immediate comment from the Tamil rebels who have fought since 1983 for an independent homeland for the country's ethnic minority Tamils.

Tamils, who have suffered decades of discrimination by majority Sinhalese-controlled governments, consider Jaffna their cultural heartland. The military has controlled the region since 1995, but the rebels operate underground and carry out frequent assassinations and bomb attacks there.

Last month, the government celebrated the recapture of the east from the rebels. The Tamil rebels still control a virtual state in the north.

A Norway-brokered cease-fire in 2002 brought relative calm to the country, but a new wave of violence that began in December 2005 has killed more than 5,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. Over 70,000 people have been killed in the two decades of violence.


Heart of the North beating steadily

A BRIGHT FUTURE AHEAD: Arid and hot, Jaffna is nevertheless one of the most scenic areas in the country. Battle-scarred and war weary, Jaffna is slowly but surely regaining its former glory. Just 12 years after the Government liberated the area from the LTTE, it is firmly on the road to development.

The people in the Jaffna peninsula are now experiencing the freedom of peace. The Security Forces have done a yeoman service to Jaffna residents. Even today the Security Forces fulfil all the day-to-day requirements of Jaffna people, building up a good rapport despite a language barrier.

Whenever the people in the peninsula want any kind of assistance, Forces personnel are ready to help. Therefore everyone in the peninsula has to thank the Forces for their valuable service and dedication, retired teacher S. Thiyagaraja told the Daily News during a media tour of the peninsula.

Until we reached Jaffna we didn't have a firm idea about the situation in the Jaffna peninsula. As soon as our plane touched down at Palali, enthusiastic and friendly officers of Sri Lanka Army greeted us.

We talked to several individuals who were waiting at Palali to come to Colombo by air. "I have gone to Colombo a few times by road before the A9 road was closed and also by sea. But it was rather hard and dull since it took much time. When it comes to travel by air, it is easy and comfortable," said J. Balaraj.

We spoke to security officers engaged in the facilitating civilian movements in Palali. Three private operators offer flights between Palali and Ratmalana. There is no waiting list and a return ticket costs Rs. 9000. We met Jaffna Commander Major General G.A. Chandrasiri for a briefing on the security situation. "There is no room for the LTTE to disrupt the day-to-day life of the civilian population in Jaffna," he said. The Jaffna peninsula is under Security Forces control. "The forces control the peninsula from Nagarkovil to Kilali," he pointed out.

"We will never allow the LTTE to raise their head again and we don't let them enter the cleared areas. We have ensured security by conducting search operations," said the Jaffna Commander.

We realised that the Army has forged an excellent rapport with the people of Jaffna which has helped in the creation of a conductive environment for the smooth functioning of normal life. The Army has acted with responsibility and the civilians are appreciative of the Army's service in almost all spheres of activity. Fishing activities have been restored upto a certain extent in the Jaffna peninsula. Fishermen are allowed to go to sea from 8 a.m to 5 p.m.

"But it is impossible to allow them to fish at night as the LTTE would take advantage of this to create problems by posing as fishermen," the Major General said. We visited Gurunagar Jetty which is the main Jetty in Jaffna Peninsula to see fishing activities.

"Apart from the Gurunagar Jetty there are two other famous Jetties called CeyNor and Pasoor. Here at Gurunagar about 450 fishermen go to sea daily in more than 80 boats.

It is our duty to obey the rules imposed by the Security Forces since those are enforced for our own safety," said Rajendran, a boatman.

"The Security Forces buy our fish and we get a considerable of income," he said. We then visited Union college, Tellippalai a leading Tamil college in the Jaffna peninsula.

Educational activities were going on smoothly. All the students had received free books and uniforms which are distributed by the Government. Moreover the Security Forces have built a good atmosphere which is helpful for educational activities. Most of the schools and the Jaffna university are functioning well, Jaffna Government Agent K. Ganesh said.

The Naguleshwaram Kovil is a popular and highly venerated Kovil inside the High Security Zone. When we went there, many youth were engaged in a special Pooja at the Kovil.

"We are from the Jaffna Teacher Training College. There are around 300 students studying in the Training College. It has been started in 1947 at an auspicious time. From the very beginning every year we celebrate that occasion by participating in Poojas at this Naguleshwaram Kovil," a second year student at the Jaffna Teacher Training College said.

The government has taken steps to rebuild the Naguleswaran Kovil. The construction process is being carried out by a contractor under the supervision of Sri Lankan Navy. The Government has already spent Rs. 30 million for the construction and steps have been taken to complete the construction in due course.

The people in the Jaffna peninsula are lucky enough to have a sophisticated Cancer Hospital on par with the Maharagama Cancer Hospital. The Jaffna cancer hospital was established in 2005 aiming to reduce the burden on cancer patients and their families.

"No cancer patient has to be taken to Maharagama or Anuradhapura since this hospital has all the facilities. The hospital can treat 40 patients per day," said radiologist S. Ramalingam. Before establishing cancer hospital the cancer patients had been taken to Maharagama or Anuradhapura for treatments.

We then turned our attention to agriculture. Urumpilai, Punnalei-Kattuwan, Illawalei are the main areas where grapes are cultivated. K. Ramanathan has been cultivating grapes in Urumpilai for 30 years.

"We had a good market for our harvest when the visitors from the South came to Jaffna. Our produce could be sent to Colombo those days. But, unfortunately due to the LTTE terrorist activities no visitors come to Jaffna now. A kilogramme of grapes is sold at Rs. 80 while the whole sale price is Rs. 60."

Apart from grapes, onion, tobacco, beet and carrot cultivations are commonly seen. "We face a difficulty as the price of fertiliser is high. A 50 Kilogram packet of Urea costs Rs. 3150. Therefore it is rather difficult to use chemical fertiliser for our plantations. That is the very reason for the reduction of our harvest," Ramanathan added.

In fact almost all farmers have faced this common problem. They urged the Government to control the price of fertiliser. According to farmers, middlemen is one of the main reasons for the high price. On some occasions, Government officers have sold fertiliser to middlemen through the back-door.

This allows middlemen to create a 'shortage' of fertiliser at Government stores and sell fertiliser at higher prices. The Government has to take steps to bring down the price of fertiliser and take immediate action to break the monopoly, the farmers say.

"Some Tamil politicians who stand for safeguarding the rights of the poor Tamils, are engaged in transporting commodities and fertiliser to Jaffna. Poor Tamil people are exploited by these politicians," said a middle-aged man who declined to be identified. Jaffna Government Agent Ganesh said there is a steady supply of essential items to the Jaffna peninsula. Goods are being sold at affordable prices, the GA said.

According to the Government Agent, a majority of items fetch the same price as in Colombo. Goods are sold at 547 sales outlets in the peninsula including 24 co-operative outlets. There are seven ships transporting goods to Jaffna. Four belong to the Essential Services Commissioner while the others are operated by private traders, Ganesh said adding that the loading and unloading process was continuing smoothly.

We had a rare chance to visit the `Dambakola Patuna' Buddhist temple where Sangamitta Therani brought the sapling of the `Sri Maha Bodhi'. The sapling has been handed over to the King Devanam Piyathissa at Dambakola Patuna by Sangamitta Therani at this sacred place.

When we visited Kankasanthurei harbour, the ship `Green Ocean' was at out harbour waiting to enter the harbour with a large number of passengers from Trincomalee. The ship has been carrying passengers between Trincomalee and KKS.

The ordinary passengers who intend to go to Colombo or other parts of the island use the ship since it is cheaper than air travel. Every other day the ship leaves for Trincomalee from KKS. "An adult passenger has to spend Rs. 2,750 for a ticket while a child under five years does not need a ticket," the Civil Movement Coordinator K. Kandasamy said.

