|Parents of the five students killed lighting the flame of sacrifice and
Photographs of the students
Make or break week
By Amantha Perera
It is a historic week indeed. Not only is the ceasefire entering its fourth
year, but the Tigers and the government delegates would be sitting
down for face-to-face talks for the first time since 2003, later this week.
It would be totally different from the last time the two sides met, though.
The euphoria of 2002 is but a distant memory now. There are no peace
caravans that are crossing the A9 from the south, instead there is
trepidation all over on how close the two sides have cometo all out war.
Only Anton Balasingham, S.P. Tamilselvan and Balasingham's wife
Adele have survived from both sides who met for the first five rounds
between 2002 and 2003. There would not be a lot of camaraderie as
well. Most certainly there would not be joint tree planting sessions.
The Tigers say they only want to talk of the implementation of the truce
agreement and have listed out what they want to discuss. On top would
be the Karuna factor. The Karuna group has however said they cannot
be slotted within the framework of the CFA, arguing that they were not in
existence when it was signed and thus it is not applicable to them.
War reaches Middle East
In the meantime, the internecine warfare within the LTTE, between the
Karuna faction and the main group spilled out of Sri Lanka to the Middle
Manoharan, alias Kuruvi, a 26-year-old Karuna supporter succumbed to
head injuries received during an assault on February 13 at the Ahamed
Hospital in Doha, Qatar. The TMVP, Karuna's political arm, said last
week that Kuruvi had been attacked by a group of Tiger intelligence
operatives with a steel crowbar while he was asleep on February 6. The
TMVP said the Qatari police had arrested three of the attackers last
week and were hunting for others as well.
The TMVP added there were hundreds of Karuna supporters who had
fled the east following the rebellion and are now in the Middle East. Most
are working as labourers. More than 1,000 are working in Qatar itself,
according to the TMVP.
Kuruvi who worked as a cleaner at the International Cleaning Company
had been living at a camp located at Sanya in Doha when he was
attacked. According to the little information that was filtering out of
Qatar, the two camps appear to be hotbeds of supporters of both
Karuna and the main LTTE group.
Kuruvi who hails from Sithandy in Batticaloa had been a member of the
Jayanthan Brigade, an elite fighting unit formerly based in the east
before the split, and had taken part in several major operations
including against Operation Jayasikuru.
He had also been injured in fighting. TMVP said that he had left for
Qatar in May 2004 after Karuna dismantled the military arm of the TMVP.
With hundreds of Karuna cadres fleeing to the Gulf states, Karuna
sources said the Tigers had dispatched their own intelligence operatives
to persuade them to return.
"The intelligencesquad from the LTTE group, headed byMathan of
Palukamam,metwith the members of the Karuna group in the two ICC
Their mission was to persuade the members of the Karuna group to
abandonCol. Karuna and return to Batticaloa to fight the final battle
against the Sri Lanka government withtheLTTE," the TMVP said in a
statement soon after Kuruvi was assaulted.
Aggressive campaign launched
However, Mathan had failed to convince the former Tigers to rejoin and
had left for Sri Lanka. He had been sent to Qatar by Keerthi, an
intelligence leader in Batticaloa, according to Karuna sources.
Thereafter, another LTTE cadre based in Qatar, Sukasan had launched
an aggressive campaign to persuade Kuruvi and others.
Three days before Kuruvi was assaulted, the TMVP said that Sukasan
had led a group that had torn photographs of Karuna that had been put
up in parts of the camp.
The TMVP also said that Sukasan and two others, Ranjan and
Sarangan all hailing from Palukamam in Batticaloa had been arrested on
suspicion of carrying out the attack. They had been employed at
another cleaning company. The TMVP said Sukasan was in charge of
extorting money from Tamils working in Doha.
The group had been motivated by another LTTEer named Manoranjan
who had arrived in Qatar after Mathan's failed visit. "Police is
combingthe areato arrest Manoranjan alias Kandeepan, the LTTE
intelligence agentwho arrived from Batticaloa on the orders of Keerthi on
a temporary visitor's visa to Qatar.
It is learnt that already the police are in possession of thepassports of
Manoranjan and of other intelligence agents who were in Qatar to
harass Karuna's loyalists," the TMVP said last week.
NGO, INGO issue
In the meantime, evidence surfaced last week that the LTTE too has
been gathering information on NGOs and INGOs working in the north
east. Parliament recently set up a select committee to look into the
actions of the nongovernmental agencies and it appears that the Tigers
too have similar concerns.
In January the LTTE Planning and Development Secretariat sent out a
questionnaire to NGOs in the Batticaloa District. It listed 10 questions
that required detailed answers. Among the questions were a request for
details of projects, financial strength of the organisations and allocation
of funds, details of employees including permanent addresses and
contact details, details of vehicles and details of technicians and other
professionals working with the organisations.
The military too has been gathering the same information for a database
being developed by them. There have been various problems that have
cropped up when dealing with the NGOs.
Soon after the tsunami, they flooded the country without any proper
supervision. In Batticaloa alone the estimate is that more than 100
NGOs are at work. Recently regulations were introduced that only
officials who had fulfilled registration requirements with the Social Affairs
Ministry would be allowed access into LTTE held areas.
However, when the rule was put to practice, many NGOs said that
individual employees did not carry any letters from the Ministry and that
the registration was only carried out for the organisation as a whole,
leaving security forces officials manning entry points in a quandary.