revenge of Karuna
By Amantha Perera
On October 24 the Special Task Force
made a startling discovery in Kathankudi when STF personnel
stopped K. Ganeshan who was travelling on a motorbike. He was
carrying night vision equipment with him. He was arrested and
later handed over to the Kathankudi Police.
It was not the arrest, but what was
discovered in his possession that sent alarm bells ringing.
Ganeshan was later described as a Karuna supporter by sources
in Batticaloa. The discovery of the equipment only added to
the growing apprehension in the east that Karuna and his
supporters have come back with a bang in recent weeks and it
also meant his supporters too are well armed.
The last two weeks have seen the Karuna
faction making a concerted effort to make its presence felt in
Batticaloa. "These guys have become very assertive,"
observed sources in Batticaloa.
Two weeks ago Karuna supporters
succeeded in distributing posters and leaflets in Batticaloa.
The publicity blitz drove home the point that despite the
overwhelming presence of the LTTE in the east, Karuna could
still make his presence felt. Karuna is attempting to use the
ENDLF as a springboard. It was senior ENDLF member P.
Rajarathnam who released the letter from Chennai. The
designated secretary of Karuna's party, N. Ganaraja too has
connections to the ENDLF. Civilians in Batticaloa told The
Sunday Leader that they were nervous and feared for the worst
if the confrontations continue.
The poster campaign ran parallel to
Karuna releasing a statement condemning the murder of former
MP Kingley Rasanayagam and his supporters in India writing to
the Norwegian Prime Minister asking the Norwegians to move out
of the peace process. The letter was ignored by the peace
Such disregard however was not
deterring Karuna supporters in the east. On Sunday night, the
same day the STF recovered the night vision goggles Kandasamy
Wasanthan (18) and Sevathamby Rajadorai were attacked in
Earvur at the latter's home. Army headquarters later said that
Rajadorai was operating under the alias Kunam and was a former
member of the LTTE political wing.
"An 18-year old youngster (Wasanthan)
employed at a video centre in the general area of Eravur has
been gunned down by three suspected LTTE men, believed to be
from a breakaway LTTE group," a release by the Defence
However, army sources in the east had a
different story to relate. They said that the two were
responsible for organising various events on behalf of the
LTTE and had even carried out recruitment and in fact had been
gunned down by the rival faction.
The confusion was nothing new given the
state of affairs in the east. Civilians in Batticaloa confided
that they were not sure whom to trust. Two abductions were
reported by the army from Batticaloa, one in Earvur and
another in Kotamadu. Both were blamed on the LTTE.
Confusion reigned supreme when Swiss
national Hans Ulrich was murdered on Monday, October 25 night.
Ulrich had settled in Batticaloa two years back after marrying
a Tamil widow he had met at a hotel. A grenade was thrown at
him while he was in the bathroom. He died upon admission to
the Batticaloa hospital. From the moment the attack was
reported, security forces, police and ceasefire monitors all
said that it appeared to be a private issue outside the
on-going Karuna-Pirapaharan tussle for control.
However, the day after the murder
reports, including one wire service report originating from
Colombo signaled the Tigers were behind the murder. The reason
being that Ulrich had refused to comply with the LTTE taxes.
"They (Tigers) cannot be that
stupid to kill a foreigner for that," reasoned out
sources in Batticaloa. The LTTE too reacted strongly to the
allegations. "This killing gains more significance in
view of the victim being a Swiss national. This has been
planned in such a way to portray the LTTE in bad light,"
the Tiger release said.
The Tigers have been critical of
reports originating from the south and missive was
anticipated. Two weeks back Political Wing Head S. P.
Tamilselvan reacted to a wire service report that said that
Tigers had agreed to consider government proposals all the way
No sooner had the Tigers done so,
reports appeared in Colombo based newspapers saying that Sea
Tiger Leader Soosai and Trincomalee Head Suwarnam had reneged.
Soosai was to later travel to Kilinochchi and from there to
Singapore for medical treatment. He returned to the Tiger
administrative capital Kilinochchi last week and was greeted
by his wife and children upon arrival.
Reports had earlier said that Soosai
was staying away from Kilinochchi and hardening his stance
from his Sea Tiger Base in Chalai, Mullaitivu.
Tamilselvan who led the delegation
during the European tour did not return with the group last
week. He along with the head of the LTTE Peace Secretariat
Pulidevan and his deputy Selvy Karthikeyan were expected back
during the weekend.
"Irresponsible media reporting has
been a bane in the politics of Sri Lanka, in that partisan
reporting based on information furnished by interested parties
without recourse to investigation, a cardinal ethic in
journalism has contributed its fare share in fuelling this
decades old conflict," a visibly peeved LTTEer said.
The LTTE had also complained to the
SLMM that the army was building new bunkers at Allannkulam,
near Valachchenai. An SLMM team that visited the area however
returned with no evidence to prove the claim.
The army has been closely monitoring
the situation in Allannkulam that lies about 2 km from the
Habarana-Valachchenai main highway. There had been
intelligence to suggest that the LTTE might move into the area
and build a transit camp. Due to the fear, the army has been
deploying more men in the area.