When we visited the Jaffna library we were fascinated that it was back to its old glory. The Government spent Rs. 120 million for the reconstruction.

"This is not mere a library, it is also a cultural centre," said the librarian. "The library has been fully constructed and received thousands of books. We know that the people in the South have contributed in the construction process," he further added.

According to the librarian, there are 100,000 books available now. Unlike the former library, the new libraryhas a computer laboratory which has internet facility. The library has exceeded 7,000 members and is maintained by 40 staffers.

Medical Camps are conducted once a month in every Brigade by the Security Forces aiming to help the patients in the peninsula. The patients are examined by qualified Army doctors and all medicines given free of charge.

"The Army doctors do door-to-door medical testing once a month. If not for this medical campaign, we have to go to Kaithadi hospital which is located 10 Kilometres away from here spending money and time.

We are grateful to the Forces for these services," N.Kandasamy, a patient who had come for free treatment at the Chenmani Medical Camp said.


Rough ride and life to freedom

Languishing in camps at Rameshwaram,Sri Lankan refugees yearn to return home

Thousands of Sri Lankan refugees who fled their homes due to the continuing violence that has gripped the north-east of the country since last year and settled in the small coastal town of Rameshwaram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India, are struggling for survival while many are still hopeful of getting back to their homes.

Last year many of these displaced people had to pay Rs. 6,000 to 8,000 to mercenary boatmen for the two hour ride across the Palk Strait. The refugees who reached the Rameshwaram coast with sparse baggage - a few pieces of clothing and other essentials, but a heart full of dreams for a better life, are now facing tough times in over-crowded refugee camps. The irregular distribution of food, shortage of drinking water, lack of sanitation facilities and medicine, problem of women being forcibly taken in for prostitution and random arrests of refugees who are suspected of being terrorists, are some of their day-to day horrors.

The sudden influx of refugees, mainly from Mannar, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Muttur since last year has reached nearly 140,000. They are housed in 120 refugee camps in Rameshwaram out of whom about 30,000 refugees are unaccounted for, The Sunday Times learns.

Although the Tamil Nadu government has promised to provide the refugees with essential food items and Rs. 15 a child and Rs. 25 an adult for a day, many families complain that they have not got the promised money on a regular basis. They also complain that they are not allowed to leave the heavily-guarded camps to find jobs.

“We left our homes in Trincomalee and came to India by boat hoping for a better life. But things seem to be much harder here and we are not even allowed to leave the camps in search of work. We don’t get proper food or medicine either,” Mani Krishna a farmer from Trincomalee said.

Another refugee Luxmi said, “Many women in my village in Kayts were locked up in a house and raped, I escaped with my children. But while we were in the camp here, some people came and took my eldest daughter away. I complained to the police but there has been no news,” Luxmi who is a mother of two grown up daughters said.

When The Sunday Times visited a camp which housed about 2000 refugees under one shelter made up of scrap metal, wood and coconut leaves, the refugees had many a tale of woe to relate.

We learnt that last month alone 28 people had died of cholera and pneumonia while hundreds were suffering from various viral infections. Thirty two women had reportedly gone missing from the camp and in the past two weeks eight had been arrested from the same camp.

Shankar, a father of three teenage girls said, from the time he came to Rameswaram, life has been difficult for him since he has not been able to find a job too. However, life turned into a nightmare when an armed group from Rameshwaram had stormed the small shed which he calls home and had forcibly taken his three daughters away.

“I left my home in Batticaloa to escape the fighting and violence that has gripped my village. I came to India hoping for a better future for my children. Now they have been taken away,” Shankar lamented.

Inspector Shanka Chopra from Rameshwaram told The Sunday Times that they have received several complaints from these refugees and the police were doing their best to crackdown on the spate of abductions of women.

“Some of these women are taken away by an organised crime group that is running a prostitution ring in Rameshwaram. We are doing our best to find the culprits but our main focus is to apprehend LTTE cadres who enter India in the guise of refugees,” he said.

A health official overseeing the camps in Rameshwaram, confirmed that nearly 60 people had reportedly been infected by HIV/AIDS. She said four refugees from different camps had died from the disease.

When refugees land on the coast of Rameshwaram, Indian police officers interrogate them on the shore itself.

Then they are sent to a sprawling camp in Mandapam, the same place that served as a transit point for Tamil labourers sent to Sri Lankan tea estates during British rule.

Currently, the Mandapam camp houses over 6500 refugees in a fenced-off section of dilapidated one-storey cement apartment blocks with communal water taps and toilets. The refugees are kept here reportedly for observation for one-to-two weeks until they are relocated somewhere else in Tamil Nadu. However, many refugees are kept here for months with little being done and over crowding of the camp has become a severe problem.

The refugees in Rameshwaram say they are praying for peace and a long lasting solution to the conflict so that they could return to their homes and rebuild their disclocated lives.


White Tamil blends into suburbia

STRIDING out towards the local shops in neat, casual slacks, former Victorian country nurse Adele Balasingham last week looked like the average 50-something woman on the suburban streets of London.

Fifteen years earlier, she wore guerilla garb in the jungles of Sri Lanka as "The White Tamil", the only foreigner among the leaders of the Tamil Tigers, the feared separatist group that pioneered suicide bombing and is now proscribed as a terrorist organisation in 32 countries.

For years she and her husband, Anton Balasingham, the Tigers' chief negotiator and ideologue, were hunted by the Sri Lankan Government in a savage war that has, so far, claimed 70,000 lives and shows no signs of ending.

Her husband's diabetes and kidney problems eventually forced the couple to shift to London, where they continued to work for the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as the best-known couple in the 700,000-plus Tamil diaspora around the world.

The former Adele Anne Wilby, whose husband died of kidney failure eight months ago, now finds herself in a delicate situation in London amid an unprecedented crackdown by Western governments against supporters of the LTTE. Since her husband's death, she has played no visible role in the LTTE but Sri Lankan diplomats told The Weekend Australian yesterday that at the first sign the 57-year-old had resumed work for the rebels, they would press British police to arrest her -- and they were confident Scotland Yard would do so.

For years, Britain allowed the Balasinghams to operate openly in London on behalf of the Tigers, despite British laws introduced in 2001 that made it an offence to support the group.

But in recent months Britain, Australia, Canada, France and the US have all laid criminal charges against alleged supporters of the Tigers and their 24-year struggle for a Tamil homeland.

"Western governments are ... waking up to the need to act against the LTTE and she is the best-known LTTE supporter ... outside Sri Lanka," a Sri Lankan diplomat said this week.

"There is not one Tamil expatriate in the world who does not know who she is -- and we want her arrested if she sets even one foot wrong." Balasingham told The Weekend Australian earlier this year that she had no intention of replacing her husband in his official capacities, despite earlier speculation that she would take over as the group's international "voice".

In an email exchange last week, she refused a request to discuss her future or her remarkable journey from growing up in Warragul, in Victoria's Gippsland, to being a player in international peace negotiations via a long stint in the Sri Lankan jungle, where she took part in Tiger ceremonies presenting teenage girl fighters with cyanide capsules so that they could kill themselves rather than be captured.

She left Australia as a 21-year-old nurse with two girlfriends to travel around Europe and work in London. It was while studying sociology in London that she met and married Balasingham, a charismatic academic who later became a key player in the Tigers.

In a rare interview in the early 1990s, she defended the practice of giving young Tamil Tiger fighters suicide capsules. "The cyanide capsule has come to symbolise a sense of self-sacrifice by the cadres in the movement and determination, their commitment to the cause and ultimately of course their courage," she said.

