By Mirudhula Thambiah
Families of several persons arrested on suspicion of involvement with the ‘Aava’ group have filed a complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC) in Jaffna. They claim that their sons have been arrested on baseless allegations following recent incidents blamed on the Aava group. Incidents of sword attacks have been reported in the North recently, including attacks on Policemen.
The families of those arrested however, said that the Police had arrested their children alleging that they were members of the Aava group. The Human Rights Commission has said it will look into the complaints.
The sword attack in Kopay, Jaffna, on 30 June brought in changes to the security plan for Jaffna city. Security has been beefed up in the city and the presence of Special Task Force (STF) personnel was prominent in main parts of the city.
On 30 June two Police constables were seriously injured in a sword attack by an unidentified gang in Kopay, Jaffna. The attackers had come on four motorcycles.
The constables were on their way to investigate a complaint in Koppay area when they were attacked by the sword-wielding gang. They were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Jaffna Teaching Hospital. One Policeman was subsequently transferred to the Mannar Hospital and the other to the Police Hospital.
Initial investigations have revealed that the armed group of about 12 persons had fled the scene immediately after the attack. The two Policemen were not armed at the time of the incident. Reinforcements from Kopay were rushed to the scene to assist the injured officers. Police have intensified investigations and launched a man hunt to arrest the suspects.
An ex-LTTE cadre is believed to be the leader of the Aava gang. Six other gang members have also been identified.
On Tuesday 1 August Police arrested a 20-year-old youth from Nallur and a 23-year-old youth from Manipay in connection with the attack. They were produced before the Jaffna Magistrate who ordered them remanded until 10 August pending further inquiries.
On Thursday 3 August Police arrested two 18-year-old suspects in connection with the incident. Police Media Spokesman SP Ruwan Gunasekara said Jaffna Magistrate on Friday 4 August granted Police permission to hold them in custody for 3 days pending further inquiries into their suspected involvement in the attack.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Pujith Jayasundara visited Jaffna on 31 July to assess the ground situation personally. He also visited the two injured Policemen who had been transferred to the Jaffna Teaching Hospital.
Several Special Police Units were later deployed in and around Jaffna following instructions from the IGP. Meanwhile, Military Spokesperson Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne told Ceylon Today that armed forces personnel have not been deployed to beef up security in Jaffna as yet.
But IGP Jayasundara later announced that security in Jaffna will certainly be reinforced with personnel from the armed services and the STF being drafted into special service there.
The IGP told religious leaders and Jaffna citizens at special meetings with them in Jaffna that the Police had taken into custody two wanted suspects who were LTTEers who had not gone through the rehabilitation programme. He added that between 14 to 15 persons had come by motorcycles to carry out the attack. “We are taking one by one according to the law. The public has to support us to make this mission a success,” he said.
He added that terrorism had not been completely eliminated from the country and attempts made by the LTTE organization to stage a comeback should be negated.
“Even if we say we have eliminated terrorism from the country, no one can be sure that the seeds of terrorism had been removed completely. It is true that the weapons used by the terrorists were handed over in large numbers to the government but it doesn’t mean all the weapons had been handed over,” he said.
He also said that the mindsets of some of the former LTTE cadres had not changed because of the rigid training they had received.
“We have to put an end to this now. The Police and the STF have ensured that security is tight in Jaffna, but we need your assistance as well. There should be an effective relationship between the Police, State officials and the people to overcome this problem,” he said.
He added that “some extremists and organizations are attempting to paint a wrong picture of the situation in the North for petty gain, using some media institutions. This is how the LTTE made its entrance initially. We shouldn’t allow this to succeed.”
Media spokesman for Crusaders for Democracy (CFD) Ganeshalingam Chandralingam alias Thulasi, representing the former LTTE members, said that linking militant ex-LTTE cadres with the current crime wave in the North will reflect negatively on the LTTE internationally.
“1,2000 ex-LTTE members have been released by the President after rehabilitation. These activities have mentally affected these ex-militants who are already facing various challenges in the society,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Northern Provincial Council C.V.K. Sivagnanam said that all LTTE members should not be tarred with the same brush simply because a few of them are involved in such criminal activities. He added that the Provincial Council had failed to reform and support ex-LTTE members in the post-war period due to lack of resources.
Opposition Leader of the Council, S. Thavarajah also condemned the blame being attributed to all of the 12,000 LTTE cadres for these incident , adding that the Council should take on the responsibility of solving the issue.