Sri Lanka: The Untold Story, Chapter 45

War continues with brutality

by K T Rajasingham, ‘Asian Times,’ Singapore, 2002

On the one hand, an inhumane campaign of collective punishment on the Tamils was unleashed by the Government of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, while on the other hand a brutal and ruthless campaign was let loose by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), led by Velupillai Prabakaran, against the Muslims, Sinhalese and other sections of the Tamils.

An attack by the LTTE on June 11, 1990, marked the renewal of the armed conflict in the country. The LTTE continued to unleash its superior firepower against numerous police stations and army detachments in the North and Eastern provinces. The Minister of State for Defense, Ranjan Wijeratne, announced from the floor of the parliament, on June 18, 1990, “From now on, it is all out war and no half ways.” The Government moved military reinforcements into the areas, which came under LTTE attack and gradually hostilities escalated.

July 10, was the 30th day after the abduction and killing of policemen in the East. The day started quietly in Kalmunai. A group of soldiers was seen taking up positions at the Kalmunai Rest House junction. Several passersby were detained, including Dr and Mrs. Shanmugam, who had come from Paddiruppu. Four of the detainees were stabbed to death and their bodies were thrown behind two Muslim shops, which were later set on fire. There were evidently no more Tamil shops to burn. It must be noted that, nearly all killings of civilians took place when there was no threat to the lives of servicemen. Muslims confirmed that, there were four mutilated corpses behind the shops and they retrieved the corpses. But, no one was able to establish with certainty whether Dr and Mrs. Shanmugam were among the four dead.

The soldiers withdrew to their camp that morning with some detainees. About mid-night the same day, a single burst of machine gun fire was heard from the army camp. It was clearly not a confrontation. A senior citizen reported several days later that, 42 persons were killed on that day. A Tamil MP who toured the area said that more than 160 persons had been killed in the Kalmunai-Karaitivu areas. In August 1990, the Government provided arms to the Muslim home guards, after the LTTE had killed hundreds of Muslims in the East. The Government policy of arming civilians groups in the East appeared to have intensified the violence in those areas.

Tension between and within the communities worsened. The number of Sinhalese home guards under the control of the police, along the borders of the North and Eastern provinces was nearly 23,000. They were supposed to work under the local police and were provided with weapons at night, according to Government reports. In June 1991, the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence put the number of Muslim home guards as 2,000. He added that they had been provided with arms by the army, but they should not be considered home guards, though technically they performed the same functions. According to press reports, it was reported that home guards who abused their positions would be disciplined by the army commander of the area, but it was never reported that any such action was ever taken.

According to reports available in an Amnesty International report, Sri Lanka – The Northeast: Human Rights Violations in a Context of Armed Conflicts dated September 1991: 6.1 The Relationship between home guards and security forces: “Muslims collaborating with the security forces are reported to have provided lists of Tamil people for the security forces to target as terrorist suspects, including several Tamil government employees and other educated Tamil people. Local rivalries are believed to have found expression in the creation of these lists, and potential leaders within the Tamil community are reported to have been targeted. For example, a local human rights organization has reported that, many of approximately 37 Tamil people were extra-judicially executed in Akkaraipattu, soon after government forces moved in June 1990, were government employees. In Karaitivu, the same organization reported that, about 26 educated Tamil people were targeted, and put into a room, where all but three were killed. Amnesty International does not know the names of these victims.”

People were afraid to report violations committed by the security forces. Members of citizens’ committees in the east, who made representation to the security forces on behalf of prisoners in their custody, were killed or disappeared. Among them was Pandiyuram, alias Kanapathipillai, chairman of the Kalmunai citizens’ committee who disappeared together with one of his sons, at the end of June, 1990. Again, Jegarajasingham, a member of the Valaichenai citizens’ committee, disappeared in June 1990, while making a representation at a local army camp.

Meanwhile, several Tamil militant groups opposed to the LTTE were deployed in different areas under army control. Members of the Eelam People’s Democratic Party (EPDP) worked with the army in Kayts and also identified and handed over LTTE suspects to the security forces in Colombo. They were delegated with responsibilities to check the infiltration of LTTE suspects in refugee camps in Colombo, specially set up for Tamil refugees. Members of the People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) operated in Vavuniya separately and also jointly with the security forces. The Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) was deployed in Batticaloa. According to the Secretary of the Ministry of Defence, the following number of these cadres were armed by the army: TELO – 112; PLOTE – 146 and EPDP – 150, and they all operated under direct military command.

It is estimated that, after June 1990, as the conflict resumed between the LTTE and the Government, the total number of disappearances committed by government forces and paramilitary groups associated with them in the northeast was over 3,000. The victims were mainly young men, in some case women and children of all ages, including babies.

Meanwhile, in retaliation for the massacre of Muslims in Eravur, on September 5, Muslim youths assisted by Sri Lankan army in attacking Tamil villagers around Eravur. Many, including women and children, were hacked to death. Later, on September 9, others are rounded up and taken to the Sathurukondan army camp and they all disappeared. More than 180 civilians were reported to have disappeared.

The Elavar Democratic Front (EDF), the political arm of the EROS, announced that it would not attend parliament, in protest against military operations in which civilians suffered. EDF parliamentary leader S Ratnaraja said at a press conference, held on July 12, in Colombo, that he and the General Secretary of the EDF, V Balakumar, continued to have faith in whatever moves President R Premadasa was taking towards peace in the North-East. The 13 EDF MPS resigned their posts on July 25, in protest that the war being conducted by the government, was aimed against Tamils, rather than to preserve national unity.

The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), in a press statement on July 8, stated, “Many civilians and non-combatants have been killed as a result of aerial strafing and shelling. There are alarming reports of disappearances, extra-judicial killings and mob violence from Amparai, Trincomalee, Kalmunai, Pottuvil and Batticaloa towns. Hundreds of homes, shops and places of worship have been destroyed in the North and East and parts of Jaffna have been reduced to rubble …

“We are equally shocked and outraged by reports of killing prisoners of war in callous disregard of the provisions of the Geneva convention. We are disturbed that no food or medicine has been dispatched to Jaffna, since the outbreak of hostilities. We are seriously concerned that reactionary and chauvinistic forces are calling for dismantling of the political arrangements for the resolution of the national question. We are particularly worried about threats in responsible circles for reneging of solemn undertakings, by the government of Sri Lanka. Inflammatory speeches, news reports and articles are causing deep disquiet and insecurity amongst minorities and are harmful to ethnic harmony.”

