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SL on peace track despite NE violence

Despite violence, Lankans are talking about peace rather than war, writes PK Balachandran.

india Updated: Dec 12, 2005 22:18 IST

The very disturbing series of violent incidents in Jaffna and the Eastern districts of Sri Lanka in the past week almost broke the ceasefire between the government and the LTTE.

The country did seem to be on the brink of another debilitating war. But ironically, despite the violence, people are talking about peace rather than war.

Both the Sri Lankan government and the LTTE have renewed their pledge to keep to the ceasefire agreement and begin talks.

Some Tamil political sources said that the incidents had brought the focus back to the peace process and the LTTE, at a time when other matters could have claimed the attention of the country's new president, Mahinda Rajapaksa exclusively.

They speculated that the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran might have done what he did, only to give a jolt to the new regime in Colombo forcing attention on him and the issue he represented.

Since Prabhakaran had given Rajapaksa about an year's time to think about and come out with a "reasonable" political solution for the Tamil problem, the president could well have put this issue on the backburner till he had sorted out other matters nearer home, the Tamil sources said.

The president's concentration might have been on implementing the "Mahinda Chintanaya" his election manifesto designed to win the hearts of voters in the Sinhala-Buddhist heartland of South Sri Lanka, rather than attending to the peace process, implementing the ceasefire agreement "fully" and meeting the "urgent humanitarian needs of the Tamil people" in the North East.

Opportunity for attention-catching violent action came within days of Prabhakaran's Heroes' Day oration on November 27. On December 1, unknown gunmen killed Kunaratnam Krishnakumar (34) and Sinniah Sivakumaran (24), two farmers of Neerveli near Jaffna.

They had been staunch supporters of the LTTE putting up pandals for the Heroes Day celebrations. The LTTE pointed an accusing finger at the Tamil paramilitaries working with Sri Lankan military intelligence, a charge which the Sri Lankan army denied.

December 2 saw a number of attacks on the Sri Lankan armed forces. Grenades were thrown into army positions at Kallaikadu and the Arasadi junction, wounding a soldier.

Some civilians threw a grenade at the Kaithady sentry point and killed a soldier. Two grenade attacks at Chavakachchery wounded two soldiers.

First Published: Dec 12, 2005 18:09 IST