Taming tension the right way

The recent spate of arrests of former LTTE leaders and others who were involved with the organization has created quite a bit of ripples in the Northern and Eastern provinces.
There have been rumours and concerns of LTTE regrouping that had been making the rounds during the past few weeks, especially after the detection of suicide jackets and ammunitions in Chavakachcheri and Mannar a few weeks ago.

The arrests that were made recently were said to be in connection with the detection of these items.

The Ministry of Defence and the law enforcement authorities have assured that there was no need for people to be concerned as there were no big threats at the moment.
However, on the other hand, terrorism experts such as Prof. Rohan Gunaratna had urged the Government to be vigilant in order to avoid armed groups from regrouping.

Arthur WamananImage makeover
The seven years after the war has seen a lot of changes in the North. In fact, the face of the Northern Province has had image makeover thanks to the development activities that had taken center stage after the end of the conflict.

The previous government, soon after the war, focused on infrastructure development in the war affected region. At the same time, attention was also given to those who were affected by the war. The people were provided with the necessary assistance to get back on their feet.

The people in these areas were able to get back to normal life due to the complete absence of war and tension.

However, there has always been this fear of the possibility of LTTE regrouping in the North mainly due to its active operation in other parts of the world.

The previous government constantly highlighted the importance of military presence in the North due to this factor, despite several calls to withdraw them. The presence of High Security Zones (HSZ) too was attributed to this factor.

However, experts, including Gunaratna blamed the government for not assessing the security situation before releasing lands that were once demarcated as high security zones back to the owners. Gunaratna claimed that such acts could create an environment for the LTTE and other armed groups to regroup.

Increase in violence
Recent media reports from the North said the region had seen an increase in clashes among groups. The reasons for these clashes and fights should be looked into and addressed at the earliest. Most of these people have been living with violence all their lives and it would take just a fraction of a second for them to get back to that mentality. Therefore, it is important that the youth are not allowed to be idle.

Security intensified
Reports from Jaffna said that security in the region had been slightly beefed up due to recent developments. Tight security situations are not something new for the people in the North, as they had been living under such situations for decades. However, the current situation has to be dealt in a manner which does not trigger any fear among the general public in the area.

While ensuring security is important, it should not be carried out in a manner which would create further problems.

Especially, such situations could be used as opportunities by extremist elements in the North and abroad to create a sense of fear among the people that they were being marginalized and sidelined as before. This in turn could create an environment where the North would feel isolated from the rest of the country.

Understanding the situation
It is therefore necessary that the Government does not create uncertainty among the people in the North and East. The political parties representing both provinces too should ensure that those with vested interest do not make this as an opportunity to create tension and unrest among the people.

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