For a long time, the terrible plight of the people went unrepresented. The first substantial speech on what was happening was made by K R Kuganeswaran, EPRLF (Wanni District) on July 19, during a debate on the extension of the emergency. The speech did not appear in the English press. Excerpts are reproduced from the Tamil daily, The Virakesari, of July 20.

“The President, ministers and members of the ruling UNP, have stated that the current war is against the Tigers and is not against the Tamil people. It is however my duty to say what is really happening in the North-East. I will give a few examples to show how the armed forces are conducting themselves. “On July 17, in Batticaloa, which is under the control of the army, and 27 young persons were burnt with tires on Lake Road. Many persons were shot to death, when Kottai Kallaru was rounded up. On June 21, 14 men were burnt in one house in Karaitivu. Furthermore, over 600 persons were killed and burnt in several places inclusive of, Babuji shop in Kalmunai, Walthapiddy, Nintavur Hindu temple and Nintavur beach.

“He put the total number of civilians killed in the North-East at above 2,500. He gave details of refugee camps and put the number of refugees at above 6 lakhs. The shops and houses burnt and destroyed, he said, would run into hundreds. He added that despite representations made to the President, no impact has been made on the killing rate. He listed some of the worst affected places as Mutur, Kalmunai, Kattaipatichchan, Karaitivu, Pottuvil and Akkarapattu. He went on:

“These are not exaggerations given for the sake of putting blame on the government. These are rather based on information we have heard and received. The government must think again, whether this in truth, a war against the Tigers, or one against Tamil people in general. We cannot remain idle while people are attacked in the guise of fighting the Tigers. What we have to tell the President and this House, again and again is that, your actions will make the people turn in support of the Tigers, rather than towards the government. You are only strengthening the Tigers in the name of destroying them. To purchase foreign arms to destroy the very Tigers whom the government had strengthened, a further supplementary defense expenditure of Rs.500 crores [US$125 million] has been sought. But those who are killed and affected by this spending are helpless Tamil civilians! This war appears to us as one that will last a number of years.”

He further urged that the government and the opposition work together to further the cause of peace and democracy in the country, to end the war and to find a permanent and just political solution to the Tamil national question.

When the war began on June 11, the Tamil MPs were in a state of disarray. Those who had strong reasons for disliking the Tigers, blamed them for the war. On October 11, General Ranatunge, the Secretary of the Ministry of Defense, stated that three months after the hostilities between the LTTE and the government had began, due to the LTTE’s campaign, 667 policemen had been killed, 352 were missing and 1,283 injured. He added that 352 soldiers had been killed and 1,154 injured. Also, four navy men and six air force cadres had died, while 32 and 24 injured, respectively. Of the LTTE militants, the General said that, 1,459 were killed and 382 injured. According to intelligence sources, it was revealed that nearly 300 LTTE cadres were killed.

The government repeatedly stated that the action of the security forces was intended to destroy the LTTE alone and it was not an assault against the Tamil people. But, when broad powers were granted to the security forces under the emergency regulations, which included power to dispose of dead bodies without post-mortem or inquest, facilitated extrajudicial executions, they contributed to a sense of impunity within the security forces. It was the unfortunate rhetoric of the responsible ministers that contributed to the killings of the Tamil population by the security forces.

Ranjan Wijeratne, the Minister State for Defense, on August 7 declared from the floor of the parliament, “The Government will show no mercy to these Tamil terrorists criminals who do not deserve to live. Reports in the Colombo press of incidents in the North-East are predominantly derived from statements issued by the government or the military. They refer to deaths in the combat of ‘terrorists’ and soldiers, but not to the deaths of the civilians, whether in crossfire, shelling or as a result of the deliberate illegal actions of the security forces. The Colombo press also publishes extensive reports of atrocities against civilians in the East committed by the LTTE, again often quoting government sources. Some Colombo newspaper editors have told Amnesty International they felt pressured not to report fully on human rights issues after receiving anonymous threats. A Tamil language newspaper published in Colombo occasionally publishes reports indicating that extrajudicial executions have been committed by government forces. Newspapers published in Jaffna are closely controlled by the LTTE. The LTTE have silenced dissent within the areas they control by killing, threatening or driving out those who have spoken or written against them.”

“Journalist from the international press, including television crews, who have visited the north and east reported on human rights violations committed in the area, but their visits have only been sporadic.” –Amnesty International Report: Sri Lanka – The Northeast: Human Rights Violations in a Context of Armed Conflicts dated September 1991.

The Tigers not only suppressed and controlled newspapers in the Jaffna peninsula, but they also disciplined journalists who published newspapers in Europe and in North America, as well as those convenient stores – the Tamil shopkeepers who sold products from Sri Lanka, including newspapers, magazines and books. Tiger representatives in European countries, as well as in Canada, threatened Tamil shopkeepers from selling any anti-LTTE newspapers.

Similarly, the Toronto-based Tamil weekly Muncharie, started in June 1993, edited by the Sri Lankan journalist D B S Jeyaraj, was forced to close down in April 1996, after threats and violence. Jeyaraj blames the pro-LTTE World Tamil Movement (WTM) in Canada. His Tamil Weekly became a successful magazine. Jeyarajah worked over the years as a journalist and was helped by Neelan Tiruchelvam, the TULF member of parliament, for the Neiman Fellowship from Harvard University and for regular reporting and writing opportunities in the prestigious Indian daily the Hindu. WTM coordinator Manickavasagam Suresh denies any involvement in banning the sale of Muncharie in Canada. Suresh is currently in detention, charged under Canadian immigration laws as being a member of the LTTE, a group alleged to be engaged in terrorism. The statement regarding the events leading to the closure of Munchari, by DBS Jeyaraj, is given at the end of this chapter, as an annex.

In the meantime, there was an earth-shattering development in India. The Indian Prime Minister visited Madras, Tamil Nadu on September 16, 1990. The Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK), the Tamil Nadu ruling party, organized a massive reception. In the procession there were many floats, depicting the warmth of the DMK-led government and also exhibiting the popularity Muthuvel Karunanidhi commanded in the state. The LTTE float, depicting two gunmen carrying automatic weapons mounted on a vehicle was the highlight of the procession. The incident depicted that the V P Singh government gave a free hand to Karunanidhi and the LTTE in Tamil Nadu.

