In view of the recent claymore mine blasts in and around Colombo, the police have asked lodge owners in the Pettah area of the city to be 'cautious' about giving out rooms to Tamils from the war-affected North Eastern part of the country.
Sri Lankan Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella told Hindustan Times in Colombo on Thursday, that in view of the experience gathered in the last 10 years, the police had told the lodge owners of the possibility of Tamil Tiger terrorists using their facilities, and warned that if any of the guests was suspected of involvement in any terrorist activity
they would, under law, be open to the charge of aiding and abetting terrorism.
"They have been asked to be cautious," he said.
Rambukwella denied the charge that the police had asked the lodges not to take Tamils, or to get the current occupants to vacate.
"I suppose the current occupants are still there," he said.
But Mano Ganesan, Member of Parliament and a member of the Civil Monitoring Commission, said that the lodge owners, 60 of them, had been told not to let out rooms to Tamils.
" There is a crisis situation there because current residents have started leaving the lodges, not knowing what will happen tomorrow. It is known as to where they would stay," Ganesan told Hindustan Times
He said that no government authority other than the Pettah police would come on the line for him to lodge a complaint.
Police are now on a cordon and search operation in various parts of the city looking for LTTE operatives. This is because, very recently, there had been a blast in Pettah and Ratnamala (just outside Colombo)killing and injuring many people, including armed forces personnel.
The LTTE is blamed for these blasts.
The Sri Lankan police suspect that Pettah, having a strong Tamil-speaking population, could be harbouring Tamil Tiger terrorists.
The lodges in the busy Pettah market area cater mostly to the Tamils from the North-East and the plantation areas in the Central part of the island. The lodge owners are also Tamils.
Poor and lower middle class Tamil youth and traders take rooms in the cheap lodges of Pettah. Many are youths who come to the capital city looking for jobs, to buy goods or wait to get visas to go abroad as refugees.