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561 Tigers surrendered in 6 months

The large number of surrenders have been attributed to forcible recruitment in LTTE, reports PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2007 12:56 IST

Since July 25 last year, 561 LTTE cadres had surrendered to the Sri Lankan Armed Forces in the East, the Military Spokesman Brig Prasad Samarasinghe said here on Wednesday.

"The majority of them are children," he added.

The large number of surrenders is attributed to forcible recruitment, which has increased in recent months.

Six children from Thirukkovil in Amparai district, who had surrendered to the forces in Kanjikudichcharu recently, were introduced to the media here.

The boys were from families which were displaced by the tsunami of December 26, 2004.

The tragedy of being forcibly abducted by the LTTE and dragooned into doing hard manual labour with torture as punishment for non-performance, had struck them within two years of displacement by the killer waves of the tsunami.

The youngest of them all, a 13-year-old, said that a group of men came to his house saying that their tractor had got stuck in the mud, and asked if he could help pull it out.

When he went to the fields with them, he was seized, blindfolded, and taken away to the Kanjikudichcharu forest.

There, he and others who had been similarly abducted, were beaten and told to assist in tree cutting and bunker building.

"If our work was not up to the mark, we are tied to a tree and beaten," said an 18-year-old.

Asked if they were given any arms training, they said that they were used only as labourers.

There was nothing good about their life in the LTTE camp, the boys said. "We were taken forcibly. We didn't like that," one explained.

Asked what they would like to do now, they said: "We want to go home". Their parents did not know that they were with the Sri Lankan Army now.

The kids may want to go home to their parents, but the government is not thinking of sending them home.

"We will rehabilitate them according to their talents," said Defence Spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella.

"Their security is of prime importance," he said, thereby hinting that the boys might not be sent back to their villages.

The six kids were having an education when they were abducted.

"The LTTE is not interested in the Tamils' education. Recently, it had abducted 23 kids from a tutorial class in Amparai.

A fear about going to these classes resulted in114 other kids in that area not sitting for their exams this year," Rambukwella said.

First Published: Jan 17, 2007 16:11 IST