Unfortunately, V P Singh’s National Front Government was compelled to resign on the night of November 7, 1990. It happened when on September 25, L K Advani, the Bharatya Janata Party (BJP) President, started his Ratha Yathra (chariot pilgrimage) from Somanath temple to Ayudhya. On October 23, Advani was arrested in Somastipur, which triggered the BJP withdrawal of its support to the National Front Government.

Following the BJP’s withdrawal of its support, the Janata Dal Party led by V P Singh split on November 5 and a breakaway group of 60 Janata Dal Party members of Parliament elected Chandrasekhar as their leader. Subsequently, Rajiv Gandhi moved a vote of no-confidence in the Lok Sabah and the V P Singh government, after a 11 month stint in the office, came tumbling down.

Indian President Venkataraman called Rajiv Gandhi, the leader of the opposition, on November 8 to form an alternate Government. Rajiv Gandhi did not come forward to head a minority government, but he managed to postpone the general elections to the Lok Sabah, by supporting the 60 member breakaway Janata Dal group led by Chandrasekhar to form a new government. Indian Congress with its 220 members in the parliament supported Chandrasekhar as the new Prime Minister, which he became on November 10, 1990.

In the new government, Dr Subramanian Swamy, a maverick politician from Tamil Nadu, was sworn in as the Minister of Commerce and Law and was also appointed as a member of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA). The same Subramanian Swamy, considered essentially an academician who taught economics at Harvard University, was earlier with the LTTE. According to Rohan Gunaratna, “Dr Subramanian Swamy, an Indian politician on behalf of the LTTE, met David Matani, the head of the Israel mission in Washington, to solicit support for the LTTE. Swamy was accompanied by Sritharan and Thillaiampalam, two ardent Eelamist from the Boston group. Matani reacted to this publicity about Subramanian Swamy meeting an Israeli in January 1986, saying that he had been tricked into this meeting. Swamy also in the company of Eelamists met Herbert Levin of the US State Department, to canvas support for the LTTE. He too expressed displeasure by writing to Swamy. Levin stated, ‘I want you to know my serious disappointment that this social encounter arranged by you has now been depicted in the press as a meeting with me as a US government official’. In conclusion, Levin stated: Subramanian you have every right to be active in any cause you see fit. At the same time, you have an obligation to your friends to make clear to them when you are approaching them in an attempt to involve them publicly in your cause, as distinct from private and discreet discourse. To do less is dishonorable and unworthy of you.” Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka – page 409.

Developments in Tamil Nadu, by then, had come under severe criticism from various political parties and had prominently figured in the parliament session of August 1990. Soon after Chandrasekhar took over as Prime Minister, there were demands from several quarters that the central government should intervene and bring the deteriorating law and order situation in Tamil Nadu, caused by LTTE activities, under control.

Meanwhile, Swamy suddenly adopted a “holier- than- thou” position and wrote about the LTTE as follows, “The second knotty problem before the government was the growing threat of LTTE militancy in Tamil Nadu, and the large scale vitiating political and economic atmosphere in the state. LTTE personnel led by Sivarasan had killed Prbakaran’s rival Padmanabah and 14 other important leaders of the EPRLF in July 1990, in a crowded area in Chennai and, according to one unconfirmed account, afterwards drove to Chief Minister Karunanidh’s residence for a meeting. After that, they were given send off to Jaffna. The dividing line between the state and the LTTE had thus disappeared. Now the DMK was not in the Union government, the IB began giving the CCPA detailed reports about the LTTE activities in the state. The LTTE had in benamiownership, petrol bunks dotted along the coast, a grenade manufacturing factory in Coimbatore, uniform-stitching tailors syndicate in Erode and two modern communication centers in Tiruchi and Chennai, a fleet of Maruti Gypsies and safe houses all over the state. The north-hating, Brahmin phobia-prone Dravida Kazhagam led by Veeramani acted as LTTE’s local attendants. Through vicious propaganda, aided and abetted by the DMK, the IPKF operation was discredited in a large measure by the LTTE. V.P.Singh upon taking office, asked the IPKF to return in March 1990, and few in Jaffna by then, felt like shedding tear for us. Had the IPKF got the backing and the political clearance to go south in Sri Lanka, the LTTE would have been finished and Sinhala chauvinism curbed. That however was not to be.

“But what was alarming was that having pushed into retreat the world’s third largest army, the LTTE and its local Indian collaborators began entertaining the idea that they could move forward to a pan-Tamil independent state. So, the thought of secession began sprouting in Tamil Nadu again, oiled by narcotics, guns and goodies. After becoming Minister, I visited Tamil Nadu. A very wide cross section of the patriotic intelligentsia in the State, urged me to dismiss the DMK government. The IB was reporting from early 1990, through the usual sources inside Karunanidhi’s household, that he had completely capitulated to the LTTE or, may be, pertrified by the fear of it. On my return, I reported to the PM about what I had heard. The PM listened, but said nothing. Clearly he had not made up his mind either way about the dismissal. The media however was reporting that our government was under blackmail from RG (Rajiv Gandhi) and Jayalalitha, to dismiss the DMK government. RG never demanded any such thing. In fact the day CCPA took the decision, Chandrasekhar asked me to call RG in the midst of the meeting to ask his opinion. All RG said was: ‘You know the state, and you people take whatever decision you deem appropriate. Congress Party will support it.” Jayalalitha was clamoring for it no doubt, but when she came to Delhi in December 1990, she was so disappointed with our response, that she left Chennai for Hyderabad incognito and stayed there till I traced her on phone, after we have decided to dismiss the government in January 1991.” The Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi: Unanswered Questions and Unasked Queries – pages 56-58.

Meanwhile, the LTTE offered a unilateral ceasefire on January 1, 1991. But the Sri Lankan government laid down the precondition that the LTTE should surrender arms. The LTTE rejected this condition and war resumed.

Adele Ann Balasingham in her Women Fighters of Liberation Tigerswrites, “Caught up in bellicose attitude, the Sri Lankan Government made a disastrous mistake in rejecting a peace gesture, proposed by the LTTE, at the beginning of the year (1991). The LTTE proclaimed the unilateral declaration of cease-fire and offered to participate in an unconditional peace negotiations. The LTTE’s peace initiative was misconceived by the Government, as an attempt to seek a ‘breathing space’ to regroup and re-organize. The military hierarchy assumed the LTTE was weak and that it was the right time to strike. The Government rejected the peace offer and proposed unfair and unacceptable terms and conditions, which amounted to nothing less than total surrender. The LTTE leadership was finally convinced that, the Government was bent on a war-path and sought military solution to the ethnic conflict. When the Government slammed the doors for peace, the LTTE had no choice but to mobilize its forces for a crucial defensive war. It was in this context that the major battles of the Eelam War 2 broke out.” – pages 83-84.

