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Eastern elections end of the road for LTTE in the East

Eastís embrace of democracy a thorn in the side of Tigers:

The events unfolding in the country in every sphere are giving a hard time for the LTTE. For the first time in the history they are facing the most complex and difficult circumstances in the three decade long history of the conflict compelled to face simultaneously the military thrust, political battle and the international pressure while fighting an inside war within the Wanni territory to keep Tamil civilians under their control.

It is obvious that the LTTE is facing a crisis this time as it has lost their most prestigious men within the past two years. LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham who faced a natural death after prolonged illness and also the death of its political wing leader S.P. Thamilselvan in an air raid has affected it severely.


Troops in action in Welioya battle front

The number of military leaders they have lost is innumerable at the hands of the Security Forces leading to a severe impact on the battle front. They have been severely affected due to the destruction of the fleet of ships they were operating to smuggle arms.

So it has to struggle within the LTTE machinery to reorganise themselves and face emerging challenges without seeing any successes in all their endeavours.

It is obvious that the LTTE no longer can deny their military defeats commencing from the fall of the Eastern province and the subsequent defeats they are now facing in the Wanni battlefront. Even though they were dispelled from the East they had a ray of hope at least in their strategies to take the East under their fold.

But they are now on the verge of losing their last hope with the Governmentís decision to conduct Provincial Council elections in the Eastern province. The successful completion of the elections for nine local bodies in the Batticaloa district gave a strong foundation for the Government to go ahead with its decision.

It is obvious that Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran cannot make his mind and enter the path of democracy though he wishes to do it due to his personality problems. He has even prevented the Tiger-proxy Tamil National Alliance from contesting the PC polls in the East.

The Tamil National Alliance cannot deny the fact that it had taken the decision to boycott the elections due to the pressure from Tiger leader Prabhakaran.

But the very reason for their decision to boycott the elections was obvious. The Tiger leader does not want to see the LTTE defeated twice in the Eastern province once militarily and next politically. They cannot of course tolerate such defeats within a democratic process.

Their sole intention of the LTTE is to tell the international community that Tamil people are not within the democratic process in the Eastern province. But that wish was badly rejected by the Tamil community in the Batticaloa district with their enthusiastic participation at the Local Polls held in Batticaloa.

So Tiger proxies or any other political party representing and endorsing the view of the LTTE no longer maintains the idea that the people in the East would reject the democratic process. Contrary to this, people in the East have embraced the democratic path with their strong desire to distance themselves from the violence from which they suffered for more than two and a half decades.

With this positive trend among the Tamil community the Tiger leader has to launch a major battle to turn the tide against the LTTE and keep the Tamil community under his fold. So he will activate all his machinery both political and terrorist to make the Provincial Council elections for the Eastern province a non-event.

However, the Provincial Council elections in the East are now turning into another historic milestone in the North-East conflict with all major political parties entering the fray forming new alliances with the political parties representing the minority political parties.

With these developments the LTTE would be confronted with another setback with their inability to prevent another humiliating defeat as things are smoothly running to conduct the Provincial Council elections in the East with the successful completion of filing nominations by yesterday.

As the LTTE is facing this political challenge in the East with people strongly backing the democratic process, the people entrapped in the Wanni seem to be turning uneasy with many of them trying their best to flee the Wanni seeking refuge in the cleared areas.

The majority of the people are well aware of the fact that their lives will not be safe at the hands of the LTTE in Wanni. Sources from Wanni indicate that people are organising themselves to protest against the LTTE against the forcible child recruitment with many of the villagers setting up sentries to prevent Tiger cadres entering their villages to forcibly take their children.

Since unarmed Tiger cadres are entering villages in the night to take away their children to train them as armed cadres, a trend is reportedly developing among the public in the Wanni to capture these cadres and assault them publicly.

So the Tiger cadres are scared to enter the villages even in the night fearing that they will be assaulted by the people there.

According to people fleeing the Wanni the civilians have been able to protect many of their young children from the LTTE by hiding them in jungles. Even when they were Ďarrestedí by the LTTE they have been able to escape as the LTTE is running short of manpower to keep these forcibly recruited children under arrest.

Two families from Mullaitivu managed to escape the Tiger grip this week too with 26 people surrendering to the Navy after arriving in Kallarawa and Nilaweli in boats on Tuesday morning.

According to these civilians they had escaped Mullaitivu to protect three of their children from the LTTE who had managed to escape the Tiger arrest following their conscription.

That was the second batch of civilians who had chosen this sea path to escape the LTTE and surrender to the Security Forces. So this trend is expected to develop in the coming weeks too as a huge opposition to the LTTE rule is now developing in the Wanni.

So the Tiger outfit will have to face the bitter reality both locally and internationally as they are fast losing the support of their own community. That was why the LTTE is trying their best to cover up ground reality by making unsuccessful efforts to hoodwink the international community that they are willing to enter peace negotiations.

Above all these factors the LTTE has been totally disturbed by the military thrust on them by the Security Forces in the Wanni. As very explicitly explained in this column last week the ground troops are achieving this progress amidst bad weather conditions prevailing in all three battlefronts in the Wanni.

