Tiger formula for total control over Trinco
By Janaka Perera - Asian Tribune
Date : 2006-05-01
Colombo, 01 May (Asiantribune.com): Following Karuna Group Special Commander Pillaiyan’s exposure in the March 23 Asian Tribune of the Norwegian blue print for a Tiger offensive in Trincomalee, further light has been thrown on the Wanni conspiracy to gain total control over the Eastern port town.
A pattern of events in Trinco since the middle of last year reflects the Tiger mentality since the CFA was signed. The Tiger strategy of turning Trincomalee into an ethnic trap for the government seems to have achieved some success at least temporarily. A key figure in this plot – it is now revealed - was the late V. Vigneshwaran, the bank employee who was gunned down on April 7. He had been entrusted with the task of destroying the image of Tamil political stalwarts such as Sambandan who had wielded strong influence in the Eastern Province, since the days of the late TULF Leader A. Amirthalingam.
When Vigneshwaran – an eloquent speaker, Convenor of Pongu Thamil and the man behind the Tiger-sponsored `hartals’ in the town – was nominated to fill the vacancy created by Joseph Pararajasingham’s death, it was something that senior Tamil parliamentarians never expected. Around the same time the Wanni Tigers changed the list of nominees submitted by the TNA for the local government elections and instead nominated their favourites from Sampur. Since the earlier list had been prepared under Sambandan’s direction, he, as a man with self-respect, decided that he had nothing more to do with the elections and went abroad.
By April 6, several Tiger pistol gangs arrived in Trinco town to target selected personalities. Securirty forces’ investigations revealed that Vigneshwaran had established close contacts with these Wanni hit squads. On the morning of the day he was assassinated Vigneshwaran arrived at the Trinco Bank of Ceylon office, in the company of two others. The office is located at Inner Harbour Road, near the Police Superintendent’s Office. Eyewitness accounts say that Vigneshwaran came out of the bank office after a short while with one of the men who accompanied him. It was this man who shot him, according to people who claim that they had seen the incident but a mortally scared to give evidence in a court of law.
The million-rupee question here is that if (as the Tigers allege) the government was behind Vigneshwaran’s death would his assassins be so stupid to select a high security zone to commit the murder and make it obvious that the government was involved?
Although the Tigers wanted to make a major issue of it and declared a day of mourning in Trincomalee, the town was busy as usual and the public seemed indifferent to the declaration. When his body was being taken to Kilinochchi some people in the funeral procession had turned violent and damaged security forces bunkers on either side of the road, but no major clashes occurred.
On the day of his funeral on April 11, the Tigers targeted a navy bus near the 98th milepost on the Trincomalee-Kantalai Road, killing 12 naval personnel with a high-powered claymore bomb. But still the Sinhala residents of the area remained calm. On April 12 the terrorists killed two soldiers at Kumburupidiby blowing up a truck belonging to the Kuchchuweli camp. Still there were no signs of communal disturbances.
Before Vigneshwaran’s death, the Tigers had on and off killed 28 Sinhala civilians. The killing spree began in December 2005 with the aim of instigating communal clashes - sooner than the Wanni gangsters had earlier planned. It followed the serious setback that Prabhakaran and company suffered when Karuna Amman’s cadres launched an unexpected attack on the LTTE safe house at Selvanayagampuram state farm on July 9, 2005, according to two Divaina Journalists Janaka Liyanarachchi and Krishanthan of Trincomalee who probed the background to the murders. Karuna’s attack had deprived the LTTE of their hold on the town where hardly a fraction of the expected crowd attended the last Tiger-sponsored Pongu Thamil celebrations.
Around this time the Eastern Sinhala Organization, which had the Trincomalee fish market as its base, was actively involved in the controversy over the Buddha statue in the vicinity of the market Leading activists in the organization were fish vendors and three-wheeler taxi drivers.
The Wanni Tigers never expected this development and saw their plans going haywire. They were at the time in the process of forming differently named armed units centered around the Trinco suburbs such Pannambar, Thirankadaloor, Pallakottam, Selvanayagampuram, Anbuwelipuram, Palauththulinganagar, Orrs Hill and Sivam Kovil. At least 15 persons were being recruited to each of the units from each village with the hope of unleashing a massive final attack. But the lack of real public support for their goals had compelled the Wanni Tigers to bring forward the last item in their agenda. It was the plot to disrupt ethnic harmony in the town and cripple the activities of the town’s leading Sinhalese before driving away other Sinhala residents from the Trinco Municipal limits.
