Confrontation avoided as SLA lifts Thandikulam travel restrictions
[TamilNet, Saturday, 29 October 2005, 02:55 GMT]
Tension between Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers manning the Thandikulam checkpoint and civilian escalated Friday as SLA soldiers blocked attendees to the Vavuniay Resurgence Convention to travel north into Vanni and youths who were prevented from attending the convention setup blockade across A9 north of SLA checkpoint, passengers affected by the blockade said.
A large group of youths on bicycles carrying large photographs LTTE leader Pirapakaran wanted to proceed to Vavuniya to participate at the Tamil Resurgence event Thursday were refused entry to Vavuniya by the SLA soldiers. The youths spent the night in the demillitarized zone placed their bicycles across the A9 Friday morning blocking the highway in protest, sources said.
Tension mounted as large number of security and police personnel were brought in to control the situation out of control.
In the meantime participants at the Resurgence event in Vavuniya were returning to Vanni and SLA were refusing them entry into Vanni through Thandikulam worsening the situation further.
Crowd of people smashed up a police vehicle when Police responded with tear gas. Two University students were arrested for suspected involvement in attacking the SLA vehicle.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka military commanders, Senior Deputy Inspector of Police, a member of Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), officiers from International Red Cross (ICRC) and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentarians met in Vavuniya to explore ways to diffuse the situation.
Following this discussion the officer of the SLMM and Officers of ICRC along with TNA Parlimentarians met LTTE political leader of Vavuniya District, Mr.K.Gnanam, LTTE political leader of Vavuniya Town, Mr.Dharmendran, and Organizer of the Vavuniya District Students Federation, Mr Subash.
SLA agreed to allow those crossing into Vanni first. However the Security Forces did not allow those proceeding to Vavuniya to carry the LTTE leader's photographs.
Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) hosted those proceeding to Vavuniya for meals at the Suddhanantha Hindu Youth Association.
TNA parliamentarians said they were relieved to have been able to stop the situation deteriorating further and thanked all parties for diffusing a potentially explosive situation.