The police and the army also carried
out a cordon and search operation in Puttur, near Valachchenai
on October 24. The operation was carried out after obtaining a
court order and was aimed at locating LTTE safe-houses. The
village had been identified as a nucleus for LTTE cadres
operating in government held areas without the knowledge of
the security forces or the SLMM. Security forces sources said
they had information to indicate that the dreaded LTTE pistol
gang was operating out of the village.
The operation in which around 100
police officers and an equal number of army troops took part
however did not yield any suspects or weapons.
When senior LTTE leaders including
Eastern Political Head Kaushalyan andJudicial Administration
Head, E. Pararajasingham were crossing over from government
held areas to Tiger held areas in Vavuniya, the army wanted to
check the vehicles. The LTTEers refused and the refusal ensued
a one hour delay. Ultimately, the LTTEers were allowed to pass
without any checking.
The Human Right Commission office in
Jaffna has also been informed by civilians that army officers
at check points sometimes unnecessarily delay civilians in an
effort to garner information about Kilinochchi and the LTTE.
This week however, Jaffna and
Kilinochchi is expecting a special visitor, far removed from
the diplomats who keep scurrying back and forth. Sri Lankan
cricket star and UN ambassador Muttiah Muralitharan is
expected to visit the north in a UN sponsored trip.
for budgetary relief
Lankans who are trying to adjust to the high cost of living
are now waiting for the presentation of the UPFA’s maiden
budget, which is now in its finalisation stage, in
anticipation of some relief from economic hardship.
government for its part too has raised the hopes of people,
promising the forthcoming budget would be a sunshine budget,
which would be based on a national poverty alleviation and
growth strategy providing relief for everyone.
with "impressive" salary hikes for the public sector
and relief for the poor through its "pro-poor"
economic policy, the masses are waiting to reap the benefits
of voting for a government which promised to bring down the
cost of living.
the forthcoming budget is expected to provide relief to the
masses at large, it is interesting to note that since assuming
power in April, the government has increased various taxes,
duties, prices of essential items and imposed tariffs.
it on oil
increases however, have been attributed to the escalating
global fuel prices, which it is claimed has resulted in a
drain on the country’s foreign reserves and the depreciation
of the rupee.
a bid to arrest the situation and to increase the country’s
revenue, the government while amending certain tax laws has
also imposed new taxes.
to the Value Added Tax and the Inland Revenue (Regulation for
Amnesty) are expected to increase the country’s revenue
increase in excise taxes pertaining to tobacco and liquor was
imposed several weeks back and little or no time was wasted
when the latest addition to the list, the excise (special
provisions) duty for private cars and vans was introduced on
duty, which was imposed on a sudden decision by the Treasury
was formulated and imposed within a short period of three
the recent meeting between Treasury officials and donors,
Treasury Secretary, Dr. P. B. Jayasundera noted that the
government plans to transfer subsidies from the rich to the
poor and taxes from poor to the rich to make it pro-poor,
exercise a high tax effort to create fiscal space to finance
development and reduce domestic borrowings to channel funds
for the private sector as the needs of small and medium
enterprises are equally important for pro-poor growth.
further pointed out that the challenges faced by the country
include a legacy of high fiscal deficits, which in turn has
made little room for fiscal stimulus in the economy, medium
term deficit correction strategy based on higher taxation
effort, set back to growth and price stability by the drought
and the difficulties in balance of payments due to the oil
government’s response to these as pointed out by Dr.
Jayasundera, was the 30% price adjustment of domestic fuel
prices, a sharp increase in motor vehicle duties, fare
increases in transport and the electricity tariff increase.
for price adjustments, postal, water and railway fare
adjustments are in the pipeline and while the government is on
an intensified revenue drive, restraint would also be
practiced on operational expenditure including defence.
that as it may, the government in the forthcoming budget is
expected to curb budgetary allocations for subsidies in its
maiden budget. The government’s present subsidy scheme has
come under fire from several parties, including the Janatha
Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) stating it is of no proper use as it
benefits the needy as well as the affluent.
Sri Lanka is one rare country which functions on a dual
pay to the government what is in turn used to subsidise goods
provided for them. While the masses pay taxes, the money in
turn is used to pay for the increasing subsidy bills.
JVP has also voiced concern over the country’s tax regime,
which they say is also unfair as it applies to the rich and
the poor alike.
for the fuel subsidy, the government is expected to look at
more strategic measures. However, it is also said that the
public transport sector would not be subject to sudden price
hikes in keeping with the increasing fuel prices, adding that
the government would look at ways to minimise the impact of
future fuel hikes in the sector.
the matter, Dr. Jayasundera told The Sunday Leader
recently that where fuel subsidies are concerned, unlike the
present system, the government through the next budget would
look at providing relief for targeted sectors like the public
for the mechanism behind implementing a scheme to provide
relief for the public transport sector, Dr. Jayasundera
maintained the government would come up with the necessary
measures in due course.