And in her 2001 book The Will to Freedom, Balasingham said she had carried weapons in Sri Lanka without ever firing in combat. "Undoubtedly, my life has been unusual for a village girl and extremely interesting," she said in an email last week.

"I was one of those fortunate people who had the rare experience of an exceptional partner with whom to share an unusual life."

Giving interviews "is just not something I do", she said.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama told The Weekend Australian during a visit to London in March that his Government was not concerned about her activities.

But a Sri Lankan diplomat said his Government was closely watching for any breach of British laws making it illegal to be a member of the Tigers or to "provide or show support" for them.

"We know the LTTE still pays her rent and supports her," he said.

"That may be out of gratitude for the past or it could be because they think she is still useful to them. She has better foreign connections and more experience in international negotiations than anyone else they have and she could be a valuable asset for them."

The diplomat conceded there would be a downside to having her arrested, because her husband had been a useful conduit for diplomatic talks with the Tigers and she could play a similar role.

"Her husband understood the need for political progress while the other LTTE leaders think victory can come through military struggle alone," he said. "But there is no sign of any peace talks anyway, and we would expect Scotland Yard to act against her."

Rahul Roy-Chaudhury, a South Asia specialist for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said yesterday that he believed British authorities would be reluctant to take action against her because she and her husband had been useful contact points for past peace talks.

"My sense is the Government would warn her against becoming active again, and would give her a choice, saying, 'Stop or we will have to arrest you'."


Emergency laws to curb LTTE weapons purchases

* As CoL soars, billions needed for war in north
* US official tells Congress:Tigers present in the east,inflation 20%,tourism down by 40 to 60 % and war taking heavy toll on economy

Even if it sounded somewhat innocuous, the new Emergency Regulations promulgated last Monday appeared significant. Regulations gazetted by President Mahinda Rajapaksa under the ongoing State of Emergency seek to prohibit the procurement of a variety of weapons by Sri Lankans. Laws relating to this, particularly the Dangerous Weapons Ordnance, have remained in the statute book for many decades.

But, this time the new regulations requires that "no person who being a Sri Lankan national, whether resident or outside Sri Lanka, shall procure or cause to be procured, aid or abet the procurement of, or provide financial assistance for the procurement of, military equipment." Such acts will be deemed to be an offence. Those suspected will be liable for arrest and detention. This is until they are tried by a High Court in Colombo.

Thus, the new regulation seeks to rope in Sri Lankans living abroad against whom they have evidence of any form of complicity in weapons procurements. A Defence Ministry source said the new regulations will empower the Police or the Security Forces to arrest them. They would be placed under detention after an order is obtained from the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. The source said until now the laws did not cover particularly those Sri Lankans living abroad who were helping the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) to procure weapons through various means. "Now, if they return, the law is on hand to deal with them," the source said.

The identities of several Sri Lankans have surfaced following investigations by law enforcement agencies in different countries. They include United States, France, Italy, Thailand and Cambodia. The schedules of prohibited items in last Monday's Gazette notification are grouped into four categories. The first are all types of military switches used for booby traps and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) and ISF Electric and ISF Percussion Igniter Switches.

The second category are all types of Weapons Systems/Weapons/Ammunition. They have been listed as 81 mm Mortar, 82 mm Mortar, 60 mm Mortar, 40 mm Rocket Propelled Grenades, 40 mm Grenade Launchers, All types of Machine Guns, All types of automatic rifles, Pistol, All Type of Fire Arms, All types of Artillery, Naval and Air Defence Guns, Anti-aircraft guns and accessories, All types of missiles/rockets, All types of grenades, All types of Armoured Vehicles, Naval ships and Military aircraft.

The third category: All types of radars and radar spares, All type of parachutes, Night Vision Devices and Beta Lights. The fourth category: Armoured vehicle spares, Submerged Vehicles or under water vehicles, Explosive detection equipment, Digital jamming devices, Infra-red illuminations, GPS equipment inclusive of Aviation GPS and laser designators. Three other items will be subject to Ministry of Defence approval. They are Laser Range Finders, Radar Range Finders and Thermal Image Devices. Note: Though GPS devices have been prohibited, such systems are now liberally incorporated into mobile and even satellite phones. In addition, GPS devices are sold in the open market in many countries and are used for navigation purposes.

The regulations empower the Secretary, Ministry of Defence "in the national interest" to prohibit items which in his opinion are "similar to, or resemble very closely, in its appearance," the items that have been banned. He has also been empowered to enlarge the list of items if he feels it is in "the interest of national security" to do so.

Those contravening the regulations are to be tried in a High Court that will convene in Colombo. They will be liable for rigorous imprisonment for a term not less than three months and not exceeding five years and to a fine of not less than Rs 500,000.

The new regulations come at a time when there is increased international attention being focused on Sri Lanka. The Government has turned down requests from two leading UN dignitaries who are paying separate visits to Colombo to travel to Kilinochchi. This is for meetings with LTTE leaders. Arriving on Monday will be John Holmes, head of the Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs. He will be followed by Louise Arbor, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in the first week of October. The Government's inability to allow them to travel to Kilinochchi has already been conveyed to them. Officially the Government has taken up the position that such visits would only confer "undue recognition" to the LTTE. Government will fly the two visitors to both Jaffna and Batticaloa.

Co-inciding with the visit of Mr. Holmes is a damning report on Sri Lanka due to be released by the New York based Human Rights Watch on Monday. Mr Holmes, who succeeded Norwegian Jan Egeland, was one time a key advisor to then British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. He is due to meet President Rajapaksa, Human Rights Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe and Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama among others during his four day visit.

Sri Lanka also figured at the US Congress last Wednesday when their Sub Committee on the Middle East and South Asia discussed the political crisis in the region. Some of the remarks made by Steve R. Mann, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, set out the US Government position. Some relevant excerpts:

"Sri Lanka's long-standing ethnic conflict, fragile peace process, and deteriorating human rights conditions continue to cause concern for the United States and the international community. The conflict between the Sri Lankan Government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam entered a phase of intensified fighting during President Rajapaksa's administration. In recent months, fighting has been steady in the Tamil Tiger-controlled East as Government forces attempted to re-take areas held by the Tigers under the terms of the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement.

On July 11, 2007, the Sri Lankan military announced it had taken Thoppigala, the last remaining Tamil Tiger stronghold in the East, bringing the entire Eastern Province under government control. The costs of war have taken a heavy toll on the economy: inflation currently stands at 20% and tourism one of Sri Lanka's main industries - has plummeted by 40-60% since last year.

"Fighting continues in the North and there is a continued Tiger presence in the East. Just five days after the government announced it was in control of the East, suspected Tiger gunmen shot and killed a senior provincial administrator. The Tigers remain a considerable fighting force and are capable of launching attacks across the island. On July 25, the Tigers detonated a claymore mine in the North, killing 11 soldiers and wounding eight others.

"Prospects for peace are currently focused on an effort by the President's party, the major opposition parties, and other parties to finalise a proposal which would reform the constitution to create a system devolving certain powers to Tamil and other minority areas. The peace process in Sri Lanka has collapsed repeatedly in part due to a lack of political consensus over how to satisfy the rights and aspirations of the majority Sinhala and minority Tamil populations. It is critical that the country's political leadership engage fully and in good faith in the current debate over devolution of power and place the best interests of the country ahead of partisan politics. I must flag the fact that the Tamil Tigers share the responsibility for the negotiation impasse. It is important to note as well that although the Tigers are a party to the negotiations, they cannot be considered to be the representatives of all Sri Lankan Tamils.

