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Saturday, 11 June 2011

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Recalling ‘the saddest day in Lankan Police history’

June 11, 1990 according to many is the saddest day in the history of Sri Lankan Police. It is the day, the LTTE massacred over 600 unarmed policemen from several police stations in the East, who surrendered allegedly following a request from the very top in the political hierarchy.

In a most cowardly way the LTTE murdered unarmed police personnel, after giving an assurance that they would not be harmed, to the political leaders with whom they were engaged in so-called peace talks at that time.

According to eye-witness accounts Policemen who surrendered heeding the call of their superiors were taken into the jungles blindfolded, hands tied behind their backs and shot at close range with bullets to the back of their heads.

Twenty one years hence the gruesome incident lingers in the minds of not only the kith and kin of the murdered policemen but in many others as well. At a time when all Sri Lankans are enjoying the dividends of peace due to the sacrifices made by such heroes and many others like them, it is the duty of all to ensure that they do not remain forgotten heroes.

In 1990 as peace talks between the LTTE and the then government led by President R. Premadasa began to wane, the LTTE demanded the surrender of police stations in the East on June 11, 1990.

The LTTE surrounded police stations in Batticaloa, Vellaveli, Kalmunai, Valachenai, Kalawnchikudi, Samanthurai, Eravur and Akkaraipattu. By the end of the day most of the police stations surrendered to the LTTE, allegedly heeding calls from the top to do so.

According to some reports on June 11, the LTTE ordered police personnel in the Eastern province to vacate all police stations with their families by 2.30 pm, or face the consequences.

It is reported that more than 800 police personnel were abducted by the LTTE later. Some had escaped but the majority of them had been murdered in cold blood.

Eye-witnesses have said that they were lined up and shot with their hands tied behind their backs.

Subsequently the LTTE is reported to have taken control of a number of police stations, including Batticaloa, Vellaveli, Kalmunai, Valachenai, Kalawnchikudi, Samanthurai, Eravur and Akkaraipattu.

Later the LTTE also stormed stations in the Jaffna district and ordered the policemen to leave, stations at Kankesanthurai, Valvetiturai, Point Pedro, Kilinochchi, Vavuniya and Murunkan.

On June 15, the LTTE had attacked the police stations at Elephant Pass in the Jaffna district and Mud Cove in the Trincomalee district. Also, the LTTE attacked several army camps in the area.

According to reports Police officers laid down their arms after being promised safe conduct and subsequent release.

The policemen had surrendered following alleged orders because the political leadership at the time had thought that they could re-invigorate the talks with the LTTE which was in the wane during the time.

And they thought by doing so they could avoid armed confrontation. That was, the way the LTTE effectively used negotiation as a tactical ploy to achieve certain politico/military advantages.

The LTTE were holding talks with the then government. They were doing so since the IPKF left the shores of Sri Lanka, but returned to armed conflict soon after the departure of the IPKF having massacred over 600 policemen, marking the beginning of another phase of the so-called ealam war.

Recently, retired SSP Tassy Seneviratne had recalled incidents concerning the massacre of more than 600 policemen in the East during his testimony to the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission.

Answering queries the retired police officer had told the LLRC that the police then had even failed to conduct a proper inquiry into the incident fearing the wrath of the political hierarchy at the time, the media reported.

This is not the only atrocity done by the LTTE during their reign of terror spanning 30 long years. The enormity of the death and destruction caused by them is well documented and would never be forgotten.

The LTTE massacred village’s, killed pregnant women and children, sent suicide bombers to public venues. This is why the world is a better place without terrorists.

So let’s not forget that this future of hope is built upon the sacrifices made by many like the 600 plus police officers who laid down their lives in June 11, 1990.

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