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LTTE carnage at Gomarankadawala:

Its significance

by Bandu de Silva

The brutal massacre of six innocent Sinhalese farmers which included three students who were working in their family paddy fields at Gomarankadawala in the Kaddukulam Pattu in the Trincomalee district last week is a pointer that, as far as the LTTE is concerned, the Eelam War IV is on, on all fronts, except open confrontation with the armed forces using heavy arms, whatever those who do not want to see the reality may say. (As I write the news reached me that a LTTE suicide bomber had subjected the Army Commander himself to a bomb attack! and the security forces have engaged in retaliatory attacks on Sampur area with naval and aerial bombardment).

It is clear to any one who follows LTTE strategy carefully that the CFA which resulted after the unilateral ceasefire declared by the LTTE was a camouflage designed to rebuild its depleted forces on the one hand; and settle internal contradictions within its fold which were unfolding at the time and later manifested itself after the breakaway of the Karuna faction in the East, on the other hand.

The elimination of a few Eastern leaders who went to the Vanni foolishly when summoned by Prabhakaran did not remove these contradictions.

Now that the LTTE has achieved its objective of beefing up its armed forces with more child recruitments and military training given to civilians (that is the political work it did under the CFA) and the arsenal of weapons including the building up of an air wing, all indications are that it is ready for the final battle.

Dayan Jayatilake, writing in the Sunday Observer of April 23rd 2006, pointed out, that the timing is meant to coincide with the 30th year of the LTTE coming into existence. These wars have their planned cycles, so it seems, and the one who determines the time and the place is none but the "Supreme Leader".

Gomarankadawala is no ordinary place. Its position 32 miles away from Trincomalee on the road to Anuradhapura is a strategic one. Even more so, it is a historic village which had survived the vagaries of change and environment and signifies Sinhalese presence in the district despite hard times.

The village was buried in the deep jungles of Kaddukulam Pattu when the British colonial Civil servants serving at Trincomalee as Governtment Agents (later Asst.Govt.Agents) first discovered it along with several such others like Morawewa, Ethawetunawewa, Pettawa, Kivulekada, Relapanawa, Medawacchichiya, and others was hundred per cent Sinhalese.

With other such villages it stood in a line on the ancient route from Tiriyaya/Kuchchiveli to Anuradhapura. What impressed these early administrators was the attachment of these villagers, few though they were in each village, not more than four or five families in each, to their village tank which they took care of despite their poor health. It was on this account that they recommended to the colonial government to renovate these small tanks but which received no attention. So, these administrators did what they could do to help these poverty stricken people.

The plan of the British government was not to help them, not even those in the most unhealthy areas even on humanitarian considerations but to settle South Indian or Jaffna immigrants in these areas in the hope of seeing green paddy fields here as the tobacco farms of Jaffna.

These plans failed as the British government ignored the fact that those green tobacco fields were set up by the Jaffna Vellalas on the sweat of South Indian slaves who came along with them in the 18th century and of the enslaved Sinhalese `Goviyas'who were degraded in social rank to form the 'Koviya' caste; and that the Jaffna Tamils were interested only in exploiting the timber and not in development. (The Jaffna chieftains themselves told Governor McCullum in Durbar in Jaffna in 1911 that the Jaffna-man was "no pioneer" and that if he ventured out it was only to make enough money as soon as possible and return to his land)..

The clearance of these jungles was left to the government employing southern youth under the Land Development Department during the Second World War. Once the land was developed it attracted the attention of Northern politicians. This is how the charge of Sinhala colonisaton came to be raised.

As recorded by the British Civil Servants, the Jaffna settlers showed no inclination to clear jungles. As one of them, W.Ievers recorded, they had never seen a forest. Jungle clearance and land "asweddumasation" was a fotre' of the Sinhalese people, as these officials noted. The Jaffna man only settled where others labouered.

Despite all claims of Sinhalese colonization these once hundred per cent Sinhalese villages in the Trincomalee district are mixed villages now as a result of settlement of Tamils by Tamil administrators and taking possession of lands in Purana villages by Tamil officials in government offices (this happened at Gomarankadawala) and by boutique keepers when these villagers could not redeem the mortgages taken during the planting season.

The "Bayyas" as these villagers, descendants of ancient people, were called, were an innocent lot even a few decades back as the British officials found them in the mid 19th century. One British administrator complained that Tamil labourers from Jaffna "fleeced" these unsuspecting people by posing as "tank-menders."