The Sri Lankan intelligence assessed that the LTTE had adopted the stance because two consignments of arms and ammunition they had ordered had failed to arrive in time due to the Gulf War. Subsequently, a second ship, MV Golden Bird, arrived with sophisticated weapons, such as seven rocket launchers, Browning machine guns and anti-aircraft weapons fitted with thermal imaging. By now, when hostilities resumed, the Premadasa administration had cut off electricity and telecommunication in the Jaffna peninsula. Subsequently, the Ministry of Defense embargoed the transport of a number of commodities to Jaffna.

On January 30, 1991, the Indian External Affairs Minister V C Shukla was on a three-day official visit to Sri Lanka. He came to Colombo with Muchkund Dubey, the Secretary to the External Affairs Ministry. Shukla assured the Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa, “India would not be party to the process of disintegration in Sri Lanka and that Indian soil would not be used for terrorist activities against Sri Lanka and that Indian forces would not be sent to Sri Lanka.”

When speaking about the ethnic conflict, V C Shukla said, “We believe that the political framework created by your government, on the basis of and following the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement of 1987, provide the broad parameters for a reasonable and enduring settlement.” The Indian External Affairs Minister’s visit was analyzed as directed towards the following three objectives:

  • Re-establish a friendly relationship with the Sri Lankan Government in the face of the Sri Lankan President’s perceived hostility to India.
  • To assuage Tamil public opinion that India was not distancing itself from the Tamil problem and that India was deeply concerned about the tremendous hardships caused to the Tamil people.
  • On the same day, January 30, 1991, Indian Prime Minister Chandrasekhar dismissed the Tamil Nadu State Government led by the DMK Chief Minister Kaliangnar Muthuvel Karunanidhi and imposed presidential rule in the state, despite reports by the State Governor that the law and order situation in the State was good. Subsequently, the Tamil Nadu Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala was summoned to New Delhi and was shown a number of intelligence reports that suggested that Tamil Nadu was on the verge of anarchy. Further, it was told that Chandrasekhar took his decision to dismiss the government of Karunanidhi, based on reports filed by M K Narayanan, the Director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and that of G S Vajpai, the head of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), which indicated that the DMK was in connivance with the unlawful activities of the LTTE in Tamil Nadu.

    It was one of the boldest acts of a minority government to courageously come forward to dismiss a legally elected state government. But several political analysts commented as this was, one of the most heinous acts of Chandrasekhar, a veteran politician, to have dismissed a lawfully elected government.

    V P Singh, in a scathing attack, said, “The Prime Minister Chandrasekhar dismissed the Tamil Nadu Government, due to blackmail indulged by Congress and the AIDMK, which they allegedly threatened to withdraw their support to the minority government if it did not dismiss the state government.” Excerpts of the Jain Commission Report regarding political criticism and the DMK-LTTE nexus: Events leading up to the dismissal of DMK government in Tamil Nadu.

    “While, spurred into action due to the threat of an impending dismissal of their Government, the State Government had been in the process of making some efforts to bring about a semblance of control over the LTTE functionaries, who were operating freely hitherto, the criticism from various quarters regarding DMK-LTTE nexus continued to mount. What was the material available with regard to DMK-LTTE nexus, which led to such harsh criticism of the State Government, culminating in dismissal of the popularly elected DMK Government in Tamil Nadu and imposition of presidential rule on January 30, 1990.

    “The sequence of events of the DMK period, as it emerges from the evidence available before the commission in the form of IB and other Central Intelligence reports, state police records and depositions of various witnesses, paints the following picture:
    “The DMK had been, after it came to power in Tamil Nadu, instrumental in providing a safe sanctuary to the LTTE and also in giving advice, active assistance, finance and providing security cover to its operations in Tamil Nadu, which were intended to facilitate the LTTE in fighting the Sri Lankan armed forces. It was noticed that even acts of defiance to law enforcement authority and other civilian officials, coercion, subversion and intimidation by LTTE have also been ignored or even condoned by the DMK. At the bureaucratic level, it appears that the State Home Secretary had been in regular contact with LTTE, and, reports suggest, was advising them with the intention of facilitating easier movement of LTTE consignments.

    “On several occasions, it was reported that, the Chief Minister himself had advised the LTTE to adopt a low profile, sensing possible action by the Central Government. There are also IB reports which suggest that Shri V Gopalaswamy, who was also a Member of Parliamentary Consultative Committee on External Affairs, indicated to LTTE activists that, while he had discussed with I K Gujral and George Fernandez the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils, there appeared to be a an air of hostility towards the LTTE in the Committee. He, therefore, counseled them to tread cautiously.

    “Reports during the period of July, 1990, also suggested that the key LTTE functionary, Kiruban, had approached Shri V Gopalaswamy and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for providing more landing points to bring in the injured. The Chief Minister reportedly suggested a point from Mallipattinam, preferably in coastal areas of Thondi, as the possible choice for the purpose. Thus, it appears, changes in landing points along the coast were always effected in consultation with the DMK leaders. Intelligence reports of the period also suggest that after the outbreak of clashes between LTTE and Sri Lankan armed forces, in June 1990, the LTTE men increased their activities with the overt and covert support of the authorities in Tamil Nadu.

    “It was reported that Shri M Karunanidhi himself was instrumental in ensuring that things went smoothly for the LTTE. At one stage, when paucity of finance was affecting the LTTE, Shri Karunanidhi is reported to have suggested floating a fake organization called ‘Relief Association for Sri Lankan Tamils’, with Kasi Anandan and Natesan, LTTE activists, as office-bearers, to facilitate diversion of the Government funds in the name of relief. A significant instance of blatant support to the LTTE was the release of Kiruban and four others on bail and the subsequent re-arrest of only three others barring Kiruban and another activist, who continue to remain unaffected.