"Our top policy priorities for Sri Lanka remain restoration of good governance and respect for human rights leading to an eventful negotiated settlement. We believe that finalising a credible devolution of power proposal, together with ending human rights violations and improving government accountability, are essential steps towards a lasting peace. The government of Sri Lanka must do more to provide security and equitable treatment for its citizens, including taking seriously the plight of internally displaced persons, creating the conditions to allow economic opportunities to return across the island, and ensuring fair treatment at the hands of the police and security forces. These issues cannot be stably resolved through military means alone…….."

Mr. Mann has placed before the Congressional Committee the US Government's current thinking of developments in Sri Lanka. He has noted that the costs of war are taking a heavy toll on the Government. Jane's Defence Weekly has disclosed in a report this week that the Air Force alone wants equipment and other needs totalling US 300 million from July to December this year. The needs of the Army and the Navy are not still known. Naturally, when their requirements are totalled, it would add to billions of rupees or millions of dollars.

This is at a time when fuel prices are on the rise. The last increase on July 27 coupled together with increase in milk food prices has already dealt a crippling blow to Sri Lankans. Fears of attacks are driving villagers living closer to guerrilla dominated areas in the Vavuniya district to flee their homes. It is in this backdrop that the military is preparing for its next major onslaught on Tiger guerrilla positions in the North.


July 11 marks symbolic end to commando troop's month-long military campaign

The LTTE was thrown out of the Eastern Province by the Security Forces on July 11 after raising the national flag on the pinnacle of the Thoppigala rock on July 11 by Commando troops marking a symbolic end to their month long military campaign to capture the LTTE's last bastion in the Eastern province.

But the mammoth task entrusted with the Security Forces to guarantee a secured life for the civilian population belonging to all three ethnic groups in the eastern province is non ending. They are now engaged in a more laborious task further exposing the real picture the LTTE operated inside this jungle terrain unearthing weapon stocks worth billions of rupees.

Unearthing weapons

The recovery of the LTTE weapons and ammunitions in huge quantities, by these heroic soldiers from the Thoppigala jungle will be an eye opener for those who tried to downplay the achievements by the Security Forces in the East describing the territory they captured as mere deserts and jungles.

Without any exaggeration of the fact, it has now been proved that Thoppigala and Narakamulla was not a mere jungle territory for the LTTE but a launching pad to destabilize the entire Eastern province, fortunately troops did not ignore this territory simply describing it as a jungle hideout of the LTTE.

Step by step the troops engaged in these search and clear operations are recovering large stocks of weapons and ammunitions from these jungle terrains further confirming their victory in the East.

First, they made a major breakthrough by recovering their deadliest weapon 12 barrel Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher from Meeyangolla in Thoppigala on July 18. However, the whereabouts of the LTTE cadres remained a mystery for the Security Forces as they could not track the fleeing Tiger cadres after the capture of Baron's Cap on July 11.

The Commando troops moved to capture Baron's Cap on July 11 also confirmed that they had observed the presence of more than 200 Tiger cadres who had arrived there from Narakamulla and had fled towards Vadamunai and Meeyangolla area at the time they captured the rock on July 11.

However, the Security Force continued to track the fleeing Tiger cadres who had escaped towards Vanni via jungle terrains in the West of Vakarai and South of Trincomalee.

But a senior LTTE cadre who escaped from the fleeing Tiger cadres and surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army Sittandi Brigade two weeks after the fall of Thoppigala made a major revelation to the Army about major weapon stocks of the LTTE.

This senior LTTE'R has revealed how they escaped from Baron's Cap area, minutes prior to the capture of the area by the Commando troops and fled towards Vadamunai loading their weapons and food stocks in ten tractors. According to this surrendered cadre all four Tiger leaders Jeyam, Nagesh, Ramesh and Keerthi were there at the time troops hoisted national flag on the top of Barons' Cap.

Taking the cover of rocky terrain close to Motagala, Meeyangolla, four leaders has decided to flee the area towards four directions regrouping the remaining cadres into four groups.

The surrendered cadre under the orders of Tiger leader Keerthi has buried many of their weapons including Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher after separating it to three parts and mortar launchers and other heavy weapons as they could not use them for fear of retaliation by the Security Forces and as they were a heavy burden on them in their task of fleeing the area.

Troops engaged in search and clear operations found this terrain where the LTTE cadres had left the ten tractors they were fleeing and unearthed the Multi Barrel Rocket Launcher from a location close to that area.

But they were never aware that Tigers had missiles and Anti Aircraft guns inside the Thoppigala jungle.

Since the LTTE had not used these guns, recently the Security Forces never suspect that LTTE was having missiles with them. The only suspicion they had was about the air-conditioned bunkers found in Narakamulla area, but their suspicion was never directed towards a missile belonging to the LTTE.

However, the surrendered Tiger cadre to Sittandi Brigade made a major revelation about the deadly weapons they had inside the jungle and could pin point the location where he had buried Anti Aircraft Gun and the SA-14 Missile, under the directive of Tiger leader Keerthi.

With this revelation troops engaged in search operation on Monday evening unearthed this deadly weapon buried safely with polythene packing to be unearthed for future use.

According to military experts the SA-14 missile had been frequently used by the LTTE to destroy aircraft of the Sri Lanka Air Force in late 1990s. The Observations by the Missile experts later confirmed that the anti-aircraft missile is a SA-14 GREMLIN- 9K34 Strela-3 type.

Therefore, Security Forces suspect that the air conditioned bunkers they found in Narakamulla were used to store these missiles safely as it was a heat sensitive missile.

According to experts the LTTE has used same type of Missile to destroy SLAF MI 24 aircraft in late 1990's in Kokilai.

With these recoveries along with the long list of weapons and ammunitions recovered by the troops engaged in the search and clear operations in Thoppigala one could imagine the mayhem the LTTE could have done in the East with these weapons if the Security Forces simply ignored this jungle terrain as an area without strategic importance.
Arms and explosive cache

According to Military Thoppigala and Vakarai have so far yielded one of the biggest LTTE arms and explosives caches in the Eastern military operations during the last 25 years with the recovery of Anti Aircraft Guns, MBRLs, 152 mm Artillery Guns, 120 mm artillery, mortars, heavy machine guns, anti aircraft missiles, mines and explosives were either buried or concealed in thick jungle patches by retreating LTTE cadres.

Even seven months after the capture of Vakarai from the clutches of LTTE, Security Forces still uncover large haul of weapons from Verugal and Vakarai.

This is clear evidence that the LTTE had made use of billions of dollars raised from the Tamil Diaspora spread all over the world to purchase these weapons internationally in the name of liberation of the Tamils while the innocent Tamil community suffer without any basic needs which, the LTTE could have easily given to them using these funds.

But, there is no proof to say that LTTE is using a single dollar for the wellbeing of the Tamil community instead of blaming the Sri Lankan Government for not providing enough facilities for the Tamil community, while blocking all the Government efforts to provide the best available facilities to the Tamil community.

Therefore, the efforts made by the Security Forces proves a worthy cause as it helped the Tamil community to enjoy their freedom without any hindrance by the LTTE while accessing the development drive undertaken by the Government in the East.

With these new developments, every chance to downplay the victory of the Security Forces in the East diminished as they not only capture Tiger territory but also caused major losses to them in man power and military logistics which are the main features of a successful military victory as the troops engaged in these search and clear operations also recovered the bodies of the Tiger cadres killed in confrontations with the Security Forces in various places inside the jungle.

These recoveries confirm that more than 550 Tiger cadres have been killed during the Thoppigala battle.

As troops recover more and more weapon and other military hardware form the Thoppigala jungle further confirming their victory in the East, another section of troops are now engaged in a mission to track the fleeing terrorists from the East.

