Police blamed for inaction as Trinco protest turns unruly

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 October 2002, 20:27 GMT]
A general shut down ('hartal') organised by a group of Sinhalese youths setting up roadblocks and burning tyres disrupted the normal life in Trincomalee and its suburbs this Friday. The Hartal was held in support of a sit-in-protest campaign started by relatives of the six soldiers of the Sri Lanka Army now in the custody of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

Wives, parents and relatives of six soldiers launched the campaign at the Trincomalee clock town junction Thursday demanding the immediate release of six soldiers.

The protest campaign took a new turn Friday when a group of Sinhalese youths blocked main roads to and from Trincomalee bringing the vehicular movement to a complete halt.

Hartal in Trincomalee.
Road block put up by the protestors near clock tower junction in The Trincomalee town.
"We fear that irresponsible acts of some Sinhala groups will affect the peace process now being taken forward with the Norwegian facilitation," said the Movement for Peace in a memorandum handed over to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in Trincomalee Friday evening.

The memorandum further said that Police manning several key junctions in the town were seen assisting unruly mobs that blocked roads and burnt tyres.

The Movement for Peace requested the SLMM in Trincomalee to take immediate steps to bring the worsening situation to the notice of the government and the law enforcement authorities, and to diffuse tension in the town.

The general market run by the Trincomalee Urban Council was forcibly closed by the Sinhala vendors. The State and private bus services were suspended until further notice. When Sinhalese youths started to burn tyres on roads, traders put up their shutters for safety and vacated the buildings leaving the bazaar deserted.

Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Members of Parliament (MPs) R.Sampanthan and K.Thurairetnasingham requested the Police to remove all roadblocks to facilitate the movement of public. The MPs were critical of the Police for not taking action against miscreants. Parliamentarian R.Sampanthan telephoned the Inspector General of Police and Defense Minister Mr.Tilak Marapone to take urgent steps to prevent the situationgetting out of control.

The LTTE detained seven SLA soldiers on September 25 when they entered the LTTE held area clad in military fatigues and carrying arms, at Kumburupiddy, 22 km north of Trincomalee.

The LTTE later released one SLA soldier on humanitarian grounds Wednesday. The LTTE also made clear to the SLMM that the other six soldiers in their custody would be set free only when two of their members arrested by Kantalai Police are released.

The Cease-fire Agreement signed by the Liberation Tigers and the Sri Lanka Government on 22 February, 2002, states "Where forward defence localities have been established, the GOSL's armed forces and the LTTE's fighting formations shall hold their ground positions, maintaining a zone of separation of a minimum of six hundred (600) metres. However, each Party reserves the right of movement within one hundred (100) metres of its own defence localities, keeping an absolute minimum distance of four hundred (400) metres between them. Where existing positions are closer than four hundred (400) metres, no such right of movement applies and the Parties agree to ensure the maximum possible distance between their personnel."

1.7 of the Agreement states "The Parties shall not move munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the otherParty."

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