The LTTE pistol gang’s killing spree commenced with the murder on October 18, 2005 of W.A.P. Anura (28) – a young activist of the Eastern Sinhala Organization and a popular figure among both the Sinhalas and Tamils. The victim was a three driver who operated from Marathadi junction in Trinco. He was killed after two women lured him into the Orrs Hill area on the pretext of hiring his three-wheeler to go to the spot.
By this time the Prabhakaran’s gunmen had issued death warrants to all of the Sinhala Organization activists. The organization’s Advisor and Chief Incumbent of the China Bay Vihara, the Venerable Dehiowita Piyatissa was compelled to leave Sri Lanka in the face of Tiger threats.
Among the next to die was Rupasingha Arachchilage Hemapala alias Baby Mahaththaya (56) a strong UNP supporter and a well-known businessman who was more popular among Tamils than Sinhalese. He ran his commercial establishment at Mattikeli Junction on the Trincomalee-Kandy Road. Having lived in Trincomalee for over 50 years, he was one of the few Sinhalas who remained in the area when most others fled the place, during the communal violence that erupted soon after the arrival of the Indian Peace Keeping Forces in 1987.
Hemapala’s death shocked both Sinhala and Tamil residents alike. Two weeks later on December 3, K.B. Hemasiri alias Lokka Aiyya (49) was shot dead. He grew up in Trinco since he was 13 years of age and owned a fish stall in Trinco. He was killed right at the spot where he was doing business. The next murder at Alleswatte Junction on December 11 was of EPDP member David Michael after the LTTE branded him a Tamil traitor. Four days later another Tamil, Suresh, who was a home guard was gunned down. Many Tamil civilians were very depressed over these two murders.
On December 19 H.M. Chandradasa, a businessman and a father of six, residing at Lenin Mawatha, Abhayapura Trincomalee was killed. He had been in the vegetable business for over a quarter century at Anuradhapura Junction at Trinco. Chandradasa was killed when he was having his meals in Ansar Hotel at Anuradhapura junction. It was a most despicable in the eyes of the majority of Sinhalese since they do not normally kill even an animal when it is eating. Following his death two of the four Sinhala families residing at Anuradhapura junction fled the area. The other two were also warned to leave the place.
The day before Christmas – on Dec. 25, 2005 – LTTE murdered Albert Weerakkody, another prominent Sinhala businessman and popular figure in Trincomalee. He was well liked by Sinhalase, Tamils and Muslims in the area, having lived in the district for nearly 50 years. He too, like Baby Mahattaya did not flee the area in 1987 even after bombs were thrown at his house. Even after he was shot at in 1990 and stoned he continued to reside in Orrs Hill area, which originally had nearly a 100 Sinhala families. But LTTE threats reduced that number to about six.
The next LTTE victim was an Army Sergeant W. Sunil who was gunned down inside his home on December 27. His family was among the handful of Sinhala families that were living in the Tamil village of Sangam. After his death not a single Sinhala family is left in Sangam.
On April 12, the day after Vigneshwaran’s funeral a bicycle bomb went off in the Trincomalee market crowded with Sinhala New Year shoppers. People were blown to bits. One little girl was dead clutching a doll and a new pair of shoes, which had been given to her as New Year presents. More bombs exploded went off in the area on April 13 and 14 on New Year’s Day. But there were no festivities since the people were in no mood to celebrate. One of the bombs targeted the security forces at Alleswatte.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back came on April 14. It was abduction and murder of a Sinhala youth, B.H. Isanka (19) who was running a bakery with his father in the village of Mihindapura. He used to purchase the stuff needed for the bakery from a shop in the neighbouring village of Ambawelipuram. He felt no Sinhala Tamil differences. The bread he baked was sold in the Tamil villages and his fiancée was a Tamil girl. On New Year’s Day, his body was found blindfolded and shot in the head before being before being dumped in the Thorankaabu lagoon.
Enraged mobs ands criminal elements in Mihindupura went on the rampage, unleashing bloody violence of a sort that was not witnessed even in July 1983. Over 50 Tamil houses were destroyed. One woman was burnt to death inside a house that was set on fire. Many displaced Tamil civilians ended up in refugee camps while the Tigers forced even those not affected by the violence e to go to camps.
Soon afterwards Sinhala families in Mihindupura, Andamkulam, Sinhapura, Sangama and Fifth Mile Post fled the areas and went beyond Habarana, thus paving once again the way to mutual suspicion and hatred between the two communities.
The Wanni gangsters are no doubt jubilant.
- Asian Tribune -