The troops received information about 200 cadres, who had crossed Polonnaruwa Batticaloa main road close to Valachchenai and were heading towards the Wanni taking the covered jungle terrain in the West of Vakarai towards Sittaru jungle in South West of Trincomalee.

Since the information received late to the 23 Division in Welikanda the message was passed to 222 Brigade in Allai Kantalai to track the fleeing cadres.

However, a search operation conducted in Sittaru confirmed there was no such big strength of the LTTE cadres inside the jungle and they observed signs about 100 cadres.

However, the troops of the 9 Gemunu Watch who were deployed along the Trincomalee Habarana road were on alerts about the Tiger cadres crossing the road.
Tracking fleeing Tigers

Unaware of these developments, the fleeing Tiger cadres launched a desperate attempt to cross the Trincomalee Habarana road from Sinha Kanda area close to Thambalagamauwa in the wee hours on Wednesday attacking some Civil Defence Force personnel.

However, the confrontation ignited with reinforcements arriving there from the 9 GW battalion forcing the Tiger cadres to flee further towards the jungle along with their injured cadres.

It has been confirmed many Tiger cadres had sustained injuries during this search operation.

The fact that has to be emphasized here is that, if proper coordination was there between respective Brigades the fleeing Tiger cadres would have been easily tracked before they fled towards Kaddawan jungle.

Life style in the East is returning to normality with the Security Forces and the Police making arrangements to strengthen the security of the civilian population now being peacefully resettled in their original habitations.

It has been decided to hand over the security of the Batticaloa district entirely to the Police Special Task Force and the Police confining the Army camps more towards securing jungle terrains in the district.

With these developments, the Army will be restricted to Vakarai and Thoppigala jungle area.

To secure the Thoppigala jungle area it has been decided to shift the 232 Brigade in Sittandi to Tharavikulam area with the appointment of Lt. Colonel Jayampathi Thillekeratne the former Commanding Officer of the 8 Gemunu Watch as the Brigade Commander.

This was to make Thoppigala jungle inaccessible to the LTTE for their clandestine operations to destabilize the civilian population in the district as the final phase of the resettlement process is now taking place in the district.

Commandant of the Police Special Task Force DIG Nimal Lewke also had visited the East this week to inspect the security plan in the district and the places where STF camps should be established.

With these developments taking place in the East, the Security Forces also took steps this week to fortify their positions in the Welioya sector as they observe major build up by the LTTE in the area threatening the civilian life in the area mainly in Ethavetunuvewa close to Oddusudan area.

Therefore, it is now obvious that LTTE will definitely launch a major assault on the Security Forces defences in Weli Oya soon as they feel very insecure in the territory in the Wanni after they totally lost control over the East.

The Security Forces too is ready to face such pending threat shifting the Commando Brigade under the command of Brigadier Chargi Gallage to Weli Oya sector indicating that the Security Forces will not end to their humanitarian mission commenced from the East without fully liberating the country from the clutches of the LTTE.


20 cadres of Tamil Tigers killed in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lanka Army has claimed that at least 20 cadres of the Tamil Tigers were killed and five others injured in the past 24 hours as the fighting spread to the north.

"The Tiger cadres were killed while "attempting to breach the forward defences" in different locations in the Wanni area", an english daily reported here quoting official sources.

"LTTE casualties would go up as infiltrating terrorist elements drew heavy gun fire from the troops at the Wanni forward defences." "The moves by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) units that attempted to move into the liberated territory from Periya Panchan and Thampanai were successfully thwarted by the security forces", it claimed.

Separately the Presidential Secretariat said the police have agreed to obtain the assistance of "recognized Citizens' Committees" in recording complaints by the public in several districts of the Northern and Eastern Provinces, beginning with Mannar district.

In another development, the LTTE alleged that five civilians were abducted by the Karuna group and the army in Batticaloa two weeks ago.

It said members from the Karuna group and the army came to the houses of these civilians and took them away.


All Clear’ for Madhu feast

The military has given a written assurance that it would open the Madhu Road from August 10 to 17, to enable pilgrims from the South to visit the holy shrine for the August 15 Madhu Matha feast.
The road closed by the army after the August 15 feast last year, was not opened for the July 2 feast this year. The LTTE which has given a verbal assurance, is expected to give it in writing tomorrow.
The breakthrough was significant, as Mannar was tense with operations and counter operations by the two sides, and only last Tuesday, the LTTE targeted an army vehicle at Cheddikulam on the Mannar-Medawachchiya Road.
The two sides, following several meetings with the church authorities and the ICRC, have agreed to refrain from any political or military activity, ahead of and after the feast, until all pilgrims have left.
The army had last month declined to open the Madhu Road for the July 2 feast, even after the LTTE agreed to do so after a meeting between Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph and LTTE Political Wing Leader S.P. Thamilselvan.
As the military agreement was not forthcoming for last month’s feast, access to the Madhu shrine was through the Uliyankulam Road.
Two days after the feast, Bishop Joseph wrote to Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa on July 4, requesting the army to open the Madhu Road for the main August feast.
After the matter was taken up at a high level security conference, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa had instructed Additional Secretary R.M. Ratnayake to write to Bishop Joseph. Accordingly, MOD clearance was granted, courtesy a letter dated July 23, addressed to the Bishop of Mannar and signed by Assistant Secretary Defence, H.A. Chaminda As the Defence Secretary was out of the country, his brother, Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa, met Bishop Joseph and sorted out matters on Monday.
In April this year, during an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was requested by Vaticam Secretary Cardinal Tarcisco Bertone to allow pilgrims to visit the holy shrine.
LTTE top official Suda Master conveyed the LTTE’s clearance to open its side of the Road for the Madhu feast and on Monday a written assurance is to be sent to the Mannar Bishop.
There were also meetings between Bishop Joseph and outgoing Security Forces Commander, Wanni, Major General Upali Edirisinghe and Vavuniya Commander Major General Ratnasabapathy and Brigadier S. Ranasinghe from the Wanni.
Accordingly, the Madhu Road will be opened from 8:00 am to 6:00 p.m. for all pilgrims but, the church authorities are trying to obtain clearance for a 24-hour opening during these days. Church and civil authorities are confident that there would be a turn out of between one to two lakhs from the South and the North. During peace times, an average 500,000 people make the trek to the Madhu shrine from around the country.
Anuradhapura Biship Norbert Anradhi and Galle Bishop Harold Anthony have confirmed participation and so have more than half-dozen priests, Mannar Bishop Joseph said.
Bishop Joseph said that while pilgrims of all faiths would have their unique spiritual experience, he was keen on having pilgrims from the north and south to live together as a testimony of unity and brotherhood in a country torn apart by strife from war. He said the theme this time is Prayer for Peace and pilgrims are advised to bring their tents as usual, as there are only limited housing facilities.
All proceeds are used for the maintenance of this 450-year-old holy shrine in the middle of a jungle.
The nine-day novenas, ahead of the August 15 feast, will commence tomorrow, with the hoisting of the church flag, a day after the church administrator Rev. Fr. S. Emillanaspulle celebrated his silver jubilee of ordination.
Access from August 6 to 9, will be through the Uyilankulam entry point and not through the Madhu Road. Pilgrims are expected to carry their NIC as well as copies and vehicle insurance and ownership details with copies, to pass through army and LTTE checkpoints in the forward defence lines of the two sides.
On Friday, Mannar Government Agent Nicholaspulle held a meeting at the Kachcheri with all the relevant authorities from different sectors, including Health and Sanitation, Water Supply and Drainage, Food and Fuel, Roads and Transport, Police and Security attended by the OIC of the Uliyankulam Police Point and officers from the Thallady Army Camp.
This was the third such meeting held on Friday while the second was held last Wednesday on August 1 and the first on July 25 after MOD clearance was granted. The last meeting would be held on Wednesday, August 8 after road clearance.
The army is in charge of the first section of the Madhu Road which is nearly 800 metres up to no-man’s land, which is another 300 metres, while the LTTE is in charge of nearly 11 km. The road is being cleared up to 50 feet on both sides and demarcations made to ensure the protection of pilgrims. Clearing of no-man’s land will be done by the Army and the LTTE in the presence of monitors or the ICRC and church authorities.
The area south of the A-14, Mannar-Medawchchiya Road, is under army control and areas north are under LTTE control. The Madhu Road starts at the turn off on the Mannar-Medawachciya Road and is under army control initially followed by no-man’s land and the road up to the shrine is under Tiger control. The approach to the shrine is being cleared by the church. The A-14 Road extends up to Talaimannar, which is under Navy control. From Uliyankulam where there is an entry-exit point, there is a road that leads all the way up to Pooneryn that is under LTTE control.