    “Defiance of law and scant regard or fear for security agencies existed among the LTTE activists, thanks to the patronage of DMK Government. This phenomenon was experienced at its worst, during the Pattinamkatha shootout and was highlighted in an incident on July 25, 1990, when the Police intercepted a Maruti Van carrying five LTTE cadres at Erandampulikadu (Thanjavur District). The activists initially resisted the search of the van. But, later when a search was carried out, two 9mm pistols, 28 rounds of ammunition and 3 magazines, besides a walkie-talkie set were seized. When asked to proceed to the Police Station, the militants resisted and claimed that the movement had been cleared at the highest level (DMK leadership). They even warned the Assistant Commandant, TSP, who effectively organized the arrest, of dire consequences and threatened to consume cyanide capsules. They also suggested that they would kill 50 Police people before consuming poison. They had to be handled with great care and remanded to custody notwithstanding the concerted efforts by some prominent DMK leaders to get them released. The arrest contributed to the wrath of Prabakaran, who sent messages to Shri Karunanidhi, threatening to withdraw all LTTE cadres from Tamil Nadu, if those arrested were not released immediately.

    “In view of their suspected involvement in the EPRLF killings in Madras on June 19, they were brought to Madras for test identification parade and as they chose to defy such an attempt, the security agencies had to turn a blind eye, though for the sake of documentation a parade was recorded. Subsequently, they were let off on bail on August 13, on the condition that they would report to the Investigation Officer everyday and sign the register. It may be mentioned that, in connection with the incident on July 25, 1990, at Erandampulikadu (Thanjavur District) for the LTTE militants, Advocate Shanmugasundaram and Viswanathan (both DMK) volunteered for bailing them out.

    “In another instance, after the raid on the Thillainagar hideout of LTTE on November 30, 1990, it is reported that advocate Madhuranayagam (DMK) and Adaikalam (pro DMK) arranged for bail, when Kiruban and others were implicated in the EPRLF killings and produced before the Magistrate in Madras. The PA to the Handloom and Urban Development Minister Thangavelu stood surety. Consequent on police taking action on two of the accused for their jumping bail, PA had to face the problem and Departmental proceedings had also been initiated against him. The attitude of the LTTE cadres, supported by the DMK leadership, witnessed the flouting of the bail conditions. In fact, V Gopalaswamy, DMK leader even tried to keep them at his residence and he asked the Police Officer to come and obtain the necessary signature. The Police, as a face saving exercise, took to custody only three leaving Kiruban and Dorai, the most active members, to remain at large and at liberty to carry on their task. The crackdown on the Sri Lankan militants in the wake of the changed stance of the Central Government, therefore, predictably, had little actual impact on the ground situation.

    “This perception dominated the criticism of the opposition parties to DMK who, in a concerted manner, set about demanding the dismissal of the DMK led Government. One important development in this regard occurred when Shri P Chidambaram, MP, wrote a detailed letter on 28th December, 1990, to the Prime Minister of India, inter alia, alleging that:

    “… I have just returned from a four-day tour of my constituency, which included a visit to key coastal villages in Ramanathapuram district, Tamil Nadu. These villages are Mullimunai, Karangadu, Soliakkudi, M.R. Pattinam and Pudupattinam. Activity of Tamil militants, presumably LTTE, has been reported from these villages during the last six months … I gathered valuable information from my talks with local political leaders as well as the villagers …

    “Key villages have been virtually isolated, leaving the coast practically free for unhindered landing and use by the militants.

    “The so called surveillance by the State police is hopelessly inadequate and, in my view, a mere pretense to satisfy the Central Government.

    “Movement and activity of militants continues in an uninterrupted manner. Militants were sighted in these villages as recently as on 20th December and 22-23 December. The police maintains contact with militants but does not arrest them. On one occasion, the District Collector who was scheduled to visit one of these villages returned on being told that militants were camping in that village.

    “Militants move around in four vehicles, of which at least 2 do not have registration plates. Numerous villagers have sighted these vehicles. They have also noticed loading of cans and barrels on boats berthed in these villages.

    “The credibility of the district administration is very low. In particular, there are serious complaints against the District Collector, who is acting at the behest of the DMK party. There is a general sense of fear and trepidation among the local people. No one is willing to speak freely or openly but information can be gathered through private and confidential discussions. Recently the State Government made an elaborate exercise of arresting ‘militants’. However, it is public knowledge that no real militant, particularly no one belonging to the LTTE, has been arrested. Most activists who have been arrested belong to the other groups like PLOT, TELO, EPRLF, ENDLF etc. Three days ago the State Government “arrested” over 500 young men who were staying in the refuge camps in Mandapam for the last several months. None of them is a militant, but just young refugees. The people are shocked at this blatant exercise in deception.

    “The credibility and the credentials of the DMK government in the matter of dealing with militants, particularly those belonging to the LTTE, is extremely suspect. The Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary and the DGP were hand-in-glove with the DMK in the massive cover up, that was done during the last 2 years. I have already made a public demand that, the least the State Government should do is to replace these 3 officers so that a new team can be entrusted with the task of management of law and order. The Chief Minister has publicly turned down the suggestion. So long as these 3 officers are in charge, I have no doubt in my mind that nothing will be done and no instruction or directive of the Centre will not implemented. On the serious allegations raised by Shri P. Chidambaram in his letter to the Prime Minister, the Intelligence Bureau submitted its own detailed information and comments to the Ministry of Home Affairs on 20th January, 1991. The report confirmed the findings of Shri P. Chidambaram and, inter alia, stated that:-

    “It is a fact that LTTE smuggles gold and electronic items for sale into Tamil Nadu and takes back essential items like fuel, medicines, grains, pulses etc. It is also known that LTTE operates along the coastal belt falling in Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram districts. These LTTE operations conducted through clandestine sailings have also been bringing in injured cadres for medical treatment at various private clinics in Tamil Nadu.”

    “As alleged in the letter, in Ramanathapuram district, coastal points at M R Pattinam, Soliakkudi, Thondi, Mullimunai and Karangadu have witnessed LTTE movements occasionally … Around mid December 1990, the Tamil Nadu security agencies launched an action aimed at segregating members of various Tamil militant groups resident in the various refugee camps in the State. In the course of these operations a total of 1572 Sri Lankan Tamils were picked up and lodged at different places in the State. It is a fact that not many among the arrested are LTTE activists and of the 629 persons picked up for pro-LTTE affiliation, only 8/10 appear to be active cadres, while the remaining are possible sympathizers. A fairly large complement (207) are family members also. Members belonging to other militant groups including family members of EPRLF (583), TELO (208) and ENDLF (128) have also been picked up and lodged at different places.