With the increased military thrust on the Wanni battle front the LTTE is now concentrating more on the two coastal battle fronts one in Mannar and the other in Weli Oya as they are scared of losing their supply routes from the sea.


The LTTE trenches captured in Mannar front Pictures by Rukmal Gamage

The LTTE is focusing on the Mannar front as they deploy more cadres who had passed out from their military training to this front.

According to military sources in Mannar the LTTE has deployed a new batch of Tiger cadres who passed out recently from their training bases in Kilinochchi to the Mannar battle front this week.

However, they have been severely beaten up at the hands of the Security Forces this week with the capture of Kalliadachchan in Mannar sector in the early hours of Wednesday by the troops attached to the 58 Offensive Division.

Ground troops confirmed that more than 40 Tiger cadres have been killed during this battle though initially it was reported that only 12 cadres were killed during the confrontation.

It is obvious that the LTTE focusing more attention towards these two fronts fearing that they will lose their supplies if they lose this Mannar coastal belt and the Mullaitivu coastal belt.

The attempts made by the LTTE to disturb the Navy movements in Mullaitivu seas were a classic example to indicate that they have been severely disturbed by the ground troops operations. Now it has been clear that the LTTE had used suicide cadres to carry out their attack on the Dvora Fast Attack craft.

So the sea area in the Mullaitivu sector will be turned into a highly sensitive area for Navy movements if they do not find any method to detect this new device used by the LTTE launch suicide attacks. Doubts are still there whether the LTTE had used water scooters for this attack.

Undeterred by all these ups and downs the ground troops are now heading towards completing their task in the Wanni battle front. It has been divulged that the LTTE has lost over 4,000 cadres in the Wanni battlefront so far.

But many of the cadres killed in this battlefront have been replaced with their newly recruited cadres and Makkal Padai cadres as their recruitment drive had continued despite constraints they were facing in the Wanni.

Apart from the cadres killed in the Wanni battlefront it has been estimated that nearly 800 cadres have been killed due to air raids in the Wanni sector and another 300 cadres in sea battles.

On the part of the Security Forces nearly 700 Security Forces personnel have been killed in the battles commencing from the Mavil Aru battle and another 4,100 have sustained injuries.

Out of the 4,100 who had sustained injuries 2,050 have returned to the battlefront and out of the other 50 per cent casualties many can be deployed for minor duties out of the operational areas apart from the permanently disabled soldiers.

Since the commencement of the Mavil Aru battle the Army has been successful in its recruitment drive by recruiting 50,000 personnel to the Army increasing its strength to 167,000 as of now.

With the capture of areas in the Wanni the Army will have to recruit more youth to the Army to hold these areas without allowing the LTTE to recapture them.

So the recruitment drive will go on further this year too until it reaches the maximum requirement to hold the ground with the decisive battles are on the offing in Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi posing more and more challenges to the LTTE as they are fast losing support from the same community they claim to represent.


Forces determined not to fire a single shot in Madhu

What will transpire in Madhu in the next few days ? Will this sacred area would turn into a battlefront or will Security Forces be able to free it from the Tiger grip without firing a single shot is the main question having in the minds of all those who concerns about Madhu these days.


Madhu church

As reiterated in this column the troops operating in Madhu have no intention to fight the LTTE at all. If they do not care about these facts they would have easily taken the area a few months back. Even at the last moment at a time they have reached the edge of the No Fire Zone their determination is not to fire a single bullet within the Madhu Church area.

The troops attached to the 57 Division under the command of Major General Jagath Dias is now heading towards the task of securing the Madhu area amidst malicious attempts by the LTTE to tarnish the image of the troops.

The troops have clear evidence to prove that the LTTE was using that Madhu No Fire Zone to direct mortar fire towards the advancing troops. They were in possession of satellite pictures to show how LTTE dragged their artillery guns to the No Fire Zone to direct fire at the troops expecting retaliatory fire towards the Madhu Church.

But ground troops were intelligent enough to avoid such a situation all the time although many troops engaged in operations were injured due to mortar fire directed at them from Madhu. The troops are now in control of entire Periyapandivirichchan and Sinnapandivirichchan villages located in the South of Madhu.

It was under these circumstances the LTTE fired mortars into the Madhu Church premises on Tuesday morning to evening. It was a clear sign that the LTTE no longer can hold this ground and they need to tarnish the image of the Security Forces before they capture the Madhu area.

It was in this backdrop Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph wants this place to be free from battles. He led hundreds of people in Mannar to urge the LTTE and Security Forces to leave Madhu area from the conflict and handed over a letter to the Mannar GA to be handed over to the Government after conducting religious observances at the St. Sebastianís Church which was destroyed by LTTE artillery fire.

It was amusing to note why this Bishop who observed deep silence when the Church in Mannar came under attack is raising such a big noise at a time troops are about to take control of the area with a clear determination of not firing single bullet.

But troops are geared to overcome all these challenges in their determination to capture the area in the coming weeks.

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