They got the villagers to cut a few branches and place them on the beaches of tanks on which they placed a few sods of earth, which the administrator wrote, got washed away with the first fall of rain! This was repeated year after year, the villagers not learning a lesson.

That shows how innocent these people were subject to fleecing by the Jaffna Tamils and itinerant Muslim traders.

Ethnic Cleansing and Backlash The choice of this village to open another front in the undeclared war aimed at Sinhalese civilians is a clear indication that the LTTE wants to isolate the Trincomalee district for ethnic cleansing as a part of its strategy of achieving `Eelam.'

The presence of these historical Sinhalese villages in the Kaddukulam pattu of the Trincomaleee district from the days of the ancient kingdom through Vanniya administration to modern times has been a great irritant to those who claim a "Tamil -homeland" in this area.

As noted above, these villages have been progressively turned into areas with mixed population through land alienation (Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact relating to land alienation still operates in this area) and acquisition of ancient ancestral lands of the villages by Tamil officials and other money lenders.

The attack on unarmed villagers is intended to create a fear psychosis and force the Sinhalese to leave these villages which stand as testimony to the falsehood of the claim of "Tamil Traditional homelands" and state-aided Sinhalese colonization and erase that valuable evidence of continued Sinhalese occupation of the district.

The attack is also a signal that the Elam War IV has commenced, on a widening font though undeclared so far. The attrition which was first directed against the armed forces and the Police through claymore mines planted around Jaffna, Trincomalee, Mannar, Vavuniya and Ampara has been extended to innocent civilians, first at the Sinhalese at the Trincomalee market and now to the innocent Sinhalese farming community in the North East.

It is also quite clear that through this action the LTTE is trying to cause a backlash in the Sinhalese areas in the country against the Tamil community; and finally, achieve the objective of not only ethnic cleansing of the North East but a permament division of the country on ethnic lines.

Such ethnic cleansing also has its military objective in that the security forces would find it difficult to operate in an environment which entirely comprises of a people who can be subjected to the dictates of the LTTE.

Erosion of the Will As I reminded in my article entitled "Erosion of the Will of the Nation" (Sunday Observer, April 23rd, 2006), this attrition by the LTTE is intended to make the people lose their confidence all round, first in the government's ability to protect them; and secondly, by instilling a psychological fear over remaining in their land of birth and inheritance and forcing them to abandon these places. This is what they did during the early phases of the war.

One need not predict the implications such a situation will finally lead to in the country. It is a situation that any government may find hard put to control despite all its resources. Ethnic emotions are so volatile that they exceed all bounds of reason and decency. In situations where it is bottled up, as at present, the explosion could become extremely violent. In Kautilyan terms, that type of causing the "erosion of the will of the nation" is called "Bheda" or creating dissension and confusion.

It is that very situation that the LTTE would like to see taking place so that their problem is made easier. They themselves could participate in it right here in the South if they themselves would not ignite it to place the blame on others, as it is claimed by some, was what happened in July 1983.

The result would be to find the country divided in two on ethnic lines as it happened in post- British India and in Cypress causing unimaginable humanitarian problems which would be worse than the war itself. The war itself could be avoided thereby.

7 We would be giving it to the LTTE on a platter with the whole world on their side! Responsibility It is the immediate responsibility of the government not to allow things to drift along leading to such a situation but to take control of the situation immediately and meet the LTTE threat using all the power at its disposal.

Verbal expression of courage and determination is not enough. The enemy must be made to understand what that message consists of. Action in Sampur is timely if not too late. Time wasted dilly dallying is time lost. The government needs to be reminded that time is running out and every moment lost is LTTE's gain. When the 1983 July flare up took place President J.R.Jayewardene was sleeping, both literally and metaphorically as one of his very senior Ministers who went to warn him told me.

The President's household had told the former Minister that the President could not be disturbed. He woke up next morning only to find the city and the country burning! No different from Nero's fiddling while Rome was burning! This is the reality.

That was the inevitable price of folly on the part of whosoever it was, and of complacency as much as absence of an efficient intelligence system.! The international community should realize that it is wasting time in the hope that the LTTE could be attracted by a carrot dangled at it.

The LTTE showed interest once when the prospects of big money coming its way was indicated before the Tokyo round; but it is clear that they are now not dependent on it. Perhaps, with the prospects of finding oil in the offshore North-East it is better for them to stick with the Norwegians who will prospect for the oil for them. The North-East does not make economic sense by itself except for this hope of finding oil.

The oil vein in the Palk Strait that the Indians were exploring once but I believe, is being exploited now along with the Cauvery basin, make sense of that belief.

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