    “With specific reference to the deteriorating ground situation expressed in the letter from P Chidambaram MP … While in the earlier phases, the village visit by officials was not very regular, in the recent past, State Government officials have been undertaking frequent visits to these villages after complaints of LTTE activities in an around these places … Fishermen who had generally been provided 100 liters have nowadays been getting only 80 liters, mainly due to non availability of diesel. This is partly due to the LTTE’s attempts to corner large quantities of diesel in connivance with the fishermen … Till the end of November 1990, the only check post located at Thondi was ineffective. Police patrolling which has since been intensified along the coast with creation of more check posts has also failed to have the desired effect in arresting LTTE movements … LTTE cadres have come to notice visiting Soliakkudi and M.R. Pattinam in December 1990, to transport goods required for the LTTE in the North-Eastern part of Sri Lanka. Notwithstanding Police presence in the areas, the activities have continued … The LTTE is known to use 3 Maruti Gypsies and one Toyota Van in this area. These vehicles are suspected to carry fake numbers on most occasions … A degree of police negligence due to inadequate fire power in comparison to LTTE and poor morale is present. Specific instances of connivance have not been noticed. Lack of credibility of the top officials is true. Very recently the State Government has replaced the State Chief Secretary and posted an Additional DG Police to look after law and order. However the political will to sternly arrest LTTE activists is still not apparent. The Intelligence Bureau report not only corroborates what Shri P Chidambaram discovered during the tour of his own constituency, but further strengthens it. Shri Chidambaram’s observations have been made on the basis of his own field enquiries and, therefore, command credibility.”

    Furthermore Chandrasekhar, the Prime Minister in his disposition to the Jan Commission, narrated the circumstances leading to the dismissal of DMK led Government, in Tamil Nadu, as follows: 68.7 Shri Chandra Shekhar, former Prime Minister of India, deposed on 26.4.1994 on the LTTE activities. According to him:

    “Yes, that is true that LTTE activities were going on in DMK Government during the DMK Government headed by Shri M Karunanidhi. I must have written a letter to Home Minister Shri Mufti Mohammad Sayeed regarding the LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu. When I became the Prime Minister, lots of reports were received about the LTTE activities including training camps in Tamil Nadu. I did make a statement in the Parliament regarding LTTE links, not only with ULFA but also with all other terrorist groups. I cautioned Mr. Karunanidhi to take steps against LTTE activities thrice but he did not pay heed and his Ministry was dissolved”.

    Shri Chandra Shekhar did make a speech in Parliament on 10.1.1991. He further deposed:- “During DMK regime in Tamil Nadu, murders after murders took place including murder of Padmanabha and no arrests were effected. In those days, National Front Government was at the Center. Murders and smuggling of arms and other activities were going on not only during the regime of Shri V P Singh, but also during the regime of Shri Rajiv Gandhi and during my own regime, because of terrorist activities which we were not able to control. I had seen the reports on militant LTTE activities in Tamil Nadu, from Tamil Nadu Government, when I was in the Government and I also received reports about the same from other intelligence agencies. Speech was not a prelude but a warning, caution and a friendly suggestion to behave properly; otherwise, they were inviting trouble. It is wrong to say that any ground was prepared or any plan was made for the dismissal of the DMK Government. I am the last person to be pressurized as proved by subsequent events.

    “There is emphatic denial by Shri Chandra Shekhar that any ground was prepared or any plan was made for the dismissal of the DMK Government. His categorical statement is sufficient to discredit the contention that the I.B. reports were fabricated and engineered to malign the DMK party and dismiss its Government. Rather, from the statement of Shri Chandra Shekhar, it would appear that he had cautioned Shri Karunanidhi on the LTTE’s anti-national activities not only once but thrice and, according to him Shri Karunanidhi did not pay heed.”

    After the dismissal of the Tamil Nadu government, the disgraced former Chief Minister Karunanidhi was asked whether in his two years as Chief Minister, he ever felt that the Sri Lankan militants were threat to law and order.

    Karunanidhi in his reply said, “There were few incidents, such as the shooting down of the EPRLF leader K.Pathmanbha, which actually happened because of the Center’s fault. We had told Delhi that, in view of the rival LTTE presence here, the EPRLF men could be kept at some distance place – even Andaman – so that both sides remained unharmed. This did not take place and when the EPRLF leader came to Madras without telling us, he was gunned down by the Tigers.”

    In the meantime, by mid November 1990, the Sri Lankan army managed to clear Mannar Island. Civil administration was restored in Mannar town. The main bridge linking the island was repaired to facilitate the movement of the vehicles. In Mannar the army flushed out the LTTE.

    On February 17, 1991, in Mannar, the Sri Lankan army lost 44 soldiers, including two officers, when they were ambushed by a party of 400 LTTE cadres. Subsequently, on March 2, 1991, Sri Lanka’s most powerful and most heavily guarded Minister of State for Defence and the Minister of Plantation Industry, Ranjan Wijeratne, was killed when a massive car bomb blew apart his armor-plated Mercedes Benz, in Colombo.

    The Government and army quickly blamed the LTTE, commenting on an LTTE transmission monitored by Sri Lankan security officials, “An apparently elated LTTE voice was clearly heard over the intercepted broadcast saying the LTTE had more than accomplished its purpose, by leaving the scene of the bomb explosion without any clue. The LTTE office in London denied any involvement in the killing of Ranjan Wijeratne, but said that his ‘death would be greeted with a sense of relief by the Tamil people’.”

    Sathasivam Krishnakumar alias Kittu, who by that time headed the LTTE’s London international office, said, “LTTE acknowledges that he, Mr. Wijeratne, symbolized the Sri Lankan racist oppressive system and was instrumental in the murder of the thousands of innocent Tamils.”

    In the bomb explosion, more than 30 others were killed, including security men, police commandos and innocent passers-by. Over 100 persons were wounded. Two escort jeeps, one back-up vehicle and two buses were also wrecked. The bomb explosion was heard more than 10 km away.

    Investigations revealed that a 100 kg bomb had been placed inside a parked car and was triggered by its driver, one Prem, a member of the Black Tigers, who specialized in suicide attacks.

    A number of Tamil youths were arrested from lodging houses and motels in Colombo. None was tried in the courts, but some later disappeared. It was shown later that, the real reason why no one was tried was that the assassin was a Chinese casino owner, who had been expelled by the minister 10 days earlier. There had been a tussle between this Minister and the Chinese underworld figure for control of the casinos in Colombo.