Karuna to lose arms?

The government has hinted that the Karuna group would be disarmed soon.
According to Defence Spokesman and Minister Keheliya Rambukkwella the law enforcement authority has now been directed to take anyone carrying arms illegally in the east to task, in keeping with the law of the land.
The Minister said that in the past Karuna group could not be checked and its movement monitored due to the conflict, but added, with the liberation of the east this had become possible.
He said the government would not officially inform Karuna or any other paramilitary group to lay down arms, because it was not the government that officially handed over weapons to them.
“Since these groups decided to carry arms on their own, they have to lay down their arms on their own. Otherwise, they would be dealt with severely according to the law,” Rambukwella told The Nation.
He also said that those carrying arms would not be allowed to contest elections.
“This is unfair and undemocratic. The government has given arms only to the three armed forces and the police. Nobody else can possess weapons in this country,” he added.


Wanni top brass in ‘musical chairs’

Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka on Friday made a beeline to Vavuniya where he was received by outgoing Wanni Security Forces Commander Major General Upali Edirisinghe.
General Fonseka met Divisional Commanders and Brigade Commanders to review the security situation in the Wanni and brief them on operations ahead, now that the East has been cleared.
The Army Commander’s visit to the Wanni came exactly a week after army headquarters announced changes in the Wanni command, which were reported in a Sunday newspaper last week.
Senpathi reported changes to the commands in the Wanni - 56 and the newly created 57 Divisions- on June 17. Brigadier Jagath Rambukpotha from the artillery was appointed General Officer Commanding (GOC) 56 Division while Brigadier Jagath Dias from the infantry was appointed GOC 57 Division.
Commander, Mannar Division, Major General Udeni Munasinghe, given a Brigadier’s appointment, retired prematurely and was replaced by Brigadier Channa Gunatilleke.
Area Commander Weli Oya, Major General Nimal Jayasuriya, once GOC 53 Division, was replaced by Brigadier M.K. Jayawardena. And to top it all, Security Forces (SF) Commander, Wanni, Major General Upali Edirisinghe was also removed and replaced by Major General Jagath Jayasuriya.
Ever since the GOC 53 Division Brigadier Srinath Rajapaksa was selected for a defence course in China, speculation was rife that Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, would replace him. This would have been a stepping stone to SF Commander Jaffna, from General G.A. Chandrasiri, who further climbed the ladder. General Jagath Jayasuriya has been brought straight away as SF Commander Wanni. With this appointment and that of Major General G.P.R.S. de Silva as GOC 21 Division, the entire Wanni Command has changed within a space of two months.
Changing the entire Command in a very vulnerable area, may send mixed signals to the LTTE. It may mean that the military would no longer be pursuing operations in the Wanni or, it could also mean that officers were handpicked to undertake specific operations in the region.
Generally, change of the entire command could be disadvantageous to the forces. SF Commanders and Division Commanders need time to familiarize themselves with Brigade Commanders and Field commanders, to get to know their strengths and weaknesses and to familiarize themselves with the terrain and be privy to intelligence inputs of the enemy, before taking the plunge. Of course, those leaving the command would pass on available intelligence.
With the Wanni waiting to flare up, and the buildup already reported previously, the question is which side would take the initiative? The LTTE has two options, either to dig in with a formidable defence or, pre-empt with a strike. A successful strike would unsettle the Government, making it more vulnerable.
Political events do have an impact on military operations. This week the ruling alliance was rocked with the news that a coalition partner, the Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), withdrew its support for the government. A major section of the CWC, headed by its leader, Arumugam Thondaman, decided to sit in the Opposition benches from next week.
This follows SLFP (M) wing leader Mangala Samaraweera’s announcement that several members would cross over to the Opposition. Generally, such crossovers begin with minority parties like the CWC and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), as witnessed in 2001. These are followed by disgruntled members of the key party in a ruling alliance that takes a decisive step after satisfying itself as to the direction the wind is blowing.
The initial euphoria of military victories has already died down, with the cost of living spiraling even as the expenditure shoots up. The government is cash strapped and not knowing where to turn.
On the other hand, the LTTE, which hit a low ebb, has the advantage of playing for time, a factor any terrorist organization relishes. On the other hand, governments- whether they are pursuing peace or war agenda- have limited timeframes to achieve their objectives. The government is three years, three months old and already showing signs of cracking up, unless the JVP supports it with its numbers. This will be to its own advantage, as the JVP would not want to go to the polls for fear of reducing its own numbers. To continue the war, the JVP would support the government, which, however, allowed the JVP to go its own way, after accepting crossovers from the Opposition, against the wishes of the Marxist party.
Political support apart, the question is how would the government raise money to carry on its programmes, even as the international community seems to distance itself from the administration.
Even if it has the political support in Parliament and the financial wherewithal to continue operations, what is the guarantee that the LTTE, well entrenched in the Wanni, would cave in. On the other hand, if the military faces a reversal, it would affect the ruling SLFP’s chances of returning to power.
All its achievements so far, culminating in the liberation of Thoppigala and the entire east, would come to naught.
The operations to drive away the LTTE from Muttur (first anniversary this week), Kattaparichchan, Lower Thopur, and Selvanagar, Sampur, Vakarai , Verugal , Kadiraveli and Thoppigala were reported in great detail by Senpathi who also recorded shortcomings of the military and the LTTE air raids, much to the chagrin of certain officers. The Navy’s direct contribution in the early operations and indirect support to the military, by preventing supplies and reinforcements by sea, must also be recorded.
During the past year, the military recovered an unprecedented amount of arms and ammunition, after each operation. The recent ones are no exception. Major Sarada Samarakoon who led soldiers from the 10 Gajaba Regiment recovered a massive haul of arms and ammunition including four mortar launchers, a grenade launcher, two machine guns, a Sniper gun, 24 T-56 rifles and 60 rounds of ammunition, 200 mortar shells, 325 anti-personnel mines, 6,500 rounds of live ammunition, two claymore mines, 400 cartridges and 199 detonators. These were buried and camouflaged with leaves. Meanwhile, the 51 Brigade in Jaffna, this week, recovered a cache of arms and ammunition including five suicide belts loaded with ammunition.
Defence Secretary Gotbhaya Rajapaksa joined Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagam to the Philippines. ASEAN Regional Forum members, especially India, China, Australia, Japan and the United States were requested to help Sri Lanka protect its maritime borders. The Government is doing all it can, on all fronts, to prevent the LTTE from smuggling weapons into the country.
However, back home, the government is in a crunch. The JVP would support the government only until a point of time, when it is advantageous. The JVP would not want to be identified with the ruling party, as it would further affect its ratings at an eventual election.
While the options of the military are limited, given the political and financial considerations, the LTTE, on the other hand, is neither bound by financial constraints nor political compulsions.
Hence, the LTTE would, in time to come, when the government is weakened, begin to strike. Weli Oya has been identified as a vulnerable area
A former Reserve Strike Division (53) Commander Major General Nimal Jayasuriya who was accorded a farewell as outgoing Area Commander Weli Oya, now takes up a logistics duty as Forward Maintenance Area in Jaffna, ensuring enough provisions- food, fuel and the like.
At the time Jayauriya took up the appointment at Weli Oya, there was no Forward Defence Line (FDL) between Padaviya and Kebethhigollewa, which was attacked twice last year. As Weli Oya had been identified as a probable target by the Tigers, all out to prove they are still in the running, General Jayasuriya got a 25-km bunker line constructed to prevent raids on villages in Weli Oya. This was also to prevent the Tigers from infiltrating and placing bombs in the area.
A stretch of five km of no-man’s land between Kokkutuduvai, almost on the eastern coast, and Janakapura, was a tactical disadvantage to the army. General Jayasuriya had a fortified bunker line built linking Janakapura. This was also appreciated by the villagers.
A raid on a Sinhala border village could have a political fallout at the centre, which in turn, could affect the military balance in the war.
The LTTE is currently in a similar situation to the immediate post Riviresa, sans both the Jaffna peninsula and the East. In the earlier phase, it took Mulativu, this time it has to defend Mulativu.
It is tempting to go for the big kill in Mulativu and it is uncertain whether the military would receive the nod from a government trapped on all sides.


