A few days ago at Kokuvil in Jaffna Police caught two young men coming on a motorcycle carrying swords. When they were questioned about the swords they were carrying, the two men had replied that they were returning after a drama practice.
However, Policemen who are now on high alert to get rid of the ‘AAVA’ group menace on the directive of the Inspector General of Police have nabbed the two men with their swords and took them into custody for further investigation. As the sword wielding ‘AAVA’ group has become a threat to law and order, the pertinent question Northerners ask is, “If a well armed LTTE outfit could be rooted out, why cannot the ‘AAVA’ group be disarmed and wiped out?”
In the early eighties, during the initial stages of the Tamil militant struggle, horrifying scenes of lamp post killings were seen in various parts of the Jaffna Peninsula. Bodies were found tied to lamp posts with gunshot injuries.
The reason for carrying out these extrajudicial executions were written on large sheets of paper and hung around the neck of the victims. Those messages stated that the executions were carried out for robbery, treachery, hooliganism, etc.
As the armed struggle was gathering momentum with several militant outfits popping up in the Peninsula, certain individuals and groups posing as militants engaged in nefarious activities. To uproot anti-social elements, militant outfits conducted ‘kangaroo’ courts and carried out executions taking the law into their hands.
However, it’s agonizing to hear from minister and Cabinet Spokesperson Dr. Rajitha Senaratne at the Cabinet press briefing last Wednesday (2) said that the notorious ‘AAVA’ group in the North was the brainchild of the former regime and its mentors were senior military officials.
Dr. Senaratne went on to say that the ‘AAVA’ group was well-protected and accommodated with cash and weapons.
Uthayan newspaper office in Jaffna remains testimony to the attacks carried out by the paramilitary groups and the so-called intelligence operatives.
The Uthayan office was attacked more than ten times by intelligence operatives and paramilitary groups according to Uthayan publisher and the Tamil National Alliance Parliamentarian E. Saravanapavan.
Despite complaints made to the Police there was hardly any move to apprehend those who were behind those attacks.
The pointblank comments
Soon after the end of the war, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) staged several protests in Jaffna. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who was the then Leader of the Opposition also took part in one of the protests organized by TNA Parliamentarians in support of IDPs in Jaffna.
At several of these protests, waste engine oil was sprayed at the protestors by intelligence operatives and they even openly created obstacles to the protests staged by the IDPs.
The pointblank comments made by Dr. Senaratne on Jaffna’s AAVA group have unmasked the mentors of the group and their ulterior motives have boomeranged on them.
The moderate Tamil political leadership in the North and the East always adopted a stance of non-violence and paid a heavy price for initiating constructive political solutions to the Tamil crisis.
The Tamil armed struggle gathered momentum with the Police shooting incident at the Fourth International Tamil Research Conference in Jaffna along with the abduction and killings of some Jaffna youth in the late seventies followed by the burning of the Jaffna Public Library in 1981.
Several highhanded activities of the State machinery had only led the Northern youth to choose the path of extremism.
Apart from the existence of the notorious ‘AAVA’ group in post-war Jaffna, civil society organizations in Jaffna have also highlighted that with the intention of demoralizing the Jaffna youth, licences have also been extensively given to open liquor outlets in every nook and corner in Jaffna.
The startling revelations made by Minister Rajitha Senaratne on ‘AAVA’ and its beginnings during the previous regime have clearly underlined the motives of the mentors of ‘AAVA’ to keep Jaffna under pressure to fulfil their vested interests.
In his capacity not only as a senior Minister but as one of the architects in the formation of the present government, minister Senaratne’s views expressing determination to eradicate the ‘AAVA’ menace was appreciative.
In the meantime the four-member European Union Delegation, led by Jean Lambert of the Green Party of England and Wales, for Relations with the countries of South Asia visited Sri Lanka, a few days ago and at the end of the visit the delegation urged Sri Lanka to seize the moment for national reconciliation and expressed the need for deeper and faster progress in areas such as normalization of life in the North and the East and the replacement of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with legislation that is in line with Sri Lanka’s International human rights commitments.
The European Union delegation’s views remain as a wake-up call for the Sri Lankan Government to be aware of the comprehensive UNHRC report to be submitted on Sri Lanka in March 2017 on its commitment on reconciliation and accountability.
Therefore, to be on the right track to face Geneva in March 2017, the present regime must identify the new found obstacles which remain a threat to peace and reconciliation in the country.