Jaffna SLA trains for crowd control

[TamilNet, Friday, 10 October 2003, 08:37 GMT]
Units of the Sri Lanka army’s 51-4 Brigade in Ariyalai East are training for crowd control on the outskirts of Jaffna town from this week, military sources in the northern town said Friday. “The training was initiated to prepare the army too for tackling any civil unrest here”, said a source. “In Jaffna’s present political climate it would be counter productive to deploy the army even to assist Police for managing restive crowds”, Mr. M. K Sivajilingam MP for Jaffna told TamilNet, reacting to the report.

There were three incidents this month in which neighbourhoods angered by speeding SLA vehicles knocking down persons on the road protested against the SLA.

One, in which a youth was killed last week, turned into a mass protest and then a melee that quickly spread to several suburbs of Jaffna town, as angry residents pelted troops and Police with stones and bottles.

Speaking about the accident that sparked off this mass protest and melee, a senior Police officer was quoted in the Jaffna press as saying that there were no public protests over thirty-eight accidents in the past in which people were knocked by military vehicles.

This was widely seen as an attempt to insinuate that the LTTE subtly instigated and orchestrated the protests.

An LTTE official in Jaffna dismissed the insinuation as “plain nonsense”.

“The truth is that people wouldn’t have got angry if the Police had taken stern action to prevent the army from driving recklessly and knocking down people not once or twice – but thirty eight times”, Mr. Sivajilingam said.

“At the bottom of all this are some hysterically alarmist specialists on the conflict who insist that the LTTE would instigate a mass uprising in Jaffna – a kind of Intifada- against the Sri Lankan armed forces as a prelude to starting the war. That this is daft can be seen if one takes into account the LTTE’s current conventional fighting capability”, a columnist for Eelanaadu, a Jaffna daily, said.

 

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