Colombo denies tampering with evidence in massacre probe

“Australian pathologist endorses Sri Lanka’s stance”

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has refuted charges that authorities investigating the case of execution style killing of 17 aid workers of a French NGO have tampered with the evidence.

The aid workers were killed after Muttur town in the east became a theatre of battle between the military and the LTTE in August last year. The military and the Tigers have blamed each other for the murders which triggered a furore within and outside the island nation.

Despite the passage of one year and an investigation by the Sri Lanka Government, there is little clarity about the culprits responsible for the executions. The probe came under a cloud in June after reports said an Australian pathologist engaged for assistance had suggested that at least one bullet on the body of a victim did not match the bullets found on the bodies of others.

The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists raised “serious concerns” in June that a bullet may have been removed from evidence submitted by investigators to a Sri Lankan court.
Consensus possible

The ICJ had said Malcolm Dodd, the Australian pathologist, who was present at a post-mortem last October, reported that eight bullets were recovered from seven bodies.

It quoted Dr. Dodd as saying one of the bullets was 5.56 calibre. The ICJ said 5.56 calibre bullets are commonly used in the M-16 rifles employed by Sri Lanka’s army and navy. However, the Sri Lanka Government insisted that all the bullets were 7.62 calibre.

Minister for Disaster Management and Human Rights, Mahinda Samarasinghe, has claimed at a news briefing that in a supplementary report titled “Independent Forensic Investigation of the Muttur Massacre,” Dr. Dodd has upheld the Sri Lankan Government analyst’s opinion in the investigations into the killings in August 2006.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Palitha Kohona, pointed out that the comments contained in the initial Dodd Report had been used by several international groups to discredit the Government .

“A consensus position is now possible and the investigation can progress unimpeded. It is now up to those who had used the Dodd Report subjectively to cast aspersions on the integrity on the Government of Sri Lanka, to retract their statements and in future not to leap to unduly hasty conclusions, when not in possession of the full facts”, the Minister said.


No clashes during Madhu festive season

The Security Forces and the LTTE have made written statements to the Bishop of Mannar, the Rt.Rev.Rayappu Joseph to refrain from fighting during the Madhu festive season which begins tomorrow and continues till August 17.

Bishop Rayappu Joseph told the Sunday Observer that it was a month ago that both sides agreed to avoid fighting during the festive season. However, the Ministry of Defence and the LTTE hierachy in Kilinochchi have made written statements this week to avoid clashes in the precincts of the Madhu shrine.

Following the decision by the two sides to cease fighting pilgrims arriving from the South to the shrine could now make their journey via the 12 km route from Parayanalankulam junction in Vavuniya, according to the Bishop. He also said that the Bishop of Galle, the Rt. Rev. Harold Anthony and the Bishop of Anuradhapura, the Rt.Rev.Norbert Andradi would also join him during the festive season.

"It was important to note that following the signing of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA), more than five-hundred thousand pilgrims had arrived from the South for the festival during the past four years. However, all arrangements have been made to accommodate the pilgrims who arrive at the 450-year-old Catholic shrine and let us pray for peace and harmony during the festive season," Bishop Rayappu Joseph said.


Karuna goes wild

Law enforcement authorities in Batticaloa and other parts of the Eastern Province are allegedly turning a ‘blind eye’ to the continuous complaints been made against the Karuna faction, also known as the Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP).
Sources speaking to The Nation on condition of anonymity disclosed that Karuna cadres are running riot in many parts of the East. Karuna cadres are said to be taking ‘virtual’ control of everything. It is intimidating the public in those areas with the intention of instilling a fear psychosis in the area.
“The situation was not this bad even when the LTTE was openly and actively operating in the province,” a source alleged.
The Nation reliably learns that despite several leading political parties in the Batticaloa district taking up this issue with the Batticaloa Senior Superintendent of Police, Maxi Proctor and other respective law enforcement officers, they have failed to address this growing problem.
“On Thursday Karuna cadres allegedly kidnapped two 16 year old boys. However, the parents of the boys did not go to the police, because they know if went and made a formal complaint, the police will not take any action against the culprits. Apart from that the families of the victims have to undergo severe trauma in forms of intimidation and harassment by the cadres,” the sources said.
Apart from encroaching lands belonging to civilians, the cadres have also commenced taking ransom, mainly from Tamil populated villages, The Nation learns.
Sources also said that following the school holidays, parents have begun to hide their children to safeguard them from being forcefully recruited by Karuna cadres. Karuna Cadres are said to be forcefully recruiting boys, taking them to their cadre-base and training them as combatants.
“The Karuna faction, which boasts of protecting the Tamils in the eastern province from the clutches of the Tigers, is just like the LTTE, if not far worse,” a source added.
Most vitimised families have now stopped complaining to the Police. They claim that when complaints are made to the police, details of those who make the complaints are leaked to the Karuna cadres. These families get intimidated and harassed by the Karuna cadres as a result.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in its weekly report, which ended on July 29, states that the SLMM has received several complaints regarding extortion and harassment by the so-called Karuna group in Batticaloa and Ampara. It is also reported that the Karuna group summoned people to their offices for questioning. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 23 Division in Batticaloa district has told the SLMM that it was a requirement to disarm the Karuna group in order to restore normalcy in the east.”


The Hearts and Minds Campaign and Why the LTTE will Collapse

A revolutionary war must achieve two things if it is to succeed - the acceptance and support of the people it represents and a military victory over the opposing armed forces, the first being by far the more important. Mao Tse Tung, the original proponent of guerrilla warfare (against the US-supported Kuo Mintang Chinese government) drew the famous simile of the revolutionary fighters as the fish and the people the water the fish needs to survive. His three-phase campaign comprises: winning the hearts and minds of the people through massive propaganda in Phase one; employing guerrilla warfare tactics to whittle down the security forces in Phase two; and totally defeating the security forces in Phase three. The final achievement is setting up a civil administration and establishing a permanent armed force for the security of the captured areas. During this entire period, the population must be subjected to massive propaganda to make it quiescent and accept the new regime.