    After the death of Ranjan Wijeratne, the Prime Minister, D B Wijetunga, was sworn in as Minister of State for Defense. In the shake-up of cabinet, on March 14, 1991, the Prime Minister also took up the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training, along with the Ministry of Finance. A M S Adhikari was given the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, while his earlier Ministry of Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Social Welfare went to P Dayaratne, and his Land Irrigation and Mahaweli Development went to Gamini Atukorale. Alick Aluvihare, who was earlier the Minister of Post and Telecommunication, was shifted to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping, and Rupsena Karunatilake, who held that ministry, was made the Minister of Plantation Industry. Instead of the veteran Vincent Perera, Dr Wimal Wickremasinghe was sworn in as the Minister of Environment and Parliamentary Affairs and Chief Government Whip.

    D B S Jeyaraj, editor of the Toronto-based Tamil magazine Muncharie, says that he had been compelled to suspend the publication because of threats from the LTTE. The real blow was the scaring off of advertisers, he says, adding that the April 1 1996, issue was the last publication. “I published an open letter in English outlining the problem briefly in the Muncharie,” says Mr Jeyaraj, who was at one time attached to The Island and The Sunday Times, newspapers in Sri Lanka. The following are excerpts from his open letter: “Do not go gentle into that good night … rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas 1914-53). Dylan Thomas is one of my favorite poets. The above mentioned lines from his ‘Do not go gentle’ are quite close to my heart. These lines have been to some extent an exalting inspiration to me whenever faced with great difficulties or problems. There are many instances in the past where I have raged and fought against the dying of that light.

    “Recalling these lines in the present context is a painful experience. For your favorite Tamil weekly “Muncharie” is about to go into that good night. Despite raging against the falling of the light the Muncharie will cease publication with effect from today. It is with a sense of deep regret that I am forced to make this announcement. Circumstances beyond our control have compelled us to suspend publication. The reason for this painful decision is public knowledge as far as the Canadian Tamil community is concerned.

    “The intention is to make the Canadian mainstream aware of how a small, ethnic newspaper striving to maintain the finer traditions of journalism has been ruthlessly suppressed by a neo-fascist intolerant organization claiming to fight for the Tamil cause. Our fundamental, inalienable right to the freedom of expression has been brutally violated in Canada, a land of hope and freedom. The Muncharie has been penalized by the Canadian World Tamil Movement (a branch / front organization of the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam) for the “offence” of adhering faithfully to the dictum “comment is free, but facts are sacred,” as pronounced by the legendary Charles Prestwich Scott in the “Manchester Guardian”. Let me then briefly record the sequence of events pertaining to this sorry state of affairs.

    “I became the editor of “Senthamarai” a Tamil weekly in October 1990. In June 1993 the “Muncharie” was started. It began as a fortnightly and soon became a full-fledged weekly, in January 1994. My wife and I are the joint owners of the Muncharie. My entry into Canadian Tamil journalism came at a time when two diametrically opposed publications were ruling the Tamil roost in Canada. One was the pro-LTTE Ulaga Thamilar. The other was the anti-LTTE Thayagam. Under my editorial direction, both the Senthamarai and the Muncharie followed a middle way. I did not attempt to take sides, but merely reported the facts. We performed a dual role. On the one hand, we disseminated news concerning events in Sri Lanka, while on the other, we published news about events in Canada, so as to help the process of integration. Our non-partisan editorial policy was greeted suspiciously by both the pro-LTTE and anti-LTTE camps. In a journalistic climate where ‘newspapers’ were narrowly viewed as either pro or anti our editorial stance became naturally suspect. But it is to the eternal credit of our readers that, they were quick to appreciate our position.

    “The Muncharie’s reputation as a source of credible and authentic news was sky-high. Among our many scoops was the noteworthy episode about the arrest of the LTTE deputy-leader Mahendrarajah alias Mahathaya, on charges of treason by the Tiger Chief Prabhakaran. The exhaustive account appearing in the Muncharie was reproduced and reprinted by Indian and Sri Lankan newspapers. A prominent Sinhala editor quipped thus ‘You are writing in Canada about what is happening in Jaffna. The Indian newspapers are reproducing them and we are reprinting them’. The LTTE itself was forced to break its silence and issue a statement admitting the truth about Mahathaya, after the Muncharie’s disclosure.

    “Our journalistic progress in Canada was not without its problems. The Tigers and their supporters were not happy about our position. Whenever news items unfavorable to the LTTE appeared in the Muncharie, there were many personal messages either threatening or entreating. These calls would request me not to publish anything that was perceived as harmful to Tiger interests or would reprimand me for publishing damaging news. My reply was that although I empathize with the Tamil predicament in my personal capacity, I would not suppress or distort the news in my professional capacity as a journalist. I received many threats and abusive telephone calls from anonymous persons. I dismissed these lightly as ‘occupational hazards’. But, in 1993, I was assaulted by a gang of four Tamil youths outside the Ontario Science Center. They accused me of writing against the LTTE. Using rods and baseball bats they broke my leg. I was hospitalized. I also received head injuries. Nevertheless, I continued with my journalism, which was more a vocation rather than a profession to me.

    “My relations with the LTTE began to deteriorate after a heated argument over the telephone with Lawrence Thilagar, the International spokesman of the LTTE based in Paris. Taking umbrage at some news items in the Muncharie, he accused me of working against the LTTE and labeled me a ‘traitor’. I told him that if there was a choice between the general interests of the Tamil community at large and the particular interests of the LTTE as a movement, then I would be on the side of the community and not the Tigers. I also told him to be careful about calling others ‘traitors’ and that Thilagar himself may be labeled as a traitor like Mahathaya one day.

    “Three other members of the WTM have at different times called me directly identified themselves at WTM office-bearers and tried to intimidate me into publishing material favorable to the Tigers. They are Uma Maheswaran, George and Mathagal Kannan. After rejecting these pressures, I rang the WTM coordinator Suresh and complained about these attempts.

    “The advent of Chandrika Kumaratunga on the Sri Lankan political horizon brought about a positive change. Many Tamils including myself felt that a negotiated settlement to the ethnic question was on the cards. Earlier, we felt that war had been thrust upon the Tamils. The Muncharie welcomed Chandrika’s victory. Also in my weekly political column, I urged that the LTTE should grasp the hand of friendship extended by her firmly and resolve the problem through dialogue and discussion. These sentiments were endorsed by a vast majority of our readers. Pro-Tiger elements however did not like these views. This in turn made me realize belatedly perhaps that one had to distinguish the existence of a distinct difference between Tiger and Tamil interests.