Having lost the sympathy of the Tamil people by their murderous annihilation of the Tamil intelligentsia in 1976-77, the LTTE started a massive political campaign in 1982 to win back the sympathy and support of the Tamils. As they had alienated the local Tamils in Jaffna and Sri Lanka, they aimed their propaganda at the International Tamil diaspora, starting in 1982 with the Tamil students in London. They were ably assisted by a certain Tamil journalist in Tamil Nadu (where they had taken refuge from the Sri Lankan the security forces). In this, either by design or by accident, the LTTE was following Mao's doctrine for revolutionary war.

The territory granted to the LTTE by a foolish Prime Minister enabled it to bypass the second and third phases and begin setting up a civil administration, build permanent base camps and training camps for its armed forces free from interference by the security forces. Thanks to that single stupid act by that Prime Minister, the LTTE was able to leave its guerrilla phase and become a standing force with administrative support, complete with Flag Marches, banners and all the trappings of a regular armed force.

In the history of warfare, no army has ever been able to regain ground lost to revolutionary forces after they have achieved the final aim of setting up a civil administration. In fact, the only instance when a revolutionary war has failed is in Malaya in 1955, when General Templar of the British army defeated the Chinese insurgents by denying them the basic requirement of its supporting population base. This he did by massively re-locating entire Chinese villages, so that the Chinese insurgents were unable to obtain material support or evade the British/Malayan security forces. That is, he removed the water the fish needed to survive, and he did so during Phase two of the revolutionary campaign, and the campaign fizzled to a stop.

When you view the fall of Thoppigala and the complete capitulation of the LTTE forces defending the area in the light of this historical background, you will begin to see the real magnitude of the victory the Sri Lanka armed forces have achieved. They have not merely captured Thoppigala, but they have created history by reversing an almost successful revolutionary war and sending the insurgents back to Phase two. This has never, ever, happened in the past, anywhere in the world. Hats off to our soldiers, sailors and airmen, and the architects of this victory. True, Sri Lanka has a long way to go to achieve totals victory, but the back of the beast has been broken, its morale is shattered, and it is fighting its last battles.

The other, equally important reason why the LTTE will be eventually defeated is that they have failed to win the hearts and minds of the people. They still have their worldwide propaganda organization and the support of the Tamil diaspora brainwashed by their propaganda, but that no longer has any effect on the people that matter, the Tamil population in the areas left in their control.

The one single reason for this is the conscription of children. However much the parents are cajoled by anti-government propaganda, you cannot convince them their child is required for a so-called "higher" cause called Eelam. To a parent, their children are the highest things that matters. This has resulted in turning the apathy of the Tamil people to antipathy. The water the LTTE fish swim in is now irretrievable poisoned. That water has also greatly diminished. Where earlier they had about 200,000 people from whom to obtain sustenance, the loss of the East has more than halved the population base as the East had the larger population. The LTTE is now trying to survive in a diminished population base of less than 75,000, most of who are antagonistic to them. Of course they still have the foolish and remote support of the brainwashed diaspora, but that does not count for their survival in Sri Lanka.

You have heard the Defence Secretary talking about winning the hearts and minds of the people in the East. That is what is going to win the war for us, because a satisfied population, a population that feels safe and secure among the inevitable security force domination and presence in the area, which will be, must be, diametrically different to the LTTE propaganda about the security forces, will reinforce the victory, and when word of this gets back to the Tamil people in the North, they will be even more disillusioned with the LTTE. Let us hope that those who implement the hearts and minds campaign do not merely pay lip service to the program, but is sincere in the way it is handled.

There are several precautions the governments must take in re-settling the East. The first is with regard to land holding. Before the LTTE was given control of the East, there were as many Sinhalese in the area as Tamil, and the Sinhalese and Muslims together outnumbered the Tamil population. It is absolutely essential that the Sinhalese should return to their old homesteads and the previous population balance re-established. The First stage of the Mahaweli Diversion Scheme and the Maduro Oya scheme has made this area a farmer's dream. In fact, long before the LTTE, and even before the water was available, Tamil politicians began settling Tamil farmers in the area, which led to a dark chapter in the Mahaweli scheme.

The Venerable Seelananda Thera of Thoppigala was the first to see the danger to the Sinhalese in these Tamil settlements, and journeyed to Colombo to camp outside the Mahaweli Authority buildings until he was able to get the Mahaweli Development officers to perform their duties properly by allocating land on an equal basis to Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim applicants. Unfortunately for the Sinhalese, the JR Jayawardene government, in search of Tamil votes, decided appeases the Tamil politicians and ordered a pliant Volunteer (territorial) unit of the Army led by one Ben Silva to chase the Sinhalese away at gunpoint. Later on, the President's son, Ravi Jayawardene went against his father's wishes (not for the first time), to try and redress this mistake, and many Sinhalese farmers who were able to settle in this fertile area have to thank him for his courage. These settlements continued under the Venerable Seelananda's patronage until he was murdered by the LTTE.

Many of these Sinhalese and Muslim farmers have since been chased away by the LTTE. It is essential therefore that in exercising the Hearts and Minds program, the interests and rights of the Sinhalese and Muslim farmers is not forgotten. If Sinhalese and Muslim farmers are not willing to risk their families until security is assured, their land and land allocated to them must be held until they are ready to take over the land. If this is not done, the Hearts and Minds program will succeed in doing what the LTTE failed to do - that is, create a Tamil-dominated East.

The other precaution is with regard to the Karuna faction. However 'helpful' they have been, they have their own agenda, and that agenda is not with the government. This group must be neutralized as they will remain an enigma and thorn in the side of the security forces. One of the lessons the last twenty years has taught is that security forces must be permanently based in a given area, rather than being rotated at intervals as used to be in the past, and those security forces must be recruited from the area so that they identify with the people. In predominantly Tamil areas, the Security Forces must be predominantly Tamil, and in Muslim areas they must be Muslim. This prevents the "occupation forces" mentality that is so harmful to relations between the security forces and the public they serve. The same is true of the civil Police. If this policy is to be implemented, the Regiments that are to be based in this area may be able to absorb members of the Karuna faction, as security force duties are the only type of employment open to them, and for which they have any training.

Yet another important precaution is to ensure that evangelists in the guise of NGOs do not begin their sordid work of capitalizing on the susceptibilities of those who have suffered under the LTTE (as they did after the Tsunami) under the pretext of providing aid. All activities of dubious NGOs must be monitored. People must be warned to report any attempts at conversion of Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims. Any such NGOs must be forcibly removed and debarred from returning to Sri Lanka as India has already done.

The LTTE has already commenced sabotage operations against redevelopment in the East, the first victim being the Chief Secretary of the Eastern Province, Mr Herath Abeywira, who was shot to death by a LTTE hit man. While stringent security may be able to prevent similar incidents, even more can be done through proper Intelligence, particularly with the public becoming increasingly secure and comfortable with the presence of the security forces. When suspects are arrested and interrogated, it must be conducted in a lawful manner as harsh handling creates more terrorists.

The Sri Lanka army has regained its mettle, and there will be no holding them back. This government, however much it professes its willingness to negotiate, must not accede to another ceasefire, unless it is on condition that the LTTE first lays down its arms, disbands all its armed forces including their so called sea tigers and suicide bombers. This may very well be the case as long as the President continues to listen to his chief adviser, his own brother, who has had first hand experience of the effects of such ceasefires. As their inevitable end nears, the LTTE will resort to increasingly drastic measures, and the country should be ready to experience a spate of suicide bombings and sabotage.

Nevertheless, the LTTE has made a grave mistake by failing to win the hearts and minds of the people among whom they must exist and by doing so have flouted the most important principle of revolutionary war. While they may yet command, by intimidation, the support of the worldwide Tamil diaspora, their days in Sri Lanka are surely numbered.