    “In April 1995, Mr Mariathasan, the LTTE representative in Montreal, turned up at my home unexpectedly with a mutual friend. He said he had returned from Sri Lanka after a prolonged stay. He claimed that he had met with the LTTE leader Prabhakaran and had a lengthy discussion about the Canadian situation. Mr Mariathasan said that Mr Prabhakaran had told him that he (Prabhakaran) had great regard for me as a journalist, but was unhappy about some of my writings. ‘Don’t lose the regard the leader has for you’, said Mr Mariathasan.

    “Shortly after this meeting, the LTTE broke the ceasefire and began fighting. The manner in which the ceasefire was broken and the reasons given for it left much to be desired, while admonishing Chandrika for her inefficient handling of matters, I also criticized the LTTE leadership for its hasty decision. I said that Prabhakaran will have to act with greater responsibility if he wanted to live up to the title ‘National Leader’ foisted upon him by LTTE supporters.

    “What I tried to drive home was that Mr Prabhakaran should have resorted to war only after exhausting all avenues of a peaceful settlement. Notwithstanding her inadequacies I genuinely felt that Chandrika Kumaratunga offered a way out from the military quagmire for Sri Lanka in general and the Tamils in particular. Although events have taken a sad turn for the worse I firmly believe that Chandrika still remains the best bet for the Tamils among the present crop of Sinhala political leaders.

    “My views were first articulated over the Tamil radio. The same commentary was printed in the paper. This particular commentary criticizing Prabhakaran raised a hornets nest. I received several abusive anonymous calls. The broadcaster responsible for the radio program also received the same. He began advising me not to criticize the Tigers. I disagreed and told him that if and when necessary, I would do so. Since I did not want to jeopardize his radio show, I suspended my weekly commentary voluntarily.

    “In the meantime, a friendly WTM volunteer telephoned me in an agitated manner. He said people were pressurizing Suresh, the WTM coordinator, to take action against me for the radio talk. The friendly volunteer’s advice was that, I should delete the offending portion when I reprinted the commentary and avoid problems. Looking back, I think that was the turning point. I sat with a red pen (not the proverbial blue) in front of my copy. Suddenly, something snapped. These were genuine comments that, I believed in whole-heartedly. Why should I delete them now? I asked myself. To say one thing on the air and delete them in print was not the right thing to do. I decided to publish the radio commentary, undeleted.

    “I also had a premonition. I felt that the war was going to affect the Tigers drastically and by extension the Tamils. Although there was a lot of euphoria about initial Tiger successes in the Trincomalee harbor and against the AVRO planes, I felt that it was only a matter of time before the Chandrika Government got its act together. While basically opposed to the concept of war, I had always felt that the Tamils were on moral high ground in this conflict. The Tamils had been constantly betrayed by Sinhala leaders in the past. The hand of friendship extended by Tamils had been spurned by successive Sinhala regimes and war was thrust upon the Tamils. But today the roles had been reversed. Sinhala overtures for peace in the form of Chandrika had been rejected. Unlike the Banda-Chelva, Dudley-Chelva pacts, the Chandrika-Prabha agreement had been flagrantly violated by the Tamil side. The Trincomalee harbor attack was a blatant betrayal. I felt that the Chandrika government unlike its predecessors was justified in pursuing war. The Sri Lankan soldier would be fighting a just war, as opposed to his Tiger counterpart. I was sad and depressed.

    “As weeks passed, the Sri Lankan forces began gaining the upper hand. The Tigers began suffering reversals. Even as we reported these events, our volume of anonymous calls began to increase. They ranged from death-threats, threats that my other leg would be broken, etc., to threats of an explicit sexual nature. Some were amusing too. One such call was ‘If five soldiers are killed write 50 were killed. If five Tigers are killed write 0.05 Tigers were killed’. All these calls were from mobile or public telephones. They were impossible to trace. The highest was in November when we received 37 abusive calls on a single day.

    “Despite the anonymous telephone calls and leaflets, we continued to publish the Muncharie under the same editorial guidelines. When Operation Thunder Strike and Sun Rays were conducted, the Tigers began suffering more reversals. The Muncharie like the postman who brought bad news was targeted. The expectation was that we should like the Eelanadu distort the news in favor of the Tigers. The Eelanadu for instance said that the 180 killed in Weli-Oya were not Tigers but innocent Tamil youths killed by the army in Batticaloa and dumped in Weli-Oya. Two days after the preposterous claim made by Eelanadu, the LTTE press release admitted that the persons killed were indeed LTTE cadres. After the violent campaign, many shops refused to sell the Muncharie through fear. I contacted Suresh Manickavasagam, the WTM coordinator by telephone. He is currently a detenue at the Don jail. When I told him of the problem, he said the WTM had nothing to do with this. He asked me to contact Perin Inpanayagam, the president of the WTM. He also said the WTM would issue a statement.

    “Subsequently, the WTM issued a vague statement saying it had nothing to do with the ban on newspapers and no newspaper had been banned by it. On the strength of that vague assurance, I published a notice in the Muncharie that I expected the problem to cease because the WTM had issued a statement. The WTM responded by publishing a notice in their Ulaga Thamilar paper that no such an announcement had been made by them and that the Muncharie was trying to tarnish the WTM. My letter to WTM president Inpanayagam also went unanswered. In the letter I asked WTM leaders, including Mathagal Kannan, to personally visit shops and convince them that they had no part in this.

    “Under these circumstances, we have no choice other than to de-activate our business and suspend publication of the Muncharie. We lay the blame squarely on the WTM for this sad situation. The WTM which claims to fight for the freedom of the Tamils has cruelly suppressed the freedom of expression of a Tamil newspaper. Ironically this has happened not in the Tiger controlled areas of Sri Lanka but in the democratic state of Canada. Earlier, I had written to the WTM challenging them to a public debate in English or Tamil on the Muncharie affair. I challenged them to prove that I was a traitor and stated that I would prove that it was the LTTE which was the traitor to the Tamil cause. I also told them that they could import Ruthrakumar, Vasantharajah, Thilakar or Satyendra if they did not have debaters here. I take this opportunity to reiterate my challenge to the WTM.”

    